Tesla Model 3 teaser image with Model S and Model X, March 2016
Among the hundreds of thousands of potential buyers on the waiting list for the Tesla Model 3, many are waiting for configurations that aren't yet available—all-wheel drive or the more affordable small battery pack. And many of those probably won't be able to wait.
People buy new cars for all kinds of reasons, most pressingly accidents, theft, breakdowns, or family emergencies that may demand a new car urgently. Buyers in those situations may need a car quickly, even before their name or their configuration comes up on Tesla's list. Yet many of those same people have been salivating over parking a Tesla in their driveways for years now.
Those buyers might do well to consider that Tesla also sells a large inventory of used Model Ses, and many of those, after several years of depreciation, are approaching the price of a new Model 3 (at least one with the large battery pack being built now.)
2018 Tesla Model S and 2018 Tesla Model X
At one time, Tesla referred to the cars as "certified pre-owned," as other automakers do for refurbished cars backed by extended factory warranties—the cream of the used-car crop.
Now that many Model Ses have aged to reach six years old, and some have six-figure odometer readings, the company no longer calls them "certified" but it still sells them with factory warranties, the length of which varies with the age and mileage of the car.
In an interview, the company also says it gives every car it sells a 70-point mechanical inspection to ensure that it is fully functional and road worthy.
All used cars that Tesla sells retain their eight-year, unlimited mileage factory warranty, which includes the battery.
Cars less than four years old and with less than 50,000 miles automatically get a new four-year/50,000 mile warranty.
Used Teslas older than four-years old, or with more than 50,000 miles get a new two-year extended warranty with an extension up to 100,000 miles on the car's odometer.
Used 2013 Tesla Model S in inventory April 2018
The company groups used Teslas into regions, and some incur an extra delivery charge depending on where you're based.
We checked out several used Model Ses on Tesla's website, and found several in the Northeast for around $55,000, which is about the going rate for today's new Model 3s with the big battery pack, Autopilot, and a few sundry options.
If you can't wait for your Model 3, a used Model S—or even a family-friendly used Model X SUV—could get you into a new-to-you Tesla quickly. For many of the buyers who are in a hurry, that may be an option worth checking out.