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Published on May 3rd, 2019 | by Zachary Shahan

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Tesla Model 3 vs. Toyota Camry — 15 Cost Scenarios

May 3rd, 2019 by  


I’ve got another report here comparing the Tesla Model 3 to a top selling car in the USA.

The Model 3 was the 5th best selling car in the USA in the second half of 2018, the 11th best in all of 2018, and the 13th best in the first quarter of 2019. The Toyota Camry was the top selling car in the USA in 2018 and has long been at or near the top of the list.

Tesla Model 3 and Model S

White Tesla Model 3, red Tesla Model S, blue Tesla Model 3, and blue Tesla Model S in this picture.

Following comparisons with the Honda Accord (which basically assumed a straight cash purchase for both the Accord and the Model 3), I decided to add in estimates for loan interest in all coming comparisons. As with almost every figure used in the comparisons, if you’re going to run the numbers, you have to make some assumptions/estimates. For these comparisons, I assumed $5,000 down and 5.5% interest on both cars. Other assumptions I used across the board (and you are free to modify as you like in your own spreadsheet) include:

  • Kelley Blue Book estimates for resale values/depreciation after 5 years.
  • $3,750 US federal tax credit for the Tesla Model 3.
  • No extra features for the Model 3 or the Camry (of course, that leave the Camry for much worse performance and driving assistance tech, as well as a significantly lower NHTSA safety rating).
  • $0.10 average cost of electricity for charging (this could be much lower or significantly higher, depending on the individual, but I think it’s a decent guess for a median value).
  • $3/gallon for gasoline. The average price in California is currently over $4/gallon. In New York, it’s nearly $3/gallon. In Florida it’s $2.8/gallon and in Texas it’s $2.6/gallon. The price of gas will surely fluctuate in the coming 5 years — it could go much higher or could drop lower again. I’d bet on it going higher, and thus see $3/gallon as conservative (favoring the Camry), but it’s up to you what figure you think is best to go with for this period of time.
  • $0 maintenance costs. There’s a strong case the Model 3’s maintenance costs should be much lower than the Camry’s, but we simply don’t have much insight into what is in store after 5 years of ownership, so I’m leaving the figure at $0 and anyone can easily add maintenance costs as they see fit and quickly adjust the calculations.
  • 4 miles per kWh efficiency for the Model 3, which is a bit lower than the official rating.
  • MPG ratings from Toyota’s website for each of the trims.

The key factor I adjusted for these comparisons was miles driven per year. That is a highlight personal matter, so I simply decided to use the national average, a “high-milage” scenario, and a “low-milage” scenario.

Toyota Camry options

Also, I compared the Model 3 Standard Range Plus (SR+) with 5 different trims of the Toyota Camry. There are a few other trims available, but I tried to use a decent range of the options, including the cheapest option, the most expensive option, and a couple of hybrids.

Before jumping into the comparison, I’ll just emphasize the most important note: You should copy my spreadsheet and fill in your own numbers for the best estimates for your story. I don’t expect my 15 scenarios to be a perfect fit for many readers. There are too many variables and too many assumptions. You can copy my sheet from here to create your own tool to play with.

Now, on to the fun!

13,500 Miles/Year

Chart: Tesla Model 3 vs Toyota Camry - 5 Year Cost at 13,500 miles per year

Tesla Model 3 SR+ vs. Toyota Camry XLE V6

Model Tesla Model 3 Toyota Camry XLE V6
Purchase Price $39,500 $34,150
5 Year Resale Value (via KBB) $19,236.50 $12,362.30
Cash Cost after Resale $20,263.50 $21,787.70
Incentives -$3,750 $0
Cash Cost after Incentives & Resale Deduction $16,513.50 $21,787.70
Interest after 5 years (assuming $5000 down and 5.5% interest rate) $5,039.41 $4,257.93
Price of Gas $3.00
Average Price of Electricity for Car $0.10
Average Miles Per Year 13,500 13,500
Maintenance Costs Per Mile $0.00 $0.00
Maintenance Costs Per Year $0.00 $0.00
Miles/kWh or MPG 4 26
Average Gallons of Gas Per Year (Miles/MPG) 519.23
Average kWh of Electricity Per Year for Car (Miles/4) 3,375
Average Cost of Fuel Per Year $337.50 $1,557.69
5 Year Cost $23,240 $33,834

This is a shocker! Even for me. After 5 years of ownership, you’d save more than $10,000 under this scenario if buying the Model 3 SR+ instead of the Camry XLE V6.

