Total Cost of Ownership: Tesla Model 3 vs Toyota Camry Hybrid

For shits and giggles, I wanted to see how a Tesla Model 3 compares to a Toyota Camry Hybrid. I’ve read a few “reports” from the USA saying the Model 3 is cheaper to own than a Camry, but doubt it is true in Australia considering how much the Model 3 costs here and the fact there’s no incentives like in parts of the USA.

Drive Away Price in VIC 3340
$47,221 - Toyota Camry SL Hybrid
$79,556 - Tesla Model 3 SR+

You may even be able to haggle down Toyota a few grand on a new top of the line Camry, or buy a demo model for significantly less. Can’t do that with a Tesla, even 2nd hand Model 3s are rare.

Camry Fuel

  • 4.5L/100km official, 5.7L/100km in reviews, let’s pick 5L/100km as a real world estimate
  • 30,000km/yr for 5 years = 150,000km
  • $1.35/L average fuel price (95 octane)
  • 7,500L of fuel used
  • $10,125 spent on fuel

I plucked $1.35/L out as a rough estimate as that’s what it has been hovering around lately. Historically it’s usually not that cheap but COVID’s changed things. I imagine that in 3-4 years time the price of fuel will be back to ~$1.50/L. Note that the Hybrid Camry needs pricier 95 octane fuel.

Tesla Electricity

  • Green Vehicle Guide says 188Wh/km, USA EPA reckon 150Wh/km, my real world experience is 160Wh/km
  • 30,000km/yr for 5 years = 150,000km
  • 18c/kWh average electricity price
  • 24,000kWh of electricity used
  • $4,320 spent on electricity

I’ve assumed here 100% charging from the grid, at off-peak rates that hover around 14c-18c/kWh with Amber Electric. This is the most common charging scenario for me with despite having solar panels at home. Some freaks manage 100% solar charging (do they not drive their car during the day?!) or use lots of public charging (no charger/off-street parking at home), so it’s hard to account for everyone’s patterns here.

Camry Servicing

  • First 5 services up to & including 75,000km - $200ea ($1000)
  • 90,000km - $680
  • 105,000km - $220
  • 120,000km - $530
  • 135,000km - $265
  • 150,000km - $537
  • Total: $3,332

Fixed priced servicing from Toyota for the first five services, then the rest I pulled from AutoGuru as Toyota’s website wouldn’t give me pricing for the hybrid version of the Camry.

Tesla Servicing

  • Cabin air filter every 2 years - $108

There is no service schedule for the Model 3. The owners manual says to change the cabin air filter every 2 years. All the other maintenance items (brake fluid every 2 years, rotate tyres, etc) are stuff not done in a traditional scheduled service with Toyota anyways, so the costs there are the same.

Comprehensive Insurance

  • $915/yr - Toyota Camry SL Hybrid
  • $1,213/yr - Tesla Model 3 SR+

Insurance pricing varies wildly, but to keep it simple I compared the same RACV policies between the two cars. I could probably get cheaper insurance for the Camry elsewhere but I can’t get cheaper insurance for the Tesla (trust me, I tried).

Registration

  • $616 - Toyota Camry SL Hybrid
  • $616 - Tesla Model 3 SR+

Hybrids and EVs get the same $100/yr discount on rego in VIC. Unfair if you ask me, but it is what it is.

Finance Costs

  • $5,621 - Toyota Camry SL Hybrid
  • $10,523 - Tesla Model 3 SR+

This is the interest you pay on a loan for one of these cars. I’ve assumed here a 10% deposit and a 5% interest rate over 5 years.

Resale Value in 5 Years Time

  • $18,500 - Toyota Camry SL Hybrid
  • $39,000 - Tesla Model 3 SR+

It’s tough to know what a Model 3 will sell for in 5 years time as the car hasn’t been around for that long. Using the Model S/X to compare is a bit crap as they were $120,000+ cars which depreciate heavily. I’ve estimated 50% here as that’s kinda what happens to other $80k cars, but I think it will hold its value better than that. The Camry is easier to work out thanks to RedBook and CarSales and stuff like that. A 2015 hybrid Camry seems to go for 60% less than its original sales price.

Putting it all together as a 5 year TCO

CAMRY

  • Purchase Price - $47,221
  • Fuel - $10,125
  • Servicing - $3,332
  • Insurance - $4,575
  • Registration - $2,464
  • Loan interest - $5,621
  • Total expenses - $68,763
  • Total spent after resale - $50,263

MODEL 3

  • Purchase Price - $79,556
  • Electricity - $4,320
  • Servicing - $108
  • Insurance - $6,065
  • Registration - $2,464
  • Loan interest - $10,523
  • Total expenses - $103,036
  • Total spent after resale - $64,036

I didn’t think a Model 3 would be cheaper than a Camry in Australia and I was right. That said, I did not expect the price to get that close. Despite the purchase price of the Model 3 being close to 70% more than the Camry, the total cost of ownership over 5 years is only 28% extra.

In the real world, I don’t think there’s many cross-shoppers of a hybrid Camry and the Model 3, just due to the sheer immense up-front cost of a Tesla. So this comparison is kinda useless and I wasted 2 hours on a Sunday morning for nothing beyond satisfying my own curiosity.