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As recently as 2018, Tesla’s flagship Model S was hailed as the fastest selling pre-owned electric car in the Unites States and the second fastest selling used car overall, including ICE vehicles. In a remarkable change of consumer preference, a recent study now places it dead last.

That’s right, a used Model S takes an average of 88.3 days to sell compared to a national average of 49.2 for all secondhand vehicles and 34.4 days for the fastest seller, the Honda HR-V. Even the Model S’s sibling, the Model Y crossover, only lasts 47.6 days on the used market which is good enough to make it the fastest-selling used EV.

Price point is a huge factor for used Tesla Model S sales

So what’s the reasoning behind the Model S collecting dust on used car lots? It’s still a handsome looking car and performance has been steadily ratcheted up over the years, but there’s no debating that the design is getting old.

How old? The Model S was developed when George Bush was still in the White House. That was followed by a prototype in 2009 and the eventual production version emerging in 2012.

According to iSeeCars Executive Analyst Karl Brauer, “Many of the slowest-selling vehicles, including both Teslas, are older models in need of a redesign.” That comment references Tesla’s Model X as well, which is also fairly slow selling on the preowned market.

Besides being arguably a little stale, a high price is likely the biggest hurdle to ownership. Once again referring to iSeeCars, the average price of a secondhand Model S is a whopping $65,216, which is well over double the national average used car price of $26,651.

Even when the data is restricted to used cars less than five years old, the average price is only $33,240. The Model S’ $65,216 average isn’t the most expensive among the 20 best or 20 slowest selling used cars, but it’s definitely in the top five. 

Tesla is slashing new car prices

At the same time, secondhand Model S sales may be getting cannibalized by Tesla’s aggressive price cuts on new cars. EV buyers can purchase a brand new base-level Tesla Model 3 for $38,999 or Model Y starting at $43,999. And that’s before factoring in a $7,500 federal tax credit that’s still available.

For those who prefer to lease instead of buy, Tesla just announced two new lease deals. Leasing a new Model 3 is now just $329 per month, while a Model Y leases for $399 per month, though both leases require a $4,500 downpayment.

Yes, we realize that comparing the brand’s halo product to two of its entry-level offerings isn’t a completely fair matchup, but to some buyers, the cache of the Tesla name might be haughty enough, regardless of what it’s attached to.

Not to mention that the new cars still have 100% of Tesla’s generous 4-year or 50,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty intact. However, used Model S buyers will likely still have some protection remaining in the form of that vehicle’s 8 years of 150,000-mile Battery and Drive Unit Limited Warranty.


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