In any way that they’re notably different, the Model 3 is significantly better, yet it is also $10,000 cheaper after 5 years! And this is with the US average of approximately 13,500 miles a year.

This is the most expensive Camry, so the situation will get a bit better for cash-conscious Camry buyers. But don’t hold out too much hope for the iconic Japanese model.

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3 SR+ vs. Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid

Model Tesla Model 3 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid
Purchase Price $39,500 $32,825
5 Year Resale Value (via KBB) $19,236.50 $11,882.65
Cash Cost after Resale $20,263.50 $20,942.35
Incentives -$3,750 $0
Cash Cost after Incentives & Resale Deduction $16,513.50 $20,942.35
Interest after 5 years (assuming $5000 down and 5.5% interest rate) $5,039.41 $4,065.85
Price of Gas $3.00
Average Price of Electricity for Car $0.10
Average Miles Per Year 13,500 13,500
Maintenance Costs Per Mile $0.00 $0.00
Maintenance Costs Per Year $0.00 $0.00
Miles/kWh or MPG 4 46
Average Gallons of Gas Per Year (Miles/MPG) 293.48
Average kWh of Electricity Per Year for Car (Miles/4) 3,375
Average Cost of Fuel Per Year $337.50 $880.43
5 Year Cost $23,240 $29,410

The Camry XLE Hybrid, due to its much better fuel economy compared to the non-hybrid Camry options, does a bit better. (Don’t ask about acceleration.) The difference between the Camry and the Model 3 is a bit more than $6,000 in this scenario.

Of course, you could almost catch the higher price of the Camry if you paid $5,000 for Full Self Driving (FSD) — but, then again, you can’t get a Camry with FSD hardware + software.

Which would you choose?

Tesla Model 3 Supercharging at Thousand Oaks, CA

Tesla Model 3 SR+ vs. Toyota Camry XLE

Model Tesla Model 3 Toyota Camry XLE
Purchase Price $39,500 $29,025
5 Year Resale Value (via KBB) $19,236.50 $10,507.05
Cash Cost after Resale $20,263.50 $18,517.95
Incentives -$3,750 $0
Cash Cost after Incentives & Resale Deduction $16,513.50 $18,517.95
Interest after 5 years (assuming $5000 down and 5.5% interest rate) $5,039.41 $3,509.33
Price of Gas $3.00
Average Price of Electricity for Car $0.10
Average Miles Per Year 13,500 13,500
Maintenance Costs Per Mile $0.00 $0.00
Maintenance Costs Per Year $0.00 $0.00
Miles/kWh or MPG 4 32
Average Gallons of Gas Per Year (Miles/MPG) 421.88
Average kWh of Electricity Per Year for Car (Miles/4.24) 3,375
Average Cost of Fuel Per Year $337.50 $1,265.63
5 Year Cost $23,240 $28,355

Dropping a few thousand off the purchase price while dropping the fuel savings from the hybrid powertrain doesn’t do the Camry any favors. The Camry XLE is still more than $5,000 above the Model 3 SR+.

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3 SR+ vs. Toyota Camry SE Hybrid

Cars Tesla Model 3 Toyota Camry SE Hybrid
Purchase Price $39,500 $29,950
5 Year Resale Value (via KBB) $19,236.50 $10,841.90
Cash Cost after Resale $20,263.50 $19,108.10
Incentives -$3,750 $0
Cash Cost after Incentives & Resale Deduction $16,513.50 $19,108.10
Interest after 5 years (assuming $5000 down and 5.5% interest rate) $5,039.41 $3,644.44
Price of Gas $3.00
Average Price of Electricity for Car $0.10
Average Miles Per Year 13,500 13,500
Maintenance Costs Per Mile $0.00 $0.00
Maintenance Costs Per Year $0.00 $0.00
Miles/kWh or MPG 4 46
Average Gallons of Gas Per Year (Miles/MPG) 293.48
Average kWh of Electricity Per Year for Car (Miles/4.24) 3,375
Average Cost of Fuel Per Year $337.50 $880.43
5 Year Cost $23,240 $27,155

Comparing the Model 3 SR+ to another Camry hybrid inches the Toyota a bit closer to the Tesla, but the difference is still nearly $4,000 wide.

