It Sells Itself - 2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test
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2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

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2013 Tesla Model S: It Sells Itself

July 23, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

This may come as a disappointment to some, but we've sold our long-term 2013 Tesla Model S. A number of readers wanted us to keep the car for reasons ranging from "I want to see what else happens" to "the Model S is the only car worth reading about on this blog."

There was never a dull moment with our Model S, and while it wasn't my decision to sell it, I can understand why it had to go. First, we've already learned the lessons from this car. It is an impressive technological achievement, but Tesla needs to iron out its quality problems.

Second, we've already set our sights on buying two other vehicles: a 2015 Ford Mustang and a 2015 Ford F-150. Selling the Model S will make it possible for us to add two cars to the fleet and provide twice the content for our readers.

And third, we received not one but two offers for the Tesla and that was too good to pass up. Here's how it happened.

Sometime before Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing, went on his cross country road trip, I received an e-mail from a reader in Texas. He had seen the CarMax post and offered us $82,500 to buy our Model S. It was a solid offer, but I wasn't ready to sell yet. A couple weeks passed, and I took the car in for the milling sound I discussed in another post.

During that time, Edmunds Automotive Editor Mark Takahashi told us that Allan, a relative of his, was also interested in the Model S. Allan and his wife were already EV converts, having owned a Nissan Leaf. They didn't want to pay full price for a new Model S, or have to wait months for one to be built. He was fully aware of our car's repair history and was still interested. After all, the car's been sorted out and is still under warranty. That said, I recommended he purchase an extended warranty, just in case.

We told Allan that we already had an offer for $82,500, but we'd sell it to him for $83,000. He was OK with that. The Texas buyer, meanwhile, wasn't willing to counter Allan's offer, citing the added miles on the car and the recent drive unit replacement. Let me be clear: He was still interested in buying it, just not willing to go over his initial offer.

And so the Model S went to Allan and his wife for $83,000. The price was a $4,000 improvement over CarMax's offer of $79,000. Also keep in mind that CarMax made that offer before we added 7,778 miles to the car. You have to imagine CarMax's reappraisal would probably be about $1,000 less than the initial one.

There are two ways of looking at the depreciation on this car. If you factor in the cost of a High Powered Wall Connector ($1,200 plus $35 for shipping), we paid $105,005 for the Model S brand new. In that case, the used sale price of $83,000 represents 21-percent depreciation.

If you deduct the price of the HPWC — and, after all, we're keeping ours and we can imagine a Tesla owner doing the same — the retail price of our Model S would have been $103,770. Depreciation in that case would drop slightly, to 20 percent.

This car is a year-and-a-half old and has 30,000 miles on it, so in either case the car has impressive resale value. For reference, our fleet average is about 22-percent depreciation after one year. Maybe Tesla was onto something when it promised to have the highest resale value of the luxury brands.

I'm going to miss our Model S. It wasn't perfect, but it was like nothing else out there. Take heart, Tesla fans: Sometime in early 2015, we will be one of the first to buy a Model X.

Final Odometer: 30,251 miles

Ronald Montoya, Consumer Advice Editor

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