Few companies, much less cars companies, have a following as loyal as Tesla.
The sometimes cult-like devotion of buyers has created a market where they are happy to wait months to spend between $70,000 and $135,000 on a new vehicle and pay staggering amounts for a used one. But for people looking to sell their Teslas, it can sometimes be a complicated affair, as the car’s software-based features may not be transferable, raising the question of how much of the electric vehicle they actually own.
The ability of Tesla vehicles to maintain their value is unprecedented in the used car market, even if you factor in the past few years when prices were off the chart. A Model 3 that is a year or less old has seen its resale value increase by 21.5% in the past year. to ISeeCars.com, which tracks the prices of used cars. The value of a two to three year old Model 3 has increased by 18%. Newer Model Ss have seen their resale value increase by 36.4%, while an eight-year-old Model S has seen a 28.8% resale value in the past year.
While the delta between newer and older Tesla models is surprisingly close, it only gets really interesting when you get to the Model X. Karl Brauer, executive analyst at ISeeCars, says a one-year-old model has seen a 12.8% increase in the past year, but a five-year-old model is up 18.1%, while a four-year-old model was up 21 .3%.
“People want a Model X, and they don’t seem to care how old they are,” he says londonbusinessblog.com. “They don’t mind getting a newer one.”
If you’re a Tesla owner who wants to sell your car, however, the process is not as simple as it is to get rid of your Toyota, for example. For example, in its sales contract, the company has included a clause that reads: “Tesla and its subsidiaries sell cars directly to final consumers, and we may unilaterally cancel any order that we believe has been made for the purpose of resale of the vehicle or otherwise was done in bad faith.”
That doesn’t affect most sellers. But if the company believes you have ordered a new one to resell it immediately for a higher price once you take possession of it, it reserves the right not only cancel the salebut also add you to the “do not sell” list.
Assuming you’re not an EV flipper, that shouldn’t be a problem. However, you still need to take a few more steps than you would to sell a used gas-powered vehicle, such as updating the car’s software.
You will also have to remove property of the vehicle through your Tesla Account. This may include payment of any outstanding Supercharging balance; and if you have Supercharging? credits, they are not transferred with the vehicle. Ditto, some upgrades and a few other features too.
As for the question of whether Fully self-driving (FSD) is one of those portable features, which is currently a gray area. Buying the feature costs $15,000, after a recent price increase of $3,000. And the subscription model runs as high as $199 per month.
If you are using the subscription model, the new owner must get their own subscription. (And you probably won’t get credit for part of the unused month.)
However, if you have opted for the fully paid package, the best way to ensure that it is transferred is through a direct private sale to the new owner. Sales through a dealer may transfer the FSD to the next owner, but some say it’s not guaranteed.
One thing is certain, the FSD you bought for your Tesla will not carry over to the next one, assuming you want to upgrade to a newer model. At that point, you need to buy the software again. And for any Tesla vehicle considered salvage, Supercharging has been disabled and FSD removed for safety reasons.
Tesla has in the past deactivated functions in cars sold through third-party dealers, although the company sent them back after public outcry. And earlier this year, it reportedly forced the buyer of a used 2013 Model S to… pay $4,500 to unlock the full range of the car.
This is the side effect of cars becoming as much a computer as a vehicle, making it a stressful process for both buyer and seller. And yet it does nothing to affect the demand for the vehicles. In July, the average used Model S sold for $83,078, ISeeCars says, up nearly $18,000 from the same period a year ago.
“Tesla has built an Apple-style buyer base and there is a lot of passion for the brand among this group,” Brauer said. “Whether that group is wealthy enough to afford a brand new one or has to wait for a used one to arrive. . . there just seem to be plenty of buyers for Teslas.”