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3 SR+ vs. Toyota Camry L

Model Tesla Model 3 Toyota Camry L
Purchase Price $39,500 $23,945
5 Year Resale Value (via KBB) $19,236.50 $8,668.09
Cash Cost after Resale $20,263.50 $15,276.91
Incentives -$3,750 $0
Cash Cost after Incentives & Resale Deduction $16,513.50 $15,276.91
Interest after 5 years (assuming $5000 down and 5.5% interest rate) $5,039.41 $2,767.29
Price of Gas $3.00
Average Price of Electricity for Car $0.10
Average Miles Per Year 13,500 13,500
Maintenance Costs Per Mile $0.00 $0.00
Maintenance Costs Per Year $0.00 $0.00
Miles/kWh or MPG 4 34
Average Gallons of Gas Per Year (Miles/MPG) 397.06
Average kWh of Electricity Per Year for Car (Miles/4.24) 3,375
Average Cost of Fuel Per Year $337.50 $1,191.18
5 Year Cost $23,240 $24,000

This is where the Camry comes closest to the Model 3 (without dropping the number of miles driven per year or changing some other assumption to help the Camry). This is indeed the lowest cost base version of the Camry. (Of course, we should be comparing it to the $35,000 Model 3, not the $39,500 Model 3 Standard Range Plus, but whatev.)

Even despite being a massively better car in terms of performance, safety, handling, and tech, the Model 3 SR+ inched out the Camry L in terms of 5 year ownership cost — by $760.

Tesla Model 3 charging

17,000 Miles/Year

Raising the average miles driven per year is only going to help Tesla. One of the Model 3’s big cost advantages comes from its much greater efficiency and thus lower cost of “fuel.”

As you could see above, even using approximately the US average, the Model 3 essentially crushed all of the Camry options. Growing the gap between them is going to embarrass them. So, I’m not adding extra commentary in this section (for the most part).

Tesla Model 3 SR+ vs. Toyota Camry XLE V6

Model Tesla Model 3 Toyota Camry XLE V6
Purchase Price $39,500 $34,150
5 Year Resale Value (via KBB) $19,236.50 $12,362.30
Cash Cost after Resale $20,263.50 $21,787.70
Incentives -$3,750 $0
Cash Cost after Incentives & Resale Deduction $16,513.50 $21,787.70
Interest after 5 years (assuming $5000 down and 5.5% interest rate) $5,039.41 $4,257.93
Price of Gas $3.00
Average Price of Electricity for Car $0.10
Average Miles Per Year 17,000 17,000
Maintenance Costs Per Mile $0 $0
Maintenance Costs Per Year $0 $0
Miles/kWh or MPG 4 26
Average Gallons of Gas Per Year (Miles/MPG) 653.85
Average kWh of Electricity Per Year for Car (Miles/4) 4,250
Average Cost of Fuel Per Year $425.00 $1,961.54
5 Year Cost $23,678 $35,853

More than $12,000 better!

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3 SR+ vs. Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid

Model Tesla Model 3 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid
Purchase Price $39,500 $32,825
5 Year Resale Value (via KBB) $19,236.50 $11,882.65
Cash Cost after Resale $20,263.50 $20,942.35
Incentives -$3,750 $0
Cash Cost after Incentives & Resale Deduction $16,513.50 $20,942.35
Interest after 5 years (assuming $5000 down and 5.5% interest rate) $5,039.41 $4,065.85
Price of Gas $3.00
Average Price of Electricity for Car $0.10
Average Miles Per Year 17,000 17,000
Maintenance Costs Per Mile $0 $0
Maintenance Costs Per Year $0 $0
Miles/kWh or MPG 4 46
Average Gallons of Gas Per Year (Miles/MPG) 369.57
Average kWh of Electricity Per Year for Car (Miles/4) 4,250
Average Cost of Fuel Per Year $425.00 $1,108.70
5 Year Cost $23,678 $30,552

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3 SR+ vs. Toyota Camry XLE

Model Tesla Model 3 Toyota Camry XLE
Purchase Price $39,500 $29,025
5 Year Resale Value (via KBB) $19,236.50 $10,507.05
Cash Cost after Resale $20,263.50 $18,517.95
Incentives -$3,750 $0
Cash Cost after Incentives & Resale Deduction $16,513.50 $18,517.95
Interest after 5 years (assuming $5000 down and 5.5% interest rate) $5,039.41 $3,509.33
Price of Gas $3.00
Average Price of Electricity for Car $0.10
Average Miles Per Year 17,000 17,000
Maintenance Costs Per Mile $0 $0
Maintenance Costs Per Year $0 $0
Miles/kWh or MPG 4 32
Average Gallons of Gas Per Year (Miles/MPG) 531.25
Average kWh of Electricity Per Year for Car (Miles/4.24) 4,250
Average Cost of Fuel Per Year $425.00 $1,593.75
5 Year Cost $23,678 $29,996

