Better Off Buying A New Tesla Than Used?

Used Teslas hold their value. It’s the way of the world. You can pick up used Nissan Leafs and electric Ford Focus for under ten-grand. But a used Tesla? Depending on which model you’re looking at around $40,000 give or take ten-grand. Yeah, the spread is that big. So, used Teslas go for so much that you might be better off buying new rather than used.

There are few Teslas showing up on the used car market

Tesla model 3 cars charging in a parking garage
Teslas charging in a parking garage | Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

The first thing you’ll find is that few used Teslas show up on the market. And you know that old saying, “Supply and demand dictate price.” If there are few used Teslas then the value is high. You can find used 2017 and 2018 Model 3s priced at the higher end of $40,000. How much is the new Model 3s? The list was $39.480 with the $1,875 tax credit. That expired at the end of 2019. 

But it doesn’t matter. The point is that used one- and two-year-old Tesla Model 3s are going for virtually what you can buy a new one for. How does a used Model 3 with many thousands of miles on the ticker go for $10,000 more than a spanking brand new Model 3?

It’s even weirder looking at new and used Model S Teslas

Test Driving the Tesla Model S P90D
The Tesla Model S P90D | Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Things get even weirder when you look at the larger, longer in production Model S. A 2016 Model S P100D would be around $85,000. But a brand new Model S with more range goes for less. What gives?

How about looking at the Model X. It’s the SUV-ish thing with the gull-wing doors. A new Model X retails for $85,000. Kelley Bluebook shows that a 2018 with less range going for $78,000. Yes, that’s a $7,000 difference but you get a brand new Model X and more range for that extra cha-cha.

Older Teslas become more attractive, but with less range and more wear

A blue Tesla Model 3 is a displayed at a car event
| Sjoerd van der Wal/Getty Images

Once you get down into the older Teslas that give you less range you’ll find more friendly prices relative to new ones. If a more limited mile range is good for you then a 2014 Model S 60D goes for the low-$50,000. New it sold for $71,000. So there’s a $20,000 difference. But how many miles does the used one have on the ticker? And will you need something that can get you 300 miles between charges?

Now, would you believe that color matters too? There is a premium placed on certain colors like brown according to Forbes. Yes, brown. It says that a discount of 10% or more off of book value was found to be easier to come by for any color other than brown. So, for some reason, the appeal for brown to Tesla buyers combined with the amount painted brown has resulted in this weird Twilight Zone. Who knew?

With a used Tesla whatever mileage it has is subtracted from the 4 year/50,000 mile warranty. Less range is a probability, and then there’s the wear and tear you might find on a well-used example. Finally, there’s the fact you’re stuck with whatever colors and combos are being offered. With a new Tesla, those choices are yours.

There’s a cherry-on-top when you buy a new Tesla

Tesla Charger
Tesla Charger | Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Now, just to put the cherry on top there’s something else a used Tesla can’t provide. When you buy a new Tesla you get unlimited charging for free at Tesla’s Supercharger stations. So, it seems that a new Tesla is a much better choice than used. 

Check out what’s available. Compare. Then slide on over to a Tesla store and start dealing.