Tesla Model S vs Competitors: Cost of Maintenance Including Battery Replacement

What are the maintenance costs of a Tesla Model S versus it's competitors? In this video I break down the annual service costs and look at how much you'd save with a Tesla over a BMW 7 Series, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, and an Audi A7.


Data Sources

Audi Cost – www.edmunds.com/audi/a7/2014/cost-to-own/

Mercedes Cost – www.edmunds.com/mercedes-benz/s-class/2016/sedan/st-200713464/cost-to-own/

BMW Cost – www.edmunds.com/bmw/7-series/2014/cost-to-own/

Tesla Plans – www.tesla.com/support/service-plans

Tesla Battery Cost – www.investopedia.com/articles/active-trading/041515/economics-owning-tesla-car.asp

Tesla Warranty – www.reuters.com/article/us-tesla-warranty-idUSKCN0XO1M3

Full Transcript

Recently I had an issue with the windshield wiper on my Tesla where the motor actually went out and the arm broke, and this is the only issue I've had with my Tesla in the past year. This time what I had to do is actually have a Tesla Ranger, this is a service person that comes out to your house and fixes your car right there in your garage or in your driveway. This all cost me zero dollars because I'm under the four year warranty where basically everything for the Tesla is covered. And being the data geek that I am it got me to thinking what is the cost of maintaining this car, my Tesla Model S, compared to a similar gas powered car.

Now first I should just clarify that when I do my comparison it has to be to a similar gas powered car, I've seen a lot of comments there well my Honda this, or my KIA that, yes of course, those are cheap economical cars, they do not compare to these luxury high end sedans. So for this analysis I'm going to use a Mercedes Benz S-Class, an Audi A7, and a BMW 7 Series, and I'm gonna look at the cost of ownership, the actually maintenance cost of those cars compared to what I pay for my Tesla. So first I should mention that Tesla has had some reliability issues, in fact just recently Reuters reported that they're spending about 1,000 dollars per vehicle on warranty repairs compared to Ford and GM which are spending about 400 to 700 dollars per vehicle. So Tesla's actually having to repair these a lot more and spending a lot more money.

All I care about though is how much it actually is gonna cost me and kind of what the experience is gonna be like. So let's take a look at the data now and see what it actually tells us. First off Tesla offers a prepaid service plan which spans three, four, and eight years depending on which one you choose. This will reduce your overall cost, but we'll compare those alongside not having any prepaid plan as well, so I'll have all three examples here.

So looking at the total maintenance cost here over five years you can see that all three Tesla options are a lot cheaper than all the other options, the Mercedes, the BMW, and the Audi even are just many times over more expensive than owning a Tesla in terms of maintenance. So if you take a look at the total maintenance cost over five years what you can see is that the most expensive is the Mercedes Benz S-Class clocking in at around 18,000 dollars in maintenance, the BMW 7 Series clocking in around 17,000 dollars just behind it, the Audi is significantly cheaper, around 10,000 dollars, or 9,500, and then all of the Tesla options are just significantly cheaper than all of those. In fact, the most expensive one is 2,800 bucks. There isn't really saving much in terms of the agony of dealing with a car dealership here, but you are gonna be saving a ton of money over the cost over those five years.

But what if we look at the actual details year by year? So on the left here I have each car and then year by year I have the actual cost of maintenance, and you can see that as time goes on, at least for the BMW and the Mercedes, the costs just tend to go up and up, where as the Audi and the Tesla are all pretty flat. In fact Audi actually looks like it decreases over time which is kind of nice. So I guess when you think about it there aren't gonna be any big surprises here with the Tesla or the Audi for that matter. Now if we wanna compare on a percentage basis and we wanna look at let's take the most expensive Tesla model, the Tesla service, the non-prepaid one, remember it's about 2,800 bucks, compare that to the Audi A7, the BMW, and the Mercedes, you can see that with the Audi you're actually still saving about 241 percent, close to 7,000 dollars over the cheapest car, the similar gas powered car. Compare that to the BMW and you're at 500 percent savings and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class you're near 550 percent savings, almost 15,000 dollars or North of 15,000 dollars that you're saving in maintenance costs alone. That's a big deal and that really adds up, and this is only a five year comparison.

Now I know a lot of you are out there thinking well what about the replacement of the battery, I've even had people comment saying, you know you have to replace the battery every year which I'm yet to find data on. But the way it works is there is a eight year warranty on your Tesla battery, and it's an infinite mile warranty up to eight years, so any problems you have before that they're gonna replace it for you. But after that the cost that we're looking at is about 12,000 dollars to replace it, that's based on current standards, exactly how they're producing them now. So if we were to forecast out let's say eight years from when you bought your Tesla so that we're eight years from now, the price of producing the batteries is gonna continue to drop. So if we were to take the 12,000 dollars now and reduce it down to say 8,000 dollars, and then add that in to the cost here of our maintenance and let's just assume that we absorbed all of those 8,000 dollars within the first five years, again it's a little wonky but I'm trying to appease anybody that has concerns about replacing the batteries here.

