It was recently shared that yellow Tesla Model 3 taxis have started rolling out in New York City, a year after they were officially approved for taxi service in the city.
— Sally (@drive_sally) October 30, 2020
My natural inclination, especially after running Tesla shuttle services in Europe, is that the low cost of “fuel” (electricity) and maintenance would pay off in a NYC taxi service and make the much higher quality Model 3 approximately as affordable or more affordable than a competing NYC taxi. But I had never run number for such services in NYC, so I decided to have a go at it.
I selected the Toyota Camry Hybrid and the Ford Fusion Hybrid. Of course, I had to make a variety of assumptions that may or may not be close to reality. I’ll share comments about those after the chart. Throwing everything together and adding a Jamaican accent, this is the forecast I came up with for the cost of these vehicles over 5 years:
The fuel economy estimates were based on official ratings. The gas price I used is in between the current gas price in NYC and the gas price a year ago there. Naturally, it’s just a guesstimate of the average gas price over 5 years. The price of electricity for charging that I went with was the current price of Tesla Supercharging in New York. If you happened to be able to charge via a home or business outlet, your price of electricity could potentially be lower.
I chose the Tesla Model 3 Long Range rather than the Standard Range Plus, but didn’t add any features (like Full Self-Driving). I assumed a $4000 down payment and 3% interest on the cars.
I found the average number of miles a year for a NYC cab was 70,000. Maintenance costs were a tough one to estimate. What I ended up deciding on was 4.7 times the typical 5 year cost of ownership estimate. Another wildcard is resale value after 5 years and that many miles. I ended up choosing 15% value retention for the Model 3 and 5% value retention for the gasoline vehicles.
Feel free to adjust any of these assumptions yourself by copying my Google Sheet and modifying it.
This is just one brief cost-of-ownership analysis for NYC taxi service. Such calculations could and should be done for such services around the world.
Also, one big matter to keep in mind is that there is tremendous driver and passenger value in a Tesla Model 3. There’s a superb infotainment system (quite enjoyable for those moments when you’re sitting in the car for a bit waiting for your next ride). There’s the smooth and fun ride courtesy the electric powertrain. There’s a wicked sound system and a beautiful glass roof. There’s the unparalleled safety rating.
If I was a taxi driver, I’m pretty positive what I’d choose to drive — a Model Y (or Model X if possible). But that’s a story for another day.