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How much does it cost to charge a Tesla? EV vs. gas fuel comparison

If you’re considering purchasing a Tesla, you’re probably wondering how much you’ll pay to charge it. You’re likely familiar with how much it costs to fill up a tank of gas, but charging an electric vehicle (EV) battery is a whole new ballgame! In this article, we’ll explain how much you should expect to pay to charge your Tesla and how this compares to comparable internal combustion engine (ICE) – AKA gas-powered – vehicles. We’ll also walk you through some of the major factors that will impact the cost of charging your Tesla. (Spoiler alert: the best way to lower the cost is to go solar!)

Key takeaways

  1. It costs $15.52 on average to charge a Tesla. Depending on the car model, it costs between $10.95 and $18.14.

  2. In general, the cost of charging a Tesla is more than 3 times cheaper per mile than the cost of fueling a gas-powered car (4.56 cents per mile compared to approximately 13.73 cents per mile for gas vehicles).

  3. While you’ll likely pay more upfront for a Tesla than a comparable gas car, EVs are typically cheaper over their lifetime.

  4. Want to lower your Tesla charging costs? The best way to do so is to go solar! Sign up for a free account on the EnergySage Marketplace to compare quotes from pre-vetted solar installers near you.

What we’ll cover in this article

How much does it cost to charge a Tesla?

On average, it costs $15.52 to charge a Tesla, based on the national average cost of electricity. Across all models, Teslas cost slightly less than 5 cents per mile to charge. Here’s how individual Tesla model charging costs break down:

How much does it cost to charge a Tesla? Tesla car modelCost to fully charge Model 3$10.95 Model S$17.83 Model X$17.99 Model Y$14.39

Across all product lines, the average charging cost of a Tesla is 4.56 cents per mile.

While, as we explain below, the cost of charging an EV depends on several factors, we’ve summarized what you can expect to pay for the various Tesla models. These numbers are based on the average cost of electricity in the U.S., reported by the EIA, which is approximately 15.64 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh).

Keep in mind that the energy required to charge the battery pack (in kWh) is greater than the battery size because some of the energy used to charge the battery is lost during the charging process. We’ll explain this process in greater detail later on, but it’s important to note that these numbers are conservative based on data filed with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Cost to charge a Tesla Model 3

The Model 3 line includes compact sedans and is Tesla’s most affordable line of vehicles. It costs between 3.76 and 4.67 cents per mile to charge a Model 3 product. The Model 3 is Tesla’s cheapest product to charge. Tesla ProductEnergy required to charge batteryCost to charge batteryRange of distanceCharging cost per mile Model 3 RWD70 kWh*$10.95272 miles4.03¢ Model 3 Long Range86 kWh*$13.45358 miles3.76¢ Model 3 Performance94 kWh**$14.70315 miles4.67¢

*Based on model year 2022, the closest model listed by the EPA. **Based on model year 2021, the closest model listed by the EPA.

Cost to charge a Tesla Model S

Offering mid-size luxury sedans, the Model S line includes Tesla’s longest-range vehicles. Cars in the Model S line cost 4.40 or 4.58 cents per mile to charge. Tesla ProductEnergy required to charge batteryCost to charge batteryRange of distanceCharging cost per mile Model S114 kWh**$17.83405 miles4.40¢ Model S Plaid116 kWh**$18.14396 miles4.58¢

**Based on model year 2021, the closest model listed by the EPA.

Cost to charge a Tesla Model X

Tesla’s Model X line includes mid-size SUVs. Model X vehicles are Tesla’s most expensive products to charge per mile at 5.17 or 5.40 cents per mile. Tesla ProductEnergy required to charge batteryCost to charge batteryRange of distance Charging cost per mile Model X115 kWh**$17.99348 miles5.17¢ Model X Plaid115 kWh*$17.99333 miles5.40¢

*Based on model year 2022, the closest model listed by the EPA. **Based on model year 2021, the closest model listed by the EPA.

Cost to charge a Tesla Model Y

The Model Y line offers compact SUVs. While Model Y vehicles can’t travel as far as Model X vehicles, they are cheaper to charge at 4.31 or 4.75 cents per mile. Tesla ProductEnergy required to charge battery Cost to charge batteryRange of distance Charging cost per mile Model Y Long Range91 kWh*$14.23330 miles4.31¢ Model Y Performance92 kWh**$14.39303 miles4.75¢

*Based on model year 2022, the closest model listed by the EPA. **Based on model year 2021, the closest model listed by the EPA.

