It was time to let her go.
She is my 2013 Tesla Model S, serial number 003662, in dark green, now with 76,000 memorable miles. The best car I’ve ever owned, by far.
She had taken me to 33 states and roughly 100 Superchargers, through deserts, mountains, and tropics, with total reliability, and always with style and flair.
Not once in four-plus years did I look out my windshield and say to myself, “I’d rather be driving that car instead of this one."
Until the Tesla Model S 100D was introduced, that is: all-wheel drive, 335 miles of range, and the sensor hardware for eventual fully autonomous driving.
When I pulled the trigger and ordered my new 100D back in May, my hope was to simply trade in the old car. Clean, simple, keep her in the Tesla family. (And I'd save a bit on sales tax too.)
Lowball trade-in offer
But I was disappointed at what I considered an almost insultingly low trade-in offer from Tesla: just $28,000. This despite the car being in excellent condition inside and out, including a brand-new drive unit (motor, inverter and gearbox) that seemed to perform better than new.
Kelley Blue Book put the private-sale value at $40,000 to $42,000. Sure, selling it privately would be a hassle, but for a difference of $12,000 to $14,000, I could put up with a bit of hassle.
As a first step, I decided to post the car on Tesla Motor Club (TMC), the online forum for Tesla owners and fans. That too would keep it in the family, so to speak.
GO WAY BACK: My 2013 Tesla Model S Electric Sport Sedan: Delivery at Last! (Feb 2013)
With 76,000 miles, air suspension, heated leather seats, and the new drive unit, I set an initial asking price of $42,000.
If a buyer wanted the last two years and 24,000 miles of my extended service agreement, that would be an extra $2,000. (If not, I would get a $2,000 refund from Tesla for the unused portion of the agreement.)
Certified Previously Owned Tesla Model S 85s were then starting in the high $40Ks to low $50Ks. At the time, CPO cars were limited to 60,000 or fewer miles, so my car carried a penalty of a few thousand more miles.
2013 Tesla Model S owned by David Noland, Catskill Mountains, NY, Oct 2015Enlarge Photo
But mine was also priced $5,000 to $10,000 less than otherwise comparable CPO cars.
The day after I listed on TMC, I got a call from a fellow named Adam Qureshi, who offered me a free listing on his new website, OnlyUsedTesla.com.
I accepted, sent him photos and a detailed description, and watched my car appear on his site the next day. Same price: $42K, plus optional ESA.
With these two Tesla-focused listings, I figured I was in good shape.
I was wrong. In the first few days, the TMC listing got several hundred views, but no serious inquiries. And the other listing didn’t turn up anything, either.
I soon found out why.
On virtually the same day I listed my car, Tesla had knocked the bottom right out of the used Model S marketplace.
In an apparent attempt to “downsell” Model 3 customers to a used Model S, Tesla suddenly expanded its CPO program to encompass high-mileage cars like mine.
And the prices were shockingly low.