Recharging a Tesla can be free if you live close to a Supercharger, but what if you don’t, what are the economics of recharging at home each night? After spending some time with the Model X P100D, its time to break it down.
The P100D has a 100kw battery pack, made up of thousands of small lithium-ion battery cells. These are heated and cooled accordingly to find the right balance between performance and longevity. That battery pack is large and therefore takes a long time to charge at home, up to 24 hours if you were empty, you won’t be.
When charging the car at home in Australia, you’ll connect the included 240V charger from the wall, to the car. At 10 Amps, this will provide around 8km of range every hour you have the charger connected. The idea here is that you’ll top up each night, pay a few dollars and as a net, be well ahead of what you’d pay to refuel your tank every week or 2 at the petrol station. As a comparison, at the Supercharger, I was able to get more than 480km of range for every hour, remembering the charge rate slows near the end as the battery reaches capacity.
For the month of May, our 4 bedroom home typically uses around 13.53 kWh per day. Our current energy plan with EnergyAustralia has that cost estimated at A$4.67 per day.
On the days I connected the Tesla to the charger, the 21st, 22nd and 23rd, the usage obviously rose. Our highest usage day was the 22nd where we used 34.99 kWh which cost (estimated) $12.09. If we compare this against what an average day of electricity usage, we used 21.46 kWh more energy, correlating to a cost of $7.42 to recharge the car. This extra cost translated to a couple hundred km of range. Given we receive a 30% discount for paying on time, the actual cost in the worse case (charging from 8PM to 8AM) would cost A$5.194.
What is important to understand is that my usage was a little atypical in that I was reviewing the car, so took journeys I wouldn’t in normal ownership. This means in a normal week, you’re much more likely to pay a couple of dollars per night, or around $10-15 per week depending on your power rates. This represents a significant reduction in the running costs of an EV, as compared to an average petrol, diesel or gas-powered car.
Tesla’s recharging page offers a comparison slider that allows you to compare a Model S or Model X against petrol vehicles. Its important to note these however they assume competitive SUVs achieve just 10.5litres per 100km at $1.15 per litre
If I owned a Tesla, I would leverage the nearby Wodonga Supercharger and for an average week, may only need to recharge once, avoiding costs at home. If I was to travel for a holiday, I’d look for accommodation that offers destination charging (included in the cost of the room).
With Tesla’s chargers in high demand internationally, the decision has been made to begin charging for charging now. New Tesla purchasers will receive 400 kW of free Supercharging credit annually which is good for around 1600 km. After you expend your free credit, power from a Supercharger is costed at 35c per kWh. Energy Australia charges per kWh start at 37c per kWh and reach 40kWh with a 144c supply charge per day. Tesla’s clearly able to get a better rate commercially that private customers, which means you’ll likely still benefit from charging at the Supercharger than at home. That said, you need to consider your distance from a Supercharger and the convenience of charging in your own garage.
Those who purchased a Tesla early will continue to enjoy unlimited recharging for the life of their vehicles, but if you can manage to refer someone else who buys a Tesla, you get back on the unlimited train.