How much does it cost to charge a Tesla with solar energy?

Hoping to maximize your EV savings? The best way to do so is to power it with solar! On average, the return on investment for a solar system is about seven to eight years – meaning you’ll be paying less for your solar system than you would be for electricity from your utility at this point. Given that a solar system will typically last between 25 and 30 years and a Tesla will generally last between 22 and 37 years (as explained in more detail below), installing solar along with your EV is worth the investment. In fact, once you’ve finished paying off your system, you’ll be generating electricity and charging your vehicle for free!

How much does it cost to fuel a gas-powered vehicle?

Gas prices are variable and largely dependent on your location; Hawaii and California have some of the highest gas prices while Texas has some of the lowest. Additionally, the cost of fueling a gas car vehicle depends on the size of the gas tank and the type of gas required. You’ll also pay more for gas overall if your car is less efficient (meaning it travels a shorter distance per gallon of gas). We’ll explain how much it costs to fuel a compact car, luxury midsize car, midsize SUV, and compact SUV in 2023.

Honda Civic

The 2023 Honda Civic 4-door is a compact car with a 12.4-gallon fuel tank. It runs on regular gasoline ($3.418/gallon as of February 15, 2023, according to AAA), meaning it costs about $42.38 to fill up the tank. The Honda Civic is also fairly efficient, traveling at about 36 miles per gallon (combined city/highway), which provides 446 miles of range. Overall, fuel costs approximately 9.5 cents per mile for the Honda Civic.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class

The 2023 Mercedes-Benz E350 4matic is a luxury midsize car containing a 17.4-gallon fuel tank. This vehicle utilizes premium gas ($4.160/gallon as of February 15, 2023, according to AAA), which costs about $72.38 to fill up the tank. It travels at about 26 miles per gallon (combined city/highway) and can reach about 452 miles on one tank. Overall, for this Mercedes-Benz, fuel costs about 16 cents per mile.

Kia Telluride

The 2023 Kia Telluride AWD is a mid-size SUV and comes with an 18.8-gallon fuel tank. It takes regular gas and costs about $64.26 to fill up the tank. This vehicle can travel about 21 miles per gallon (combined city/highway), allowing it to go about 395 miles on one tank of gas. Overall, fuel costs about 16.27 cents per mile for the Kia Telluride.

Hyundai Tucson

The 2023 Hyundai Tucson AWD has a 14.3-gallon fuel tank. It uses regular gas, meaning it costs about $48.89 to fill up the tank. This car travels at about 26 miles per gallon (combined city/highway), reaching about 372 miles on one tank of gas. Overall, for the Hyundai Tucson, fuel costs about 13.14 cents per mile. Vehicle Make and modelFueling cost per mileCost to fill up tank Honda Civic LX9.50¢$42.38 Mercedes Benz E35016.01¢$72.38 Kia Telluride AWD16.27¢$64.26 Hyundai Tucson13.14¢$48.89

What’s the difference between an EV and an ICE vehicle?

EVs and gas-powered cars will both get you where you need to go, but there are a few key ways they differ. First and foremost is their fuel source. True to their name, EVs are powered by electricity, whereas gas vehicles run on gasoline, which is burned internally. We’ll explain the pros and cons of EVs compared to gas-powered cars and discuss how some popular brands vary in upfront cost.

Pros & cons of electric vehicles

EVs offer many benefits over gas vehicles, but there are some disadvantages you’ll want to be aware of as well. The pros of electric cars include:

  1. EVs are energy efficient: a higher percentage of energy used to fuel an EV is converted to usable energy.

  2. EVs reduce emissions: unlike gas vehicles, EVs don’t directly release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. However, if you’re not powering them with clean energy, the electricity source used to recharge them may contribute to emissions (though still far less than a gas vehicle).

  3. EVs have a lower cost of ownership: because EVs don’t have an internal combustion engine, the maintenance costs are often considerably lower than gas vehicles. Paired with savings compared to filling up a gas tank, it’s cheaper to drive an EV than a comparable gas vehicle.

Some cons of EVs you’ll want to consider are:

  1. EVs generally can’t travel as far: an EV’s battery typically needs to be recharged before a similar gas vehicle would need its gas tank refilled.

  2. EVs take longer to “refuel”: you’re probably used to filling up your car’s gas tank whenever it’s empty – EVs generally require a bit more planning. Even with the fastest EV charger, you should expect charging to take about 15 minutes. However, if you have an EV charger installed at your home, you’ll definitely need to make fewer trips to public chargers!