If you wanted to do that you would be a little bit over on the Audi, you'd be saving a little bit on money, the 1.3 thousand or 12 percent over the Audi A7, but then you're still saving close to 60 percent on the BMW and nearly 70 percent over the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. So you're still saving six to 7,000 dollars compared to these other cars, that's with the assumption that you would be replacing the battery on your own within five years, which really isn't gonna happen. Now I'll put a caveat out there that of course owning a Tesla is not a way to save money, that's not a good plan, but if you are in the market for one of these high end luxury sedans and you look at this, you're gonna see that you're gonna have a much better experience and save a decent amount of money there. In addition to saving money on amenities you're also no longer gonna have to worry about spending time getting gas at the pump, no more oil changes, no more filters every couple of months, all of that coupled with the fact that the car seats five people comfortably and has more storage space than any of these other sedans, in fact it has more than my wife's midsize SUV, and it has the highest safety rating of any car ever tested.

I think what you'll find is that when you compare the Tesla to any of these other luxury sedans in this class it comes out ahead in almost every category that you look at. All right, so there it is, the cost or the savings that you're gonna have of a Tesla compared to a similar gas powered vehicle. I hope you like this video, if you have any other thoughts, comments, things I missed, please put them in the comments below, subscribe, and I'll see you back here next time

What is a Tesla Model S?

(src: wikipedia.org)
The Tesla Model S is a full-size all-electric five-door, luxury liftback, produced by Tesla Motors, and introduced in June 2012.[10] It scored a perfect 5.0 NHTSA automobile safety rating, as well as being the “third fastest accelerating production car ever produced,” and the fastest accelerating car in production as of December 2016.[11] The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official range for the 2012 Model S Performance model equipped with an 85 kWh (310 MJ) battery pack is 265 miles (426 km), higher than any other electric car at the time.[12][13][14] EPA rated its energy consumption at 237.5 watt-hours per kilometer (38 kWh/100 mi or 24 kWh/100 km) for a combined fuel economy of 89 miles per gallon gasoline equivalent (2.64 L/100 km or 107 mpg-imp).[12][15]

In 2016, Tesla updated the design of the Model S, which now looks more like the Model X. The 60, 60D, 70, 70D, 75, 75D and 90D versions are available. 70 and 70D Model S owners have the option to unlock the 75 kWh capacity via a software update, adding up to 19 miles (31 km) per charge.[16] The 60 and 60D, reintroduced in June 2016, owners have a US$9,000 anytime option to unlock the full 75 kWh capacity via a software update.[17] In August 2016, Tesla introduced the P100D to be the new top-level model. The P100D model has a 100kWh battery, a 0–60 mph (0–97 km/h) time of 2.5 seconds and over 300 miles (485 km) of EPA rated range.[18]

The Model S became the first electric car to top the monthly new car sales ranking in any country, twice leading in Norway, in September and again in December 2013;[19][20][21][22] and also in Denmark in December 2015.[23] Global Model S sales passed the 150,000 unit milestone in November 2016, with the U.S. as the leading market with 57% of global sales.[24] Other leading country markets are Norway, China, the Netherlands, Canada, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland.[25]

The Model S ranked as the world's best selling plug-in electric vehicle in 2015, up from second best in 2014,[25][26] and continued to lead global plug-in car sales during the first nine months of 2016.[27] The Model S also ranked as the top selling plug-in electric car in the U.S. in 2015.[28][29] As of November 2016, the Model S ranked as the world's second best selling plug-in electric car in history after the Nissan Leaf.[24]

The Tesla Model S won awards including the 2013 World Green Car of the Year, 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year, Automobile magazine's 2013 Car of the Year, Time Magazine Best 25 Inventions of the Year 2012 award and Consumer Reports top-scoring car in its road testing. In 2015, Car and Driver named the Model S the Car of the Century.[30] After declining to recommend the Model S in 2015 due to reliability issues, one year later Consumer Reports added the car to the magazine's recommended list.[31][32]


  1. Batteries don’t die with time or with miles. They the lose efficiency when discharge completely. . Within 10 years you’d expect the battery to lose between 10% to 20%. This means when the battery says it’s 100% full it’s 80% (if 20%loss in efficiency). . Instead of getting 265 miles range you might get 208 miles (@80 %).

    For everyday use most people don’t drive more than 60 miles round trip and at most 120 miles in a day so still only quarter or half empty before you recharge overnight . If going on a road trip then one extra stop at a super charge station.

    CEO Elon Musk once referred to a battery pack Tesla was testing in the lab. He said that the company had simulated over 500,000 miles on it and that it was still operating at over 80% of its original capacity.

    By 10 years 75% of people buy a new car because depreciation and paint dent damage and because they want new comfort and safety features so it appears a Tesla is still cheaper to run over 10 years.

  2. Most people spend $15,000+ on batteries over their lifetime and this number continues to grow each day because people are using more and more batteries, and batteries continue to get more expensive.

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  3. so 351 miles?? that meaning you can’t go Las Vegas and cost for replace battery $12,000 in 5 years why I have to buy is it just a car???

  4. Bullshit on the 500k miles…. musk is a damn crook and you can’t trust anything he says…. first the pack is only going to last about 2-3 years if you quick charge often. Second, I don’t want to have to charge my car for 70 hours just to not even be able to go 200 miles.. not to mention by the time a shitty tesla comes off the assembly line it’s already made more pollution than an 80 small block males in 120k miles of service….

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