Originally published on Gas2.
When Tesla began offering Model S certified pre-owned (CPO) cars on its website earlier this year, prices for used cars weren’t all that different than prices for new ones. But the rules of economics apply to Tesla as well as every other business. As supply goes up, prices come down. Tesla doesn’t do annual model changes the way every other manufacturer does, but it has introduced some significant upgrades to its cars in the past year or so. Significant enough, in fact, to make people think about trading in their old car and getting one with all the latest bells and whistles.
In October 2014, the factory began equipping every new car with the hardware needed to make Tesla’s Autopilot suite of semi-autonomous driving features possible. In September of this year, it downloaded the software upgrade that activates all those features, things like Autosteer, automatic parallel parking, autonomous lane changing, and advanced adaptive cruise control. Lots of early Model S owners now feel the need to swap their cars for later models that incorporate all those features.
Another significant upgrade that happened late last year was the decision to offer dual-motor all-wheel-drive cars. The addition of all-wheel drive is much appreciated in colder climates where snowy roads prevail in the winter, but it also helps with acceleration and range, two things many Tesla owners crave.
As such, the supply of used Teslas has gone up and prices are now starting to fall into the low $40,000 range (at times) for the early, base model cars that came with 60 kWh batteries and a range of 200 miles or so. Those who track the CPO page on the Tesla website report seeing a few cars with 85 kWh batteries offered for around $52,000.
The smaller, more affordable Tesla Model 3 is scheduled to appear in a few years. That said, Tesla has never delivered a new model on time, so who’s to say the Model 3 won’t be delayed until 2019 or beyond?
Even when the Model 3 does arrive, the much-ballyhooed $35,000 started price will be just for openers. Those who want dual motors, more powerful batteries, and features like Autopilot will probably end up paying $45,000 (or more!) for one.
Those kinds of low prices on CPO Model S cars has a lot of people considering whether it might not be better to get a full-size used Tesla now rather than wait for a smaller Tesla Model 3 for about the same money in 2–3 years. That’s according to Teslarati, which implies that one factor that used car buyers should keep in mind is that there are no federal or state tax credits available on used electric cars, except in Colorado.
If you want a Tesla, but the price of a new one is too much for your budget, keep an eye on the Tesla pre-owned web page. You just might spot a deal that’s too good to pass up!