  3. EVs generally have higher upfront costs: as we explain below, you may need to pay more upfront for an EV than a gas vehicle (but it could be less expensive in the long run). It’s also possible that you’ll need to replace the battery modules within your EV over the car’s lifetime, depending on how frequently you charge it and what temperature it’s stored at.

If you’re looking to learn more about the pros and cons of EVs, be sure to check out our article that breaks them down in more detail. ModelTesla charging cost per mileFueling cost per mile Average Tesla / Average comparable gas-powered vehicle4.56¢13.73¢ Tesla Model 3 / Honda Civic LX4.03¢9.50¢ Tesla Model S / Mercedes Benz E3504.40¢16.01¢ Tesla Model X / Kia Telluride AWD5.17¢16.27¢ Tesla Model Y / Hyundai Tucson4.75¢13.14¢

What is the yearly cost of driving a Tesla?

If you calculate the average of all Tesla models, it costs $614.95 to charge per year. Comparable gas-powered cars cost an average of $1,850.42 to fuel per year. So, Teslas cost approximately $1,235 less to drive each year than gas vehicles. This is calculated by using the average U.S. gas prices from AAA as of February 2023 and electricity prices from EIA data as of November 2022, along with the average distance driven according to the Department of Transportation (DOT) of 13,476 miles each year.

Upfront costs of Teslas vs. gas-powered vehicles

Whether you’re shopping for an EV or a gas vehicle, a car is a big investment! As we discussed above, EVs generally cost more to purchase than similar gas vehicles, though this will vary depending on which EV and gas vehicle you’re considering!

Teslas are very popular EVs and come in four different product lines: the Model 3, Model S, Model X, and Model Y. To provide a cost comparison between Teslas and gas vehicles, we’ve compiled a list of the best gas vehicles in each comparable vehicle category in 2022-23, according to U.S. News. Vehicle category2023 Tesla Upfront Cost (before tax credits)2022-23 ICE vehicle Upfront Cost Compact sedanModel 3: $42,990 - $55,9902023 Honda Civic: $25,050 - $43,295 Mid-size luxury sedanModel S: $94,990 - $114,9902022 Mercedes-Benz E-Class: $54,950 - $113,500 Mid-size SUVModel X: $109,990 - $119,9902023 Kia Telluride: $35,690 - $52,785 Compact SUVModel Y: $54,990 - $58,9902023 Hyundai Tucson: $26,450 - $37,210

Note: cost ranges are provided because each vehicle listed represents a product line with varying costs.

Generally, you should expect to pay considerably more upfront for a Tesla than a similar gas vehicle – take a look at this article to get a breakdown of the upfront cost of each Tesla product.

What about electric vehicle incentives?

If you’re considering purchasing a Tesla, you’ve probably heard of the Qualified Plug-in Electric Drive Motor Vehicle Tax Credit – AKA the Clean Vehicle Credit – which makes newly purchased EVs eligible for a $7,500 tax credit. Previously disqualified due to sales caps, Tesla vehicles are once again eligible for this incentive. However, there are also now income and price requirements that must be met in order to be eligible for the tax credit:

Income requirements

  1. Joint tax return less than $300,000

  2. Head of household tax return less than $225,000

  3. Single taxpayer return less than $150,000

Manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP)

  1. Vans, SUVs, and pickup trucks less than $80,000

  2. Cars less than $55,000

Even if your vehicle doesn’t meet these requirements, you may be eligible for state EV incentives with the purchase of a Tesla. To learn more about the EV incentives offered in each state, check out this article.

EVs vs. ICE vehicles: which is cheaper overall?

Comparing the long-term costs of EVs and gas vehicles is challenging and depends heavily on which vehicle you’re choosing – but what can you expect in general? In June 2021, the Department of Energy (DOE) conducted a study to compare the lifetime costs of EVs and gas vehicles, including typical maintenance costs associated with each type of vehicle. Overall, the DOE found that an EV costs 6.1 cents per mile driven, whereas a gas vehicle costs 10.1 cents per mile driven: that’s an additional cost of 4 cents! While this might not sound like a lot, when you consider the life of your vehicle, it definitely adds up. Let’s say you drive 200,000 miles over the lifetime of your vehicle – that’s $8,000 saved with an EV. If you drive 300,000 miles, this number increases to $12,000, representing significant savings.

How far can a Tesla go on one charge?

