When people think of electric cars, a brand name that automatically comes to mind is Tesla. But out of the many electric (and traditional) automobile manufacturers with models now on the market, are Tesla cars worth the investment with the many pros and cons it offers?
Like any other electric car model, Teslas have fuel efficiency benefits, with battery ranges approaching 500 miles. They also have advanced technology that allows for greater safety and ease of use for drivers. However, depending on features, their prices may be above what many are willing to pay.
If you’re not sure whether investing in a Tesla is worth it, read on. We’ll discuss some of the pros and cons of Tesla car ownership—including how they stack compared to the traditional internal combustion engine, or gas-run vehicles) to help you make an informed decision.
Pros and Cons of Owning an Electric Car
First, it’s worth noting that a few of the advantages and disadvantages of Tesla cars are shared across all electric vehicles, not just this one manufacturer.
Pros of Electric Cars
- By nature, electric vehicles are much less expensive to maintain and fuel than traditional cars; this is often why most people choose to buy an electric automobile in the first place.
- Because they eliminate the need for fuel, electric cars are also good for the environment.
- Some benefits, like tax credits, are available to electric car drivers.
- They are quieter than most gas-run vehicles.
Cons of Electric Cars
- One disadvantage that can be found across all electric car brands is that owners find it difficult to have their vehicles repaired and done so at a reasonable price.
- Also, electric cars don’t have quite the same towing power that traditional vehicles have.
- Electric cars have a shorter range in mileage on a single charge compared to gas-run automobiles.
- They’re generally more expensive than traditional cars.
Pros and Cons of Owning a Tesla
Some may be discouraged by the up-front costs of a Tesla car. However, a closer look into the pros and cons of owning a Tesla reveals that these vehicles hold some distinct advantages over even some of the leading competitors in the electric automobile market.
Save Money on Fuel
As previously mentioned, electric cars offer owners a chance to spend less money on fuel in the long run. The below table compares gasoline versus battery charging costs for internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles versus electric ones.
|Gasoline Costs||Battery Charge Costs|
|$0.072 per mile||$0.04 per mile|
|$1,080 per year (15,000 miles)||$600 per year (15,000 miles)|
The estimates in the table below assume the following:
- The gasoline-powered vehicle averages 30 miles per gallon on fuel
- Electricity costs $0.11 per kWh (kilowatt-hour)
- The electric car the data is based on consumes 34 kWh to travel 100 miles (The standard range Tesla Model 3 can consume as little as 24 kWh per 100 miles).
Note: Savings vary by region, so you will not incur savings that are quite as dramatic if you happen to live in an area where gasoline prices are significantly lower than the national site. Under most circumstances, electric vehicles will provide an opportunity for owners to spend somewhere in the territory of 50% less on fuel costs per year.
Good Battery Range
Tesla’s battery range is definitely limiting as far as electric vehicles go compared to traditional cars. While this is not a big deal if you decide to stick to the metro area, if you want to take a drive out to the forest, it’s a whole different story. You may not be able to make a round trip without requiring at least one recharge.
The battery ranges (EPA-estimated) of the vehicles in Tesla’s lineup are as follows:
- Tesla Model S: 380-402 miles
- Tesla Model 3: 263-353 miles
- Tesla Model X: 341-371 miles
- Tesla Model Y: 303-326 miles
However, despite Tesla cars’ limited range, they have a longer battery range than most other manufacturers. According to Harvard Business Review, this is due to Tesla’s innovative battery design. Rather than place the lithium-ion batteries in the trunk, Tesla features them as a flat pack underneath the cabin.
The manufacturer also has gone with a dual-motor system in most of its models, installing independent motors on the front and rear axles. Many other electric car manufacturers are known for simply installing the battery in the front or rear trunk only.
The result of Tesla’s battery placement is a lower center of gravity, greater energy density, and improved battery management. All these factors help contribute to a battery that delivers a better range.
Supercharger Network Available
The limited battery range of electric vehicles can put you in situations where you may run out of a charge at the most inconvenient times. Say that you are visiting a new city and put in more mileage than expected. What do you do when you have no way back home?
