How plummeting oil prices are puncturing Tesla's savings claim on EVs
The approximate savings Tesla Inc. tells U.S. consumers they can expect from no longer having to go to the pump isn’t keeping up with reality.
The electric-car maker has, for example, estimated $4,300 in gas savings for buyers of the Model 3 sedan since at least late 2018. That number has remained static even as pump prices have fluctuated and, more recently, fallen precipitously. The national average for regular unleaded dropped Monday to $1.81 a gallon, the lowest since March 2016, according to AAA.
Two U.S. cities are even averaging under $1 a gallon, a first in the 20-year history of GasBuddy, which bills itself as the most popular travel and navigation app in North America.
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“Truly unprecedented demand destruction has been dismantling expensive gas prices everywhere," Patrick DeHaan, GasBuddy’s head of petroleum analysis, said in a statement. “With oil again at new multi-decade lows, we still have room for prices to fall nearly countrywide."
To arrive at the $4,300 gas-savings figure for the Model 3, Tesla bases its estimate on drivers paying $2.85 a gallon and putting 10,000 miles on their car annually for six years.
The company’s estimated fuel-savings figures have stirred controversy before. The company agreed to change the way it markets the Model 3 in Germany last year by getting rid of claims that the nation’s fair-competition watchdog said were misleading.