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Electrically powered and automatically driven, Teslas are some of the most sought after cars on the market today. Tesla's four models — the Model S, Model X, Model 3 and Model Y — range significantly in cost, both when you buy and over time. Here's what you need to know before you purchase a Tesla.
How much does it cost to own a Tesla?
Teslas are expensive vehicles. The most basic model currently available, the Model 3, starts at $46,990, while the Model X's price can run as high as $138,990 — even before extras. In comparison, a new Toyota Camry has a sticker price of about $26,000.
|Model Y||Long range||$65,990|
Like any carmaker, Tesla also offers extra add-ons that improve your vehicle, but adding upgrades increases the cost when you buy. Current upgrade options include:
|Black and white interior||$1,000|
Current upgrade options available for the Model 3. Pricing and availability may differ by model.
What are Autopilot and Full Self-Driving?
Autopilot, Enhanced Autopilot and Full Self-Driving (FSD) are levels of automation software that you can choose to add to your Tesla.
- Standard Autopilot comes with every new Tesla and limits you to traffic-aware cruise control and automatic steering/lane-keeping.
- Enhanced Autopilot also includes highway navigation, automatic parking and Smart Summon, which calls your car to you in a garage or parking lot.
- Full Self-Driving is currently in beta and will drive your car all the way from your origin to its destination with no input from you.
Tesla's autopilot capabilities have been improving over time, but they've also become increasingly expensive. When Full Self-Driving was first announced, it cost $8,000 total to "preorder" Full Self-Driving; that price has nearly doubled. And it's not clear when, if ever, Full Self-Driving will be cleared for use by the general public.
How much does it cost to lease a Tesla?
Whether you own the hatchback Model S or crossover SUV Model X or are waiting anxiously for the Model 3, you are going to need to spend a good deal of money to lease a Tesla. Even if you lease, we found you will need at least a few thousand dollars at signing due to sales taxes and delivery fees.
Monthly lease payment
|Model Y||Long range||$851|
All leases are 36 months long. Model 3 and Y have $4,500 down payments, while Model S and X have $7,500 down payments.
Cost of insuring a Tesla
On average, we found that insuring a new Tesla costs $3,947 per year. But as you'd expect, the pricier (and faster) models cost more to insure.
The Model Y is the least expensive Tesla to insure, with a typical price of $3,057 per year. And the Model X costs the most, at $4,956 annually.
The cheapest insurer we found for a Tesla is Tesla Insurance, run by the car manufacturer itself. However, it's only available in 11 states. For Tesla drivers in other states, we recommend State Farm, USAA or Nationwide.
Where is Tesla brand insurance available?
Tesla currently sells insurance in 11 states:
Every state except California uses Tesla's Safety Score in order to set rates, which we found will reduce the prices of coverage even more — if you score well.
Cost of charging a Tesla and gas savings
Being an electric-powered car, a Tesla allows you to get around without buying gas. That being said, charging your Tesla isn't free — it requires a good deal of electricity. So how much will you save on gas with an electric vehicle (EV)?
On average, a Tesla Model 3 will get about 3.75 miles per kilowatt hour (kWh), depending on how fast you drive and the weather, among other factors. Electricity in the U.S. costs an average of 15.42 cents per kWh. Gas-powered luxury cars that are comparable to a Tesla get around 25 miles per gallon. The table below assumes an average gas price of $2.93 per gallon.
Cost for gasoline car
Cost for Tesla Model 3
Typical gas price is based on the average over the last 36 months.
Heavy drivers actually stand to save the most by switching to a Tesla or another electric car, as they will be paying much less in fuel costs.
Keep in mind that the cost of electricity varies by location, time of year and even time of day in some places: You may be able to bring your bill down even more by opting for "time of use" electricity and charging your car when demand is lowest — usually late at night.
You'll also likely pay more to charge your Tesla at a Supercharger or another commercial fast charging facility. You're most likely to find the best prices by charging at home.
Savings from tax rebates
Finally, you may also be able to save some money through rebates and tax incentives since Teslas are electric cars.
Starting in 2023, some Tesla models will potentially again qualify for a $7,500 credit as part of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
The EV credit included in the IRA only applies to cars and SUVs that meet the following requirements:
- Car priced below $55,000 or SUV priced below $80,000
- Assembled in North America
- Certain portion of battery from U.S. or free-trade country (minimum gradually increases to 90%+ in 2029)
Starting in January, the Model 3 and Model Y will likely qualify, while the Model S and Model X will not.
Additionally, only people who make less than a certain amount of money will qualify: $150,000 per year for single earners, $225,00 for heads of household and $300,000 for couples filing jointly.
However, the new tax credit will be paid as part of a discount when you buy the car instead of on your taxes, meaning you'll get the savings right away.
Some states give additional benefits, as well. Be aware, though, if you lease the vehicle, that only California, Colorado and Massachusetts offer incentives that apply to leasing.
Frequently asked questions
How much does a Tesla car cost?
The cost of a Tesla ranges from $46,990 for a base-level Model 3 to $138,990 for the most powerful Model X.
How much is insurance for a Tesla?
Full coverage car insurance for a Tesla costs $3,947 per year on average, depending on which model you have, where you live, your driving history and which insurer you choose.
How much does it cost to charge a Tesla?
The average driver will spend about $500 per year to charge their Tesla Model 3. That's a bit more than one-third of the cost of gas for the same total distance.