Fortunately, Tesla continues to install supercharger stations in metro areas across the country. These stations can bring your car’s battery back up to an adequate charge in as little as 30 minutes. You can grab a bite to eat and come back to a conveniently-recharged car.
Note: Tesla recommends that you do not get into the habit of frequently relying on supercharger stations. Overuse of these charging stations can reduce the battery capacity, resulting in a decreased battery range.
High Up-Front Costs
One of Tesla’s biggest disadvantages is its high price tags relative to other vehicles, at least initially. These costs include a delivery fee, which you would usually not have to worry about with other cars purchased from a dealership:
|Tesla Model||MSRP||Average New Car Cost for Vehicle Category (Traditional Vehicles)|
|Tesla Model S||$63,920-$86,490||$25,000|
|Tesla Model 3||$33,690-$50,690||$25,000|
|Tesla Model X||$74,690-$94,690||$26,000|
|Tesla Model Y||$45,690-$55,690||$33,000|
(Source: Lending Tree)
The Tesla Models S and X are considered luxury vehicles within their respective categories, hence the reason why they appear to cost so much more than their traditional vehicle counterparts.
The other vehicle models certainly fall within an affordable range for the average consumer, provided that the up-front costs of an electric vehicle will usually be a little higher than the price of a car with a traditional ICE.
Government Incentives & Rebates Available
Depending on which state you happen to live in, you may have access to government-issued rebates or tax credits specifically designated for electric vehicle buyers; this will certainly help to take the bite out of the up-front costs of Tesla cars.
You can find a full state-by-state list of the government incentives provided to Tesla owners here. You are also encouraged to consult the IRS website to confirm if your specific make and model is eligible for a tax credit.
Here are a few examples of government incentives currently offered:
- California: $2,000 or $4,500 rebate for Model 3 & Model Y
- Colorado: $4,000 tax credit
- New York: $2,000 rebate for new vehicles with a base price under $60,000
- Oregon: Standard rebate of $2,500
Limited Hauling/Towing Capabilities
Tesla owners can certainly make the most out of what storage space that they do have to offer, although electric vehicles, in general, will not be able to hold or haul the amount of cargo that standard cars do.
The cars in Tesla’s core lineup have somewhere in the range of 15 cubic feet to 87.8 cubic feet of storage space, with the Model X being the roomiest; this does not include the spacious Cybertruck, which is scheduled for release in late 2021.
Tesla cars actually stack up quite well against other vehicles within their respective classes in terms of storage space, but that’s not the problem. The problem is that Tesla does not have a car in their current lineup with the bounty of storage space that the average full-sized SUV has to offer. For example, the 2021 Ford Expedition has a cargo space of up to 104.6 cubic feet.
The towing capabilities of Teslas also tend to be significantly lower than their traditional counterparts.
Tesla Has an Electric Truck Model
Fortunately, Tesla recently came up with an answer to the electric vehicle towing/hauling issues. In November 2019, the innovative manufacturer unveiled a prototype of its pick-up truck—the Cybertruck—scheduled for release in late 2021.
The Tri-Motor model of the Tesla Cybertruck will have a battery range of up to 500 miles. This model will also be capable of towing a trailer weighing as much as 14,000 pounds. (The other models will be capable of 7,500+ pounds.) There is also an abundance of storage space on-board the Cybertruck, including a 6.5-foot long truck bed that comes with a tonneau cover the manufacturer claims is strong enough to be stood on.
You can order a Tesla Cybertruck here. The Tri-Motor model of the Cybertruck will be the first of three available models to be released. The Single-Motor and Dual-Motor versions will be available to order later.
Note: You only have to pay $100 to reserve a truck, and this amount is fully refundable if you decide to change your mind before the Cybertruck hits the market.
Expensive Auto Body Repair
One unfortunate aspect of Tesla ownership is the potential for high auto body repair costs. High costs are a consequence of the cars’ aluminum framework plus the fact that Tesla OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts are not yet widely available.
Tesla owners report spending several thousands of dollars just for minor body damage like fender benders that they could drive away from. While Tesla does have its own network of auto repair shops, these are few and far between. Some drivers even report spending several months waiting for auto body repairs. (These are repairs that you would anticipate taking considerably less time if you were driving a traditional vehicle.)
