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My Experience Buying a Tesla

June 26, 2016

20160426_154635After making the decision to buy a Tesla, the analysis then shifted to how to get the best deal for my money.

Fortunately for me, what I wanted (a Model S 85) was only available used.  That ruled out new.  I looked at Telsa’s Certified Pre-Owned program but found I could find other deals online cheaper – usually by ~10k.  So that sent me focused outside of Tesla for used.

What I found was that since Tesla’s are a rather unique vehicle with a variety of configurations, used ask prices were all over the place.  Before I could get a “good” deal I had to manually figure out the “market” for used Teslas.

I built a spreadsheet that tracked the year, model, battery, and options for all Tesla’s for sale that matched what I wanted across the nation – and had my assistant keep continuously updating it.  We then tracked Actives (for sale), and solds/pendings.  The important information was really getting a solid feel for Solds so when an extra good deal came up, I felt confident so I could move quickly (and negotiate, as it turned out).

What we found were market inefficiencies and pricing all over the place.  The gap between ask and sale prices often exceeded 20k.  And even sold prices for very similar cars could vary substantially – understandably.  People were buying substantially blind.

In the end, I almost bought a car for 68k (plus 2k in shipping/fees = ~70k) that was almost exactly what I wanted.  It was a great deal and I pounced.  They were emailing me the paperwork.  Locally, I had found what I wanted – exactly what I wanted – but they were asking 85k, firm.  15k higher.  I wanted to try one more time to talk him down.

I ended up convincing the guy to meet with me, asap, and used my spreadsheet to my advantage.  He agreed he could ask anything he wanted, but what mattered is what he would sell for.  He had no idea what “reasonable” was.  I had the data.  Emotionally, he had just paid a fortune new and didn’t want to lose a fortune.  I showed him the data.  To have an equivalent car (to the 70k deal above) with this local car’s upgrades, a good deal would be to pay 72.5k-ish.  We settled on 73.5k.  It got me exactly what I wanted (Model S 85, tech, autopilot, 19’s, upgraded stereo and upgraded interior package) and I could see/touch it and know exactly the condition it was in.

Having the data helped me save $11.5k and gave me confidence it was a solid deal.

If interested is seeing the layout/data, I’ve put a link to the spreadsheet I built here.


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