Tesla Death Watch 18: Eberhard Rethinks Running Costs

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Since being ousted from Tesla, Martin Eberhard has been thorn-siding the EV-makers in his Tesla Founders blog. Eberhard’s latest opus: a breakdown of running costs for the Roadster based on Northern California’s PG&E electricity rate structure. Eberhard has assembled a spreadsheet to evaluate and compare Elise-based EV running costs. The costs vary wildly, depending on whether the Roadster’s recharged during a standard-rate plan or a “Time Of Use” (TOU) plan, and whether or not the Roadster lover uses electricity to heat and cool their McMansion. Without solar panels, Eberhard calculates a Tesla Roadster costs PG&E users between two and six cents per mile (minus $102k msrp and insurance). His real world figure: about 3.6 cents per mile. In the comments section, Eberhard admits these numbers are higher than first indicated. “My first (naive) comments while at Tesla were between 1.5 cents and 2 cents per mile, if I recall correctly. These were just based on the lowest tier, off-peak rate for the E9 schedule. I didn’t take into account the impact of domestic consumption, usage that pushes you into higher tiers, or all the taxes and meter charges – these make a big difference.” A commenter points out that the official Tesla website still lists a running cost of “roughly one cent per mile” (though Tesla qualifies this claim with the usual “off-peak” and “your electricity rates may vary” boilerplate). If you’re a qualified spreadsheet monkey, follow the link to help Mr. Eberhard modify his template to include other local utility rates.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • Joeaverage Joeaverage on Sep 05, 2008

    If I can afford their sedan I will be looking at one. Everything I've read says the cost to fuel an EV is 1/4 to 1/6th of the cost to fuel a gasoline vehicle. Gasoline prices are falling but we are a little under one dollar more expensive than we were about a year ago. Is there any reason to believe that in another year we won't be another dollar or seventy-five cents more per gallon that now? I still maintain that an EV makes sense for a second car. For many of us an EV makes good sense as a first car as well. We'll keep a fossil fuel powered van around for a 3rd vehicle (weekend trips, towing, etc). Still working towards an EV whether the big-not-sobig anymore three wants to sell one to me or not.

  • Ricky Spanish Ricky Spanish on Sep 05, 2008

    he didn't take into account depreciation or insurance either, did he?

  • Bytor Bytor on Sep 05, 2008

    Tesla battery pack is more like $40000 than $10000. But I think they were claiming 200K miles. But I would consider what the warranty backs before otherwise useless claims because this one essentially uses standard laptop batteries, good luck with that after the warranty is up. We don't count the engine becuase usually it will outlast the car, but battery packs are a consumable item with a very finite lifespan. They must be counted as such in cost/mile.

  • Tauronmaikar Tauronmaikar on Sep 17, 2008

    Funny how Mr. Eberhart calculations change by almost a factor of 2 depending on whether or not he works for the company. Wait until people figure out the ridiculous claim of 256 mpg is also bogus.