Reader Question: Tesla vs. Camry?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Mark asks: While over on Yahoo, I noticed this article: I was wondering if you could do an analysis of this? Though my car, the Ford Focus, comes out cheaper than all of them, I find it hard to believe that the Tesla 3 would be less costly than a Toyota Camry.

My reply: The idiocy – the innumeracy – of this article is apparent in the first sentence: “The long-range Model 3’s sticker price is $44,500, roughly 85% higher than that of a Toyota Camry.” Italics added.

A 2019 Camry’s base price is $23,845. That is about half – 50 percent or so – the cost of the $44k Tesla.

Not “85 percent.”

Hilariously, the fool who wrote this would have made a better case had he used 50-or-so-percent rather than 85 percent.

Then the idiocy becomes subtler. The comparison is over a three-year period. Who keeps a car for only three years? An economic imbecile – that’s who. No one comes out “ahead” by keeping a new car for three years. Regardless of make or model, this is the period when it will lose the most value. You only begin to amortize what you spent to buy a car after ten years or so.

Which brings us to the egregious omissions which would factor into any honest consideration of the long-term cost of any electric car vs. a conventional IC car.

Specifically, the cost of replacing the EV’s battery pack – which has no analog in a non EV car because a non-EV car can reasonably be expected to run without needing a new engine or transmission for at least 12-15 years and possibly much longer – while an EV will need a new battery pack years before then.

EVs have a built-in shorter lifespan than an IC car.

The cost to replace a Tesla’s battery pack is several thousand dollars – the equivalent of having to replace the engine or transmission in a non-electric car every eight to ten years or so – and to not factor this into the total cost of ownership is journalistic incompetence beyond my capacity to articulate further.

My teeth begin to ache.

. . .

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  1. The percentage change between the two prices is 85%. However, they should probably have used percent difference as a comparison since neither value is “older” or “better”. The percent difference is ~60%.

    To your point, using the right comparison would have strengthened their argument. Ignoring, of course, all the other problems with it!


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