Life with Tesla Model S: the challenges of selling her at last Page 2


2013 Tesla Model S, in July 2017 [photo: David Noland]

2013 Tesla Model S, in July 2017 [photo: David Noland]

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Virtually overnight, roughly  a dozen high-mileage CPO 85s appeared on Tesla’s website at less than $40,000—and they all included an extended service agreement that would be good through 100,000 total miles (my $2,000 add-on).

The one I remember most clearly was a 2013 Model S 85, roughly comparable to mine, with about the same mileage—for a price of only $33,000.

Holy crap. I was totally screwed.

Most of those sub-$40K cars were gone within hours. A few lasted into the next day. Oddly, almost no cars appeared to replace them at prices under $40,000.

Was this a just one-day fire sale, designed to get our attention? Or a real long-term adjustment to the used-Model S marketplace?

At the time, I had no way of knowing.

Solar panels at Supercharger in Barstow, CA, during Tesla Model S road trip [photo: David Noland]

Solar panels at Supercharger in Barstow, CA, during Tesla Model S road trip [photo: David Noland]

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I concluded that I had to slash my price. I reduced it to $39,000, including the ESA—in effect, a $4,000 reduction.

Still no serious inquiries.

Vroom

Then Adam from OnlyUsedTesla called, saying he’d gotten some interest from a wholesaler who might offer me something in the $34,000 range.

This was barely more than the net value to me of Tesla's own trade-in offer ($28K trade-in, plus $2K sales tax savings, plus $2K ESA refund).

2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan on delivery day, with Lisa Noland sitting in the front trunk

2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan on delivery day, with Lisa Noland sitting in the front trunk

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The “wholesaler” turned out to be an Internet car-buying service called Vroom. I sent them my specs and some photos, and they came back with an offer of $33,250.

The small premium over the net trade-in value hardly seemed worth the effort. But after talking further with the Vroom guy, I had learned two things.

First, their offer did not include the ESA, so I could still get my $2K refund. OK, that was good.

Second, Vroom had an arrangement with Tesla that any official valuation from Vroom, including the one I had just received, would be honored by Tesla  as a trade-in. (Vroom would presumably then buy the car from Tesla at the stated value.)

Whoa! That seemed too good to be true. A $33,250 trade-in value had a total value to me of over $37,000, including the reduction in sales taxes.

Suspicious, I called the Tesla guy who’d been handling my 100D purchase, who’d given me the initial $28K trade-in offer.  He confirmed that, yes, Tesla indeed had such a deal with Vroom.

That was a no-brainer. With no other serious inquiries, I decided to take the Vroom offer as a trade-in to Tesla. All I had to do was take my official Vroom voucher to Tesla when I picked up the new car.  

Not so fast….

But the next day, I got a call from the Tesla sales guy.  “I’ve got bad news and good news,” he said.  Uh-oh.

2011 Chevrolet Volt and 2013 Tesla Model S [photo: David Noland]

2011 Chevrolet Volt and 2013 Tesla Model S [photo: David Noland]

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“The bad news is that our arrangement with Vroom only applies to non-Tesla trade-ins.”  Oh, no!

“The good news is that, even though what I told you yesterday was wrong, we have decided to honor the Vroom valuation anyway," he continued. "The $33,250 trade-in offer is still good.”  Oh, YES!

And so I drove Old 3662—freshly polished and vacuumed, looking better than she’d looked in years—down to Tesla’s delivery center in Mount Kisco, New York.

I drove away in my brand-new, Midnight Silver 2017 Tesla Model S 100D.

As I write this a couple of weeks later,  the cheapest CPO Model S 85 listed on the Tesla website—roughly comparable to mine, with 65,371 miles—is priced at $45,000.

Last month’s fire sale was apparently just that—a one-time shot across the bow of the used-Tesla marketplace. Prices seem to be returning to roughly what they had been before Tesla slashed its prices.

2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan [photo by owner David Noland]

2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan [photo by owner David Noland]

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Could my timing have been any worse? It's hard to imagine how.

But never mind. Every day I check the Tesla “used inventory listings,” looking for a green 2013 with air suspension, heated leather seats, and 76,000 miles.

I wonder what they’ll be asking for her?

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