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3 SR+ vs. Toyota Camry SE Hybrid

Model Tesla Model 3 Toyota Camry SE Hybrid
Purchase Price $39,500 $29,950
5 Year Resale Value (via KBB) $19,236.50 $10,841.90
Cash Cost after Resale $20,263.50 $19,108.10
Incentives -$3,750 $0
Cash Cost after Incentives & Resale Deduction $16,513.50 $19,108.10
Interest after 5 years (assuming $5000 down and 5.5% interest rate) $5,039.41 $3,644.44
Price of Gas $3.00
Average Price of Electricity for Car $0.10
Average Miles Per Year 17,000 17,000
Maintenance Costs Per Mile $0 $0
Maintenance Costs Per Year $0 $0
Miles/kWh or MPG 4 46
Average Gallons of Gas Per Year (Miles/MPG) 369.57
Average kWh of Electricity Per Year for Car (Miles/4.24) 4,250
Average Cost of Fuel Per Year $425.00 $1,108.70
5 Year Cost $23,678 $28,296

Tesla Model 3 Connecticut

Tesla Model 3 SR+ vs. Toyota Camry L

Model Tesla Model 3 Toyota Camry L
Purchase Price $39,500 $23,945
5 Year Resale Value (via KBB) $19,236.50 $8,668.09
Cash Cost after Resale $20,263.50 $15,276.91
Incentives -$3,750 $0
Cash Cost after Incentives & Resale Deduction $16,513.50 $15,276.91
Interest after 5 years (assuming $5000 down and 5.5% interest rate) $5,039.41 $2,767.29
Price of Gas $3.00
Average Price of Electricity for Car $0.10
Average Miles Per Year 17,000 17,000
Maintenance Costs Per Mile $0 $0
Maintenance Costs Per Year $0 $0
Miles/kWh or MPG 4 34
Average Gallons of Gas Per Year (Miles/MPG) 500.00
Average kWh of Electricity Per Year for Car (Miles/4.24) 4,250
Average Cost of Fuel Per Year $425.00 $1,500.00
5 Year Cost $23,678 $25,544

Tesla Model 3 California

10,000 Miles/Year

This is where the Camry is going to get its shot. We’re going below US drivers’ average annual miles driven, cutting some of the cost advantage the Model 3 had above. Let’s see how the Camry does here.

Tesla Model 3 SR+ vs. Toyota Camry XLE V6

Model Tesla Model 3 Toyota Camry XLE V6
Purchase Price $39,500 $34,150
5 Year Resale Value (via KBB) $19,236.50 $12,362.30
Cash Cost after Resale $20,263.50 $21,787.70
Incentives -$3,750 $0
Cash Cost after Incentives & Resale Deduction $16,513.50 $21,787.70
Interest after 5 years (assuming $5000 down and 5.5% interest rate) $5,039.41 $4,257.93
Price of Gas $3.00
Average Price of Electricity for Car $0.10
Average Miles Per Year 10,000 10,000
Maintenance Costs Per Mile $0 $0
Maintenance Costs Per Year $0 $0
Miles/kWh or MPG 4 26
Average Gallons of Gas Per Year (Miles/MPG) 384.62
Average kWh of Electricity Per Year for Car (Miles/4) 2,500
Average Cost of Fuel Per Year $250.00 $1,153.85
5 Year Cost $22,803 $31,815

The Model 3 SR+ is still a whopping $9,000 cheaper in this scenario, leaving — well, leaving no apparent reason to buy a Camry XLE V6.

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3 SR+ vs. Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid

Model Tesla Model 3 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid
Purchase Price $39,500 $32,825
5 Year Resale Value (via KBB) $19,236.50 $11,882.65
Cash Cost after Resale $20,263.50 $20,942.35
Incentives -$3,750 $0
Cash Cost after Incentives & Resale Deduction $16,513.50 $20,942.35
Interest after 5 years (assuming $5000 down and 5.5% interest rate) $5,039.41 $4,065.85
Price of Gas $3.00
Average Price of Electricity for Car $0.10
Average Miles Per Year 10,000 10,000
Maintenance Costs Per Mile $0 $0
Maintenance Costs Per Year $0 $0
Miles/kWh or MPG 4 46
Average Gallons of Gas Per Year (Miles/MPG) 217.39
Average kWh of Electricity Per Year for Car (Miles/4) 2,500
Average Cost of Fuel Per Year $250.00 $652.17
5 Year Cost $22,803 $28,269

Choosing the hybrid instead of the V6 doesn’t help much. The difference is still approximately $5,500. Again, the reason for buying a Camry instead is …

well …

confusing.

