How Cheap Fuel Makes a Tesla Model 3 More Expensive to Run than a BMW 330i (Video)

It's dino-juice verses electric current!

Model 3 and 330i
Tesla Model 3 vs. BMW 3-Series in a fuel-source smackdown (photo: TFL)

With gasoline prices cratering to inflation-adjusted prices not seen since the 1980s, there’s a chance that the cost savings of an electric vehicle over a gas-powered vehicle have evaporated. So, Tommy at TFL decided to break it down on video and see if it was true. In his analysis he pits two very similar cars against each other in an anlysis of how much it would cost to drive 1,000 miles a 2020 Tesla Model 3 vs. a 2020 BMW 330i using electricity costs and gasoline prices for regular unleaded from this past week.

Tesla Model 3 vs. BMW 330i

Let’s start with the Model 3 using Tesla Supercharging:

And now we cost out the BMW 330i:

In this scenario, the BMW is the cheaper vehicle to operate on a day-to-day basis (excluding the prorated costs of oil and filter changes and other engine maintenance, of course).

*BMW’s turbo engines require premium fuel to run their best. At press time the national average for premium was $2.43 according to AAA. Using that number the 330i’s cost to travel 1,000 miles jumps to $80.19. That puts the Tesla in the winner’s column despite this historic collapse in gasoline prices.

Charging at Home Puts Tesla Way Ahead

The comparison above is based on the cost of usings Tesla’s Supercharger network, which usually charges much more than what your local utility charges use to charge an EV in your garage. In Tommy’s analysis, he runs the same numbers for the Model 3 above but using an average fuel cost of $0.13 KwH from the U.S. Energy Information Administration to determine how much our Tesla would cost to power up for 1,000 miles.

The answer: $31.20.

Telsa Model S vs. BMW M5

So Tesla loses (barely) when going up against regular unleaded. But what happens when you up the performance game for each make to the Model S from Tesla and BMW M5 with a twin-turbo V8? Let’s start with the Tesla.

  • 350 KwH/1,000 miles Efficiency
  • $0.28/KwH Cost of Electricity
  • $98.00 to travel 1,000 miles using Tesla’s Supercharger network.

Ane the BMW M5

  • 59 gal./1,000 miles Efficiency
  • $1.81/gal. Cost of Fuel*
  • $106.79 to travel 1,000 miles using regular unleaded gasoline.

*Yes, we know the BMW M5 runs on premium gas, which bumps the total cost to run the sports sedan up to $143.37.

We highly doubt the price of gas will continue to stay this cheap. But for now, its low cost provides some food for thought and a fun exercise. To see Tommy walk his way through all of his calculations, click on the video below.