When most people think about buying a Tesla or switching from gas to electric car, they wonder: 

  1. What’s the price difference between a gas car versus and electric car? 
  2. How long does it take to charge an electric car? 
  3. How inconvenient is it to have an electric car versus a gas car? 

Today I’m going to be answering these questions.  My wife and I drove separately from Southern California to Northern California. I drove the Lexus RX (gas car) and she drove the Tesla Model Y. We left at exactly the same time, drove the same speed, and had the same starting point and ending point. 

gas versus electric car

About the Cars

To provide a better understanding of what we’re working with, here’s a background of the cars. 

2016 Lexus RX 350 

  • 302 miles on full tank 
  • 20mpg in city, 27 mpg on highway 

2021 Tesla Model Y Long Range

  • 303 miles at 100%

Difference between Gas and Electric Cars

With gas cars, you fill your car to full tank to minimize the number of times you have to stop on a road trip. 

However, with electric cars, you don’t want to charge up to 100%. The reason is that the charging speed is faster when the state of charge is lower. For example, at 10% state of charge, you can get 250kw.  However, when you’re at 80%, the speed drops significantly to ~80kw and charges slower. So it may take only 15 minutes to charge from 20-70%, but then take 45 minutes to charge from 70-100%. 

Therefore, it is advantageous to not charge to 100%, as you’ll be waiting forever. This then results in more frequent stops. 

tesla lower state of charge
Lower State of Charge = Faster Charging

Tesla on a Norcal/Socal Road Trip

  • Departure time from Orange County, CA: 4:00AM
  • Stop #1: Buttonwillow, CA
    • Time to Charge: 22 minutes
      • Used bathroom & dog potty while car was charging
    • Cost to Charge (.42kwh): $17.22 
  • Stop #2: Coalinga, CA
    • Time to Charge: 27 minutes
    • Cost to Charge (.43kwh): $19.78
  • Arrival Time to San Jose: 10:20AM

Total Time: 6 hrs 20 minutes

Time Charging: 49 minutes

Total Cost: $37.00 

coalinga tesla supercharger
Tesla Supercharger - Coalinga

Gas Car on a Norcal/Socal Road Trip

  • Departure time: 4:00AM 
  • Stop #1: Buttonwillow, CA
    • Time to Fill Gas: 3 minutes
    • Time for Bathroom & Dog potty:  7 minutes
    • Total Rest Stop time: 10 minutes 
    • Cost: $45.71
  • Arrival time: 10:20AM (this is because I stopped with my wife who was driving the Tesla. However if I didn’t stop with her, I would have arrived at 9:38AM)

Total Time: 5 hrs 38 minutes 

Total Time at Rest Stop: 10 minutes

Total Cost: $45.71

Overall Thoughts

Overall, driving a Tesla on a Norcal/Socal road trip compared to a gas car is cheaper by $8, but also takes longer (40 minutes).  However, it is more expensive to charge at Tesla Superchargers compared to charging at home (typically charging at home is 1/2 the price, depending on your electricity plan). So the cost is even cheaper with an electric car. Also the beauty of charging at home is that you wake up, and have a full charge without having to stop at a gas station. 

However, if you’re the type of person who wants to get to your destination ASAP on a road trip, then maybe take a gas car so you won’t have to wait for your car to charge. 

If you’re going on a Tesla Road Trip soon, check out my “Tesla Roadtrip Packing List!” It is also available on my Etsy shop


The opinions and views expressed on this blog are solely personal, Everyday Chris.  Everyday Chris is not affiliated with or endorsed by Tesla. It is neither inferred nor implied that products recommended by Everyday Chris nor recommendations given by Everyday Chris are authorized by or in any way connected to Tesla. This post contains affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Please read full Terms & Conditions for more information. 

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