Will the Tesla semi actually save money?

Tesla is claiming the semi will offer the lowest Total Cost of Ownership


I have a friend named Brian (here is his Tesla referral code). He did some legwork that I had started on but he finished a great summary and I did not. I added my details and an estimated total cost of ownership (TCO). Any errors in math are mine and mine alone.

Let’s bake some numbers.

This site gives an estimated cost of a Class 8 semi-tractor costs of about $120,000.

Some further assumptions:

Let’s assume the Tesla semi costs $250,000/500 mile range and $200,000/300 mile range
Semi-tractor lifespan of 10 years (had to set a limit somewhere)
Tires, regardless of vehicle, can cost $2,500-$3,000 per year (not added into TCO calculations)
Diesel semi-tractor maintenance averages $20,000 per year

From Tesla’s reveal and website: Electric energy costs are half those of diesel. With fewer systems to support, the Tesla Semi provides $200,000+ in fuel savings and a two-year payback period. $0.07kWh cost as announced by Elon Musk. It was also announced that energy usage would be under 2kWh per mile.

Running the numbers:
Let’s calculate at 1.8kWh per mile:

Per 1,000 miles ($0.07kWh * 1000mi * 1.8kWh) = $126.00 per 1,000 miles

Let’s calculate at 8mpg for diesel:

Per 1,000 miles ($3.00/gal * 1000mi / 8mpg) = $375.00 per 1,000 miles
Per 1,000 miles ($2.50/gal * 1000mi / 8mpg) = $312.00 per 1,000 miles

So far ‘fueling’ of the Tesla semi is cheaper via electricity but what’s the TCO?

According to this site the average cost per year is over $20K in maintenance for a semi-tractor over a 10-15 year lifespan (Note: so far no Tesla vehicle of any type has this age) and this site states that drivers run between 45K and 100K miles per year. Let’s split the difference and call it 72,500 miles per year.

Electricity costs, 1 year, 72.5K miles:

($0.07kWh *1.8kWh) * 72,500 miles = $9,135.00 per year

Diesel costs, 1 year, 72.5K miles:

($3.00/gal / 8mpg) * 72,500 miles = $27,187.50 per year
($2.50/gal / 8mpg) * 72,500 miles = $22,656.25 per year

That’s significant.

We don’t know what the cost of maintenance on the Tesla semi will be. Using what I know about the cost to support a Model S ($3,075 over 5 years) vs Audi A8 ($10,670 over 5 years) we have a ratio we can use: $20,000 * .28819 = $5,763.80 per year but let’s round it up to $6,000.

Fuel costs over 10 years:

Eff. Miles/y 1y 5y 10y 10y Savings
Diesel $3.00/gal 8mpg 72,500 $27,187.50 $135,937.5.0 $271,875.00  $180,525.00
$2.50/gal 8mpg 72,500 $22,656.25 $113,281.25 $226,562.50  $135,212.50
Electricity $0.07/kWh 1.8kWh/m 72,500 $9,135.00 $45,565.00 $91,350.00

 

 

 

 

 

Now let’s look at maintenance costs over 10 years (Tesla numbers are an estimate!):

1y 5y 10y 10y Savings
Diesel $20,000.00 $100,000.00 $200,000.00  $140,000.00
Electricity $6000.00 $30,000.00 $60,000.00

 

 

 

 

So far the numbers do not correlate to a $200K savings in fuel ($180K) but TCO still comes out ahead for the Tesla semi if my estimations are correct:

 Tractor 10y fuel 10y maintenance Total $$/mile Savings (300)  Savings (500)
Diesel @$3.00/gal $120,000.00 $271,875.00 $200,000.00 $595,875.00 $0.82189  $244,525.00  $194,525.00
Diesel @$2.50/gal $120,000.00 $226,562.50 $200,000.00 $546,562.50 $0.75387  $195,212.50 $145,212.50
Tesla 300 mile $200,000 $91,350.00 $60,000.00 $351,350.00 $0.48462
Tesla 500 mile $250,000 $91,350.00 $60,000.00 $401,350.00 $0.55358

 

 

 

 

 

 

Use my referral link if you like what I wrote up and want to get free Supercharging for your own Tesla.

Additional blog post by another author.

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