ICE vs. EV – 5 year ownership cost

The Setup
25 year old male in KANSAS CITY, MO 64145

Similar Class Cars
Tesla Model3 - $45,000 msrp
Toyota Corolla - $22,000 msrp
5.58% for 60 month loan with $0 down for insurance quotes
250/500 full insurance – good record
$4,456/yr = Tesla
$2,400/yr = Corolla

$3.30 per gallon of gas
$0.11 per kilowatt hour
33mpg for the Corolla
0.34kWh per mile for the Telsa
60,000 miles in 5 years
1 standard oil change every 4k miles @ $40

Vehicle value at 60 months
$35,500 = Tesla value - $9,500 in depreciation
$17,380 = Corolla value - $4,620 in depreciation

The Tesla Math
$51,673 total financed cost ($861/mo)
$22,280 for insurance
$2,244 for electricity
$76,197 = Total $ outlay for 5 years
$1,270 = cost per month to drive the Tesla
(nearly 50% of your take home pay if you earn $45k/yr)

If you sold the Tesla in the 61st month
-$35,500 current value
$40,697 = 5 year total cost
$678 per month to drive the Tesla

The Corolla Math
$25,262 total financed cost ($421/mo)
$12,000 for insurance
$6,000 for gasoline
$600 in oil changes
$43,862 = Total $ outlay for 5 years
$731 = cost per month to drive the Corolla

If you sold the Corolla in the 61st month
-$17,380 current value
$26,482 = 5 year total cost
$441 per month to drive the Corolla

$731 – 441 = 290/mo more to drive the Tesla.

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Wrong comparison. Use a Bolt or a Leaf.


You are comparing apples to oranges . A Tesla customer most likely does not even care about a Carolla . A proper comparison would be to a 45000 BMW or similar vehicle.

The average age of Tesla buyers is 43 so using an insurance rate for a 25 year old is silly . Actually this whole comparison is silly.

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apples to oranges?

182 inches long
70" wide
102 cu. ft. interior

Model 3
185 inches long
73" wide
112 cu. ft. interior

As a unit of transportion, these are nearly indentical cars.

It’s a good comparison of the basic EV/ICU arithmetic at present. Gonna vary of course between which two cars are compared, EV gov’t rebates, gas prices, etc; a back of the envelope calculation can’t control for every single parameter. Seems unlikely either Bolt or Leaf would pencil-out with ownership costs over 5 years less than the Corolla.

When I was searching around for my first car purchase, turned out to be my current truck, I was looking also at one of the first models of Honda Civic, thinking the Civic would get better mpg. New Civic was a little more expensive than one-year old truck as well. In the end decided the truck, while more of a gas guzzler, was more robust, built to last. Decided I could purchase a lot of gas for that. Turned out to be a good choice. If I hadn’t purchased truck, unlikely Civic would still be on the road 50 years later, w/Corolla forced off the road by Covid, I’ve have no vehicle to drive at all.

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So I guess you consider a BMW 330i (185" x 72") identical to a Corolla?


Move this to Seattle, WA and recalculate:
$4.92 per gallon of gas
$0.083 per kilowatt hour

And remember the cost of financing and insurance aren’t really relative to the discussion of ownership costs.

Narcissism aside, yes a Corolla and 330i are identical as >>units of transportation<<

??? Nobody (except you) would agree that they are comparable in terms of an economic cost evaluation.

Why don’t you compare the Tesla to a $1000 '97 Corolla?


How can you ignore the sticker price and insurance costs in the cost of ownership?

The Tesla is a much more luxurious and prestigious car. There is a value to be placed on that.

$0.083 per kilowatt hour

It is 12 cents, not 8
gas is $5.46

Simple google search.


It’s a mess, looks like a cross between a VW bug and some other ugly car…fit and finish can be atrocious!

Pulled up next to one and the passenger door was way out of alignment.

Because those things are far too subject to “user error” and poor decision making. 5.58% for a car loan? $0 down? How about $5000 down and 2.5% on a 4 year note? Or better yet how about an unsecured loan so full coverage insurance isn’t needed, saving on premiums. Also I’m far away from 25 years old but I currently insure 4 cars for what your example shows for 1 Corolla.

Remember, hybrids and EVs aren’t about cost of ownership, they are about using less gasoline. Any many people understand that using less gas equates to a higher cost of ownership.

Straw man: an intentionally misrepresented proposition that is set up because it is easier to defeat than an opponent’s real argument.

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Anybody here willing to do the arithmetic for the BMW ICU to the Tesla EV comparison? Personally I don’t see the Model 3 as significantly more luxurious or prestigious than the Corolla, Corolla better appearance and body-panel alignment, but the Model 3 probably has more acceleration, quite a bit faster in the 0-60 time. So the BMW/Tesla comparision would be interesting.

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Thanks, but I don’t need a Google search to read my utility bill or tell me how much I paid for gas yesterday.

The point is that you’re comparing apples to mountain bikes. An EV uses less gasoline than an ICE and that is the entire point. Cost of ownership is intangible and a subjective decision when placed in the correct light.

You can get the same calories from a gas station corn dog or a piece of prime rib. How about a cost analysis on that?


There really are too many unknowns to do any five year comparison. Electricity rate are galloping along at high speed. We have no idea where they will be in five years. Also we have no. Idea what the value of a ev will be. Will the battery need replacement, will they even be available? Will the recycling cost be astronomical or fire insurance rates? Will the current technology be obsolete due to mineral shortages and so on?

But the real question is why we are intent on reducing gasoline usage in favor of largely Chinese controlled product. Answering that may also tip the scale.


Why would you keep either car for only 5 years? Could easily get more than double if not quadruple that long.

Change both to 20 years and each car will be basically scrap to $5,000 range, but still drives fine. Now ask yourself would you rather turn 45k to 5k or 22k to 5k?

Assuming you daily drive the vehicle and have well over 200k miles on it.

But hey, that’s just me. I think your in a whole different world financially than most. If I was loaded with money, and could even fathom the possibility of spending 45k on something that eventually becomes worthless, then yea I don’t blame you, I would get a new car every five years too. But in which case, is the cost of ownership between the two cars (to many variables to consider, but lets just call it a few hundred bucks a month) even worth thinking about to someone that is loaded with cash? I mean even if the difference is $1,0000 a month, that should be absolutely nothing to someone that has that kind of money.

Sorry but it just doesn’t make sense to me why someone that would spend 45k on a car would be worried about the difference of a few hundred bucks a month. I’ll likely never know from personal experience though.

This was a great comparison! But I would like you to either add a more budget EV like a Leaf ot Bolt, or add higher class 6 cylinder car like Lincoln, Volvo, BMW, or Lexus.

I think the $9,500 Tesla depreciation after 5 years 60k is too low. It would be approaching the end of the warranty and something like 1/3 of its battery life would be spent. EVs are still fads and there is currently a car shortage so prices are high. But that should change in 5 years.