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3 SR+ vs. Toyota Camry XLE

Model Tesla Model 3 Toyota Camry XLE
Purchase Price $39,500 $29,025
5 Year Resale Value (via KBB) $19,236.50 $10,507.05
Cash Cost after Resale $20,263.50 $18,517.95
Incentives -$3,750 $0
Cash Cost after Incentives & Resale Deduction $16,513.50 $18,517.95
Interest after 5 years (assuming $5000 down and 5.5% interest rate) $5,039.41 $3,509.33
Price of Gas $3.00
Average Price of Electricity for Car $0.10
Average Miles Per Year 10,000 10,000
Maintenance Costs Per Mile $0 $0
Maintenance Costs Per Year $0 $0
Miles/kWh or MPG 4 32
Average Gallons of Gas Per Year (Miles/MPG) 312.50
Average kWh of Electricity Per Year for Car (Miles/4.24) 2,500
Average Cost of Fuel Per Year $250.00 $937.50
5 Year Cost $22,803 $26,715

Choosing the XLE instead of the XLE Hybrid doesn’t change much on the cost front here. The Model 3 SR+ is still approximately $4,000 more attractive than the Camry.

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3 SR+ vs. Toyota Camry SE Hybrid

Model Tesla Model 3 Toyota Camry SE Hybrid
Purchase Price $39,500 $29,950
5 Year Resale Value (via KBB) $19,236.50 $10,841.90
Cash Cost after Resale $20,263.50 $19,108.10
Incentives -$3,750 $0
Cash Cost after Incentives & Resale Deduction $16,513.50 $19,108.10
Interest after 5 years (assuming $5000 down and 5.5% interest rate) $5,039.41 $3,644.44
Price of Gas $3.00
Average Price of Electricity for Car $0.10
Average Miles Per Year 10,000 10,000
Maintenance Costs Per Mile $0 $0
Maintenance Costs Per Year $0 $0
Miles/kWh or MPG 4 46
Average Gallons of Gas Per Year (Miles/MPG) 217.39
Average kWh of Electricity Per Year for Car (Miles/4.24) 2,500
Average Cost of Fuel Per Year $250.00 $652.17
5 Year Cost $22,803 $26,013

With the Camry SE Hybrid, the Toyota inches closer. But, again, the Model 3 is, like, 3–4× better — and still cheaper. So, even in this 10,000-mile-year scenario, you have to be a little lost to choose a Camry instead.

Tesla Model 3 Supercharging in Oxnard, CA

Tesla Model 3 SR+ vs. Toyota Camry L

Model Tesla Model 3 Toyota Camry L
Purchase Price $39,500 $23,945
5 Year Resale Value (via KBB) $19,236.50 $8,668.09
Cash Cost after Resale $20,263.50 $15,276.91
Incentives -$3,750 $0
Cash Cost after Incentives & Resale Deduction $16,513.50 $15,276.91
Interest after 5 years (assuming $5000 down and 5.5% interest rate) $5,039.41 $2,767.29
Price of Gas $3.00
Average Price of Electricity for Car $0.10
Average Miles Per Year 10,000 10,000
Maintenance Costs Per Mile $0 $0
Maintenance Costs Per Year $0 $0
Miles/kWh or MPG 4 34
Average Gallons of Gas Per Year (Miles/MPG) 294.12
Average kWh of Electricity Per Year for Car (Miles/4.24) 2,500
Average Cost of Fuel Per Year $250.00 $882.35
5 Year Cost $22,803 $22,456

The Camry finally wins! Though, like I said above, we should really be comparing the base Model 3 to the base Camry (if not all of these significantly lower quality Camry trims), and the Model 3 SR+ is tremendously better on value for the money — so, one more winning pic for the Model 3!

Interested in buying a Tesla Model 3, Model S, or Model X? Need a referral code to get 1,000 miles of free Supercharging? Use ours: http://ts.la/tomasz7234 (or not).

Tesla Model 3 Supercharging Oxnard, CA 
 
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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor. He's also the CEO of Important Media. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA] — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in this company and feels like it is a good cleantech company to invest in. But he offers no investment advice and does not recommend investing in Tesla or any other company.



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