On the bright side, the manufacturer has gone through a valiant effort to ensure that more and more mechanics know how to repair electric cars. The growing network of Tesla-approved auto body shops should cut down on repair costs and delays in the coming years.
Lower Routine Maintenance Costs
The good news is that Tesla vehicles require a lot less routine maintenance than traditional cars; this is the upside of having only an average of 20 distinct parts per vehicle versus the 2,000 components seen in the common internal combustion engine.
Gone are the oil changes every 5,000 miles, the spark plug replacements every 30,000 miles or so, and the frequent engine tune-ups after the vehicle hits 100,000 miles. The brake pads won’t need to be replaced as often either because electric vehicles have a regenerative braking system that is more durable than conventional systems, according to the US Department Of Energy.
The service cost estimates seen here sums up what you can expect to pay year-by-year with a Tesla:
|Year of Ownership||Maintenance Cost Per Year|
|Year 1 (12,500 miles)||$400|
|Year 2 (25,000 miles)||$700|
|Year 3 (37,500 miles)||$400|
|Year 4 (50,000 miles)||$900|
|4 Year Total Maintenance Cost||$2,400|
By comparison, a traditional vehicle usually costs $1,186 per year to service if the car is brand new; this means that you may pay less than half the amount that you would need to service a standard vehicle in the first year of Tesla ownership.
Cellular App Integration with Updates
Part of Tesla’s business model involves installing more software in their vehicles than just about anyone else. The benefit of this is a vehicle that can be monitored and controlled extensively via a mobile app. The inclusion of software also allows Tesla to make over-the-air updates to improve vehicle performance.
App controls improve the driver experience in many ways:
- Allows the driver to back the car out of tight spaces without having to get into the car
- Monitors battery performance and provide advice on how to get the most out of your battery
- Helps you keep to a maintenance schedule
Not Many Models to Choose From
Tesla continues to add more vehicles to its lineup, such as the recent addition of the Model Y and the unveiling of the Cybertruck. In its current core lineup, Tesla offers just four different cars: The Model S, Model 3, Model X, and the Model Y.
The manufacturer is likely to continue the trend of unveiling new additions, but you won’t find much diversity in the lineup as it stands. Both the Model Y and Model X are SUVs, and the Model S and Model 3 are sedans. However, as previously mentioned, only the Model Y and Model 3 are readily affordable for the average consumer. The Cybertruck will also be pretty reasonably priced once the Dual Motor and Single Motor models become available.
The production of a mass-market vehicle hasn’t historically been Tesla’s game plan, although the Model Y is a great start. Tesla is beginning to have more competition in the race to appeal to the average consumer. For example, by comparison, the Ford Mustang Mach-E is available in five distinct models, ranging from $42,895 to $60,500.
Tesla has equipped its vehicles with autopilot features and self-driving capability. These applications do not take away your need to be aware of your surroundings, but they do make driving a lot easier.
The autopilot package includes features like:
- Matching Cruise Control: Your vehicle’s speed will match other vehicles’ speed on the highway when engaged.
- Autosteer: Assists with steering as long as the car is in a clearly-marked lane.
The Full Self-Driving Capability package is available for an additional $8,000. However, some drivers find the following attributes make it worth the extra cost:
- Navigate: The tech suggests lane changes and provides guidance for getting through interchanges and taking the right exit.
- Autopark: The car can be parked in parallel or perpendicular spaces with the simple push of a button.
- Summon: You can move your car in and out of tight parking spaces without having to squeeze into the car.
- Smart Summon: Drivers can summon their car to them from across a parking lot.
Out of all the cars on the market, are Tesla cars really worth it? In a nutshell: yes. Don’t let the initial price tags of the renowned brand scare you away. There are many reasons why their small lineup of vehicles is worth considering, both when generally compared to internal combustion engine cars and other electric automobile brands.
Tesla’s innovation makes their vehicles well worth the cost, from their maximized battery ranges to advanced technology that can be regularly updated with the simple use of an app.
Additionally, the company is starting to produce cars that appeal to the mass market; for example, the Model Y is much more affordable than its predecessors. The upcoming Cybertruck is Tesla’s answer to driver desires for something with a lot more hauling and towing power that also saves at the pump.