Photo by Taun Stewart on Unsplash

It seems that every day a new video comes out comparing a Tesla Model (S/X/3) to other cars, be them traditional ICE or other EV like the Porsche Taycan. But these comparisons are always around:

  • Drag racing times
  • Track times

Here is what we know: Tesla are faster or as fast as nearly all other production cars on the road in the 0-60MPH tests. Same for the Porsche Taycan. Depending on your model (performance or not) you will be able to hang with or beat your favorite sports car. In most cases, your Tesla will be less expensive, by a wide margin.

While these values are interesting, they are not selling points for people that simply want to replace their sedan with something with a nod toward the future. People looking at new car purchases should be focusing on the savings electric vehicles (EV) have over their traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) counter-parts. There are many savings to be found.

Benefits with EV vehicles:

  1. No exhaust muffler to replace
  2. No catalytic converter that needs replacing
  3. No oxygen sensor to go bad
  4. No exhaust headers that develop cracks
  5. No timing chains that need adjusting
  6. No fan belts to go bad on the road
  7. No oil changes - ever!
  8. No emissions tests - ever!
  9. No need to replace the awful factory stereo with an after-market unit
  10. Brakes pads that last MUCH longer (due to regenerative braking)
  11. No idling the vehicle for 10 minutes to warm up in winter (for some of us!)
  12. No spark plugs to replace
  13. No transmission with gears that wear out

Stop and consider that list for a moment. Nearly all the items associated with parts that move / rotate or burn fuel are removed from the maintenance equation. The only maintenance that a Tesla / EV has in common with a traditional auto are:

  1. Tires
  2. Brake pads
  3. Brake fluid
  4. Coolant (for the battery)
  5. Air-conditioning system

These are the true benefits to owning a Tesla (or other EV). And these have nothing to do with the 0-60 times or top speeds or any of that nonsense. Sure, it might be great to have a car that doesn't bog down accelerating on the highway to merge in with traffic, but that is insignificant compared to the rest of the savings.

Who wouldn't enjoy never waiting for another oil change again?

Here is a great video from Andy Slye that goes into detail about his experience and costs with a Model 3. There are a number of these types of videos out there and I highly recommend people watch some to get different perspectives and experiences.

I am not trying to be naive here. While there are definitely benefits to switching to an EV, there are still costs involved, both a money AND an environmental cost to consider. An auto that is already manufactured has already used the energy to build it. The costs to maintain an existing vehicle needs to be balanced with the costs to manufacture an entirely new vehicle, such as a Tesla Model 3. However the long-term trend here is clear: the Tesla EV will last MUCH longer than a traditional combustion engine vehicle and the environmental cost should be much lower for that longer lifespan.

One datapoint: a friend owns a 2013 Tesla Model S. They purchased it new, putting them as one of the very early adopters of the brand. They still own the Model S today (2020) and love it. Owning a car nearly 7 years is fairly rare. The fact that they still love to drive it and have very little motivation to upgrade is a testament to the vehicles that Tesla produce.

I really do wish there were some good data on what the ongoing maintenance costs of an ICE vehicle are, with regards to environmental impact, materials used, etc., compared to a Tesla. You have to factor in the some 25 oil changes for an auto to go 150,000 miles, plus fuel, plus brakes and hoses and belts, transmission fluid and oil filters, etc.

On the EV side, you have to factor in the cost of charging, charging ports (home installation) and electricity generation.

The great thing is: a Tesla is definitely a vehicle your parents could purchase and love!

These vehicles have really come a long way and part of their success is getting over-the-air updates. I still remember when we purchased our used 2012 GMC Yukon and the navigation system update was a paid-for (expensive!) DVD upgrade that almost no one ever did. Instead, you just lived with a really bad navigation system (not to mention audio system controls that are a danger to use while driving!). Not the case with a Tesla. Their updates not only fix and improve the way things work, they also include new features, like better mileage or video games! What upgrade has GM / Ford / Dodge ever given you that made your car better?

So really, while it would be exciting to rocket from 0-60MPH in 3.0 seconds, your opportunities to execute that launch are limited. Even the "slowest" Tesla Model 3 will do 0-60 in 5.3 seconds. Our 2015 Audi A4 feels quite fast and is still slower than the base Model 3 rear-wheel drive! Get the dual-motor Model 3 and the Audi is left in the dust. But all the other benefits are the real reasons why our next vehicle will likely be a Tesla (whenever that happens).