The range of your Tesla will depend on which model you own, with the Model 3 traveling the shortest distance at 272 miles and the Model S traveling the longest distance at 405 miles. Compared to a gas vehicle, Teslas generally can’t travel as far, though some products come within 50 miles of comparable gas vehicles.

Distance per charge/full tank, Teslas and comparable cars Vehicle categoryTesla Range DistanceICE Vehicle Range Distance Compact sedanModel 3: 272 milesHonda Civic 4Dr: 446 miles Mid-size luxury sedanModel S: 405 milesMercedes-Benz E350 4matic: 452 miles Mid-size SUVModel X: 348 milesKia Telluride AWD: 395 miles Compact SUVModel Y Long Range: 330 milesHyundai Tucson AWD: 372 miles

What factors impact the cost of charging a Tesla?

While charging a Tesla is almost always cheaper than filling up an ICE vehicle with gas, the price difference will depend on several factors. We’ll explain some of the major things to consider to maximize your savings when weighing your charging options.

1. Your electricity source

Because you use electricity to charge a Tesla, it’s no surprise that the biggest factor that will affect the cost of charging is your electricity source. For example, you may pay for your utility’s standard offering, or you might choose an electricity alternative, such as community solar, a community choice aggregation (CCA), or a green power plan (GPP). Typically, community solar subscribers pay less annually to charge their Teslas. However, your utility’s standard offering might be cheaper than a CCA or GPP. To learn more about how these alternative electricity sources compare, be sure to check out this article.

If you’re really looking to generate savings, the best way to charge your Tesla is with a rooftop solar system: once you pay off your system, you’ll essentially be able to charge it for free!

2. The size of your Tesla’s battery

It’s no surprise that you’ll pay more per charge if your car has a larger battery capacity. However, depending on your Tesla’s range, you may still pay less per mile with a large battery, and you’ll also have to charge your vehicle less frequently.

3. The type of charger you use

When you charge your EV’s battery, not all of the energy you use is stored in the battery: some is lost as heat, some is used to keep the battery at an adequate temperature, and some escapes as “transmission loss” (a process that’s quite technical, so we won’t get into the details). The level of EV charger you use can substantially impact the amount of energy that’s lost as heat – higher voltage charging generally equates to less energy loss.

For example, Level 1 chargers (AKA 120-volt regular outlet chargers) and Level 2 chargers (AKA 208- or 240-volt standard home chargers) have to convert alternating current (AC) electricity from your home into direct current (DC) electricity that can be stored by your EV’s battery. This conversion produces heat, leading to energy loss. On the other hand, using a Level 3 charger (400-volt chargers you’d find at public charging networks) is referred to as DC fast charging because they provide DC electricity, so no conversion losses occur. According to an article from Car and Driver, Level 3 chargers typically see efficiency above 90 percent, whereas Level 1 or Level 2 chargers typically reach about 85 percent, with some dropping to as low as 60 percent in cold weather.

Charging costs also vary if you opt to use one of Tesla’s Superchargers.

The table below shows the charging efficiency of various Tesla models using a 208-volt Level 2 charger. These numbers are based on documents filed with the EPA in which batteries went from zero percent to 100 percent charge – because this represents a more dramatic scenario than would typically occur, these numbers are considered conservative.

Tesla Model charging efficiencies Tesla ModelEnergy required to charge battery (kWh)End charge of battery (kWh)Efficiency (percentage) Model 369.598 kWh*62.047 kWh87.83% Model 3 Long Range86.073 kWh*76.577 kWh87.60% Model 3 Performance94.242 kWh**80.818 kWh83.39% Model S114.054 kWh**98.267 kWh83.93% Model S Plaid116.344 kWh**99.287 kWh82.82% Model X114.97 kWh**99.976 kWh85.00% Model X Plaid114.882 kWh*102.829 kWh***88.28% Model Y Long Range91.115 kWh*80.708 kWh87.11% Model Y Performance92.213 kWh**81.052 kWh86.23%

*Based on model year 2022, the closest model listed by the EPA. **Based on model year 2021, the closest model listed by the EPA. ***Based on the 2021 Performance model, the closest model listed by the EPA.

