If you take your car to enough Electric Vehicle (EV) events, you quickly realize almost everyone asks the same questions – often in the same order! Here are the questions I hear the most and my answers to them:
1. How far can a Tesla Model 3 go on a charge?
To me, this question is like asking how many minutes your phone lasts on a charge. Sure, battery life is important, but literally 99% of the time I am using my car, this never crosses my mind. My Model 3 – the Long Range version – is rated to 310 miles, but I would never charge to 100% and drive down to 0%, so that’s not really a realistic number. For daily driving, the total range is irrelevant, because I have more than enough range to go everywhere I want to go in a day (for several days, really). I typically charge to 80% at home every few days, which is WAY more than enough for my driving needs.
The only time range is even a consideration for me is during long (several hours or more) road trips. This is where it’s nice to have a larger battery, both because you can go further on a single charge, but also because the larger battery will charge faster. Please see the Tips & Tricks page for more details about Tesla road trip strategies.
2. How long does it take to charge a Tesla Model 3?
Again, using the cell phone analogy, how long does it take to charge your phone? You probably don’t know, because it’s never an issue. You just throw it on the charger overnight and it’s ready to go in the morning. A Tesla is the same. Plug in in when you get home and it will be ready to go when you leave. You will never drive down to 0% and then charge up to 100%, so that makes answering this question tricky too.
A note about battery health: Tesla batteries don’t like to sit idle at a very low (near 0%) or very high (near 100%) charge. This is why it is recommended to only charge above 90% prior to leaving for a road trip, and if you do this, try to time it so the car will reach 100% shortly before you are leaving, as opposed to the day before.
I explain this in more detail on the Tips & Tricks page, but even on a road trip, it makes no sense to sit around waiting for your car to reach 100% charge before leaving. All you need is enough charge (plus whatever buffer you are comfortable with) to get to your next charging stop.
Given all of that, my answer to this question is that I charge at home 99% of the time and have no idea how long it takes, but on road trips, I typically stop at Tesla Superchargers for 15-20 minutes every two or three hours. This is enough time for me to stretch my legs, use the restroom, grab a drink and/or a bite to eat, and have enough charge to be on my way.
3. Where do you charge your Tesla?
99% of the time, I charge at home. I installed Tesla’s High Power Wall Connector in my garage, but this is not necessary. A 240 volt outlet is sufficient. Heck, you can charge on a common 110 volt wall outlet, but it will take a very long time. The advantage of the HPWC is that you can keep the charging cable in your car (the HPWC has its own cable), so you’ll never risk leaving it home when you take a road trip. The HPWC also looks nicer and you won’t risk wearing out the outlet by inserting and removing the charging cable over and over.
4. How much does it cost to charge a Tesla Model 3?
This question is like asking how much a tank of gas costs, which of course depends on the cost of gas and the size of the tank. The better apples-to-apples metric here is to figure out how much it costs to drive 1 mile.
Where I live, electricity costs around 10 cents per kwh. My “spirited” driving results in 250 wh per mile energy usage, meaning I can drive 4 miles per 1000 watts (1 kw) of energy usage. So that means driving my Tesla Model 3 costs me 2.5 cents per mile. You can calculate what a gas car costs to drive per mile by taking the cost of gas and dividing by the mpg it gets. ie, if gas costs $2.50 per gallon and a car gets 25 mpg, it costs 10 cents per mile to drive that car.
Supercharging will cost a little bit more than charging at home (as it should), but even that is very reasonable. The cost varies from state to state and can be found on Tesla’s website. To give you an idea though. I drove from Florida to Pennsylvania and back (around a 2200 mile road trip) and my total Supercharging cost was $76.
This is a good place for me to mention that if you use my Tesla referral code (mark26115) when ordering your Tesla, you will get 1000 miles of free supercharging.
Anyway, back the the original question. If you really want to know what a “full tank” (battery) costs, the full 310-miles battery would cost me under $8 to fill up at home (even though I’d never actually do this, as explained above).
5. What about maintenance for a Tesla?
I’m glad you asked! In addition to low per-mile operating expense explained above, the maintenance costs for a Tesla are very low. Remember, there is no engine, so all of those countless parts that break in Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) cars don’t exist in a Tesla. No more alternators, timing belts, head gaskets, spark plugs, oil changes, etc, etc, etc. The average ICE car has something like 1800 parts in an engine compared to just 18 in a Tesla motor. Don’t quote me on that, but that’s pretty close. Google it.
Back to the question: Routine maintenance for a Tesla is essentially this:
- Windshield washer fluid
Yes, seriously, that’s it. It is only fair to mention here that the instant torque of an electric car (this is what causes the “Tesla Smile”) will cause tire wear faster than in ICE cars, but it is totally worth it!
6. How much does it cost to replace the battery pack in a Tesla?
“Sure, Tesla’s are inexpensive to operate, but how much will it cost to replace the batter when it dies?” This is a super common misconception, and one where the cell phone analogy does not work, because Tesla’s use a completely different battery technology then cell phones.
I should also mention that my Tesla Model 3 came with an 8 year, 125,000 warranty on the battery pack… but more importantly, data shows this isn’t an issue. There are Tesla taxi services with 400,000+ miles and their battery packs are still operating above 90% efficiency – just 10% degradation after nearly half a million miles! No one has owned a Tesla long enough to say for sure, but all the evidence out there suggests Tesla batteries (and motors, btw) should last 500,000 and maybe even 1 million miles, far longer than almost anyone keeps a car.
So the answer to this question is really: “It doesn’t matter. It’s not an issue. You won’t drive the car long enough to ever find out.”