4. Where you live

Electricity costs vary significantly across the country, so where you live will play a large role in how much you pay to charge your Tesla (unless you’re charging it with solar energy!). Based on November 2022 regional electricity cost data from the EIA, you can expect to pay the following to charge your Tesla depending on where you live:

Regional electricity costs and Tesla charging costs per mile RegionNovember 2022 cost of electricity Tesla Model 3 charging cost per mileTesla Model S charging cost per mile Tesla Model X charging cost per mileTesla Model Y Long Range charging cost per mile New England26.29¢/kWh6.77¢7.40¢8.69¢7.25¢ Middle Atlantic19.54¢/kWh5.03¢5.50¢6.46¢5.34¢ East North Central16.28¢/kWh4.19¢4.58¢5.38¢4.49¢ West North Central12.61¢/kWh3.25¢3.55¢4.17¢3.48¢ South Atlantic13.88¢/kWh3.57¢3.91¢4.59¢3.83¢ East South Central13.79¢/kWh3.55¢3.88¢4.56¢3.80¢ West South Central14.19¢/kWh3.65¢3.99¢4.69¢3.91¢ Mountain12.98¢/kWh3.34¢3.65¢4.29¢3.58¢ Pacific Contiguous19.05¢/kWh4.90¢5.36¢6.30¢5.25¢ Pacific Noncontiguous34.54¢/kWh8.89¢9.72¢11.41¢9.52¢

Overall, you’ll probably pay the most if you live in the Pacific Noncontiguous U.S. and the least if you live in the West South Central region of the U.S.

It’s also important to note that more energy is lost in the charging process if you live in a really hot or cold climate – energy will be used to keep your Tesla’s battery at an adequate temperature, leading to a lower charging efficiency. Thus, temperate climates are best for EV charging.

5. When you charge your Tesla

Depending on where you live, you may also pay more to charge your Tesla at certain times of the day. Certain utilities have rate structures that adjust the rate you pay for electricity over the course of the day or year, based on when electricity is in high demand. These rate structures, called time-varying rates, will vary by utility but generally charge more when the cost of generating electricity and the demand for electricity is high – such as in the middle of the afternoon on a hot day. Typically, you’ll pay less to charge your Tesla after you’ve gone to bed if you live in an area with this type of rate structure.

Frequently asked questions

How much does your monthly electricity bill go up with a Tesla?

According to 2022 data from the Department of Transportation (DOT), the average driver in the U.S. travels about 1,100 miles each month. Across all Tesla products, the average charging cost per mile is 4.56 cents per mile. So, if you stick to home charging, you can expect your electricity bill to increase by about $50 each month

How long does it take to charge a Tesla?

Charging time depends on the type of charger you use; there are 3 levels of EV chargers and the charging speed increases with each. If you’re charging your Tesla at home, you probably have either a Level 1 (120-volt, standard outlet) charger or a Level 2 (208- or 240-volt) charger. You should expect a Level 1 charger to take between 20 to 40 hours to charge your Tesla, and a Level 2 charger to take about 8 to 12 hours. If you’re planning on charging your Tesla on a road trip at a Level 3 charging station, such as a Tesla Supercharger network, it will probably only take about 20 to 30 minutes. To learn more about charging a Tesla, make sure to take a look at our article about the time it takes to charge different Tesla models.

How long do Teslas last?

In a 2019 tweet, Tesla CEO Elon Musk claimed that the Model 3 product line is “designed like a commercial truck for a million-mile life.” However, he estimates that the current batteries in the vehicles should last between 300,000 and 500,000 miles, or about 1,500 cycles – the number of complete charges. Assuming you follow the U.S. average and drive 13,476 miles annually, this means you can expect your Tesla to last between 22 and 37 years.

Do you have to pay to charge a Tesla?

In most cases, charging a Tesla is not free. The one caveat is if you have a Model S or Model X you purchased in 2017 or earlier, you may have free Supercharging, but most Tesla owners do have to pay a Supercharging fee. There were also some free Supercharging credits previously given by Tesla for referrals. If you do have any free Supercharging miles available, they’ll show up in your Tesla account. Destination charging is usually free, though. The one way to charge your Tesla for “free” is to charge it from a home solar panel installation to avoid utility energy costs.

Power your Tesla with renewable energy by going solar with EnergySage!

If you’re looking to lower your Tesla charging costs, the best way to do so is by going solar! On the EnergySage Marketplace, you can compare up to seven quotes from our network of pre-screened installers, allowing you to find a system that fits your needs at the right price so you can go solar with confidence. If you’re planning to charge an EV at your home, be sure to make a note in your account so installers can size your system accordingly – that way, you’ll be able to power your car with renewable energy generated right at your home!

This article was originally published on November 2, 2021, and has been updated.

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