Who Is the Used Tesla Model S Buyer?
Tesla and has taken both the automotive and technology industries by storm for the better part of the past decade. After hitting the market three years ago, its Model S has seen sales accumulate to well over 40,000 units in the US alone. With a price tag hovering in the six-digit range, the Model S is no more than a fanciful aspiration for most Americans. But that is starting to change. We are now seeing a healthy crop of the popular EV on the used market, which obviously brings the purchase price much lower. Granted, it's not an overwhelming number of vehicles (and the price tag is still considerably high compared to most used cars) but at the end of May there were 1600 used Model Ss registered in the US. While it may not be a lot, it's enough to hint at some interesting buyer trends. And while some are very predictable, others drift to a more surprising side.
Used Model S owners are Younger
Used Model Ss are on the market for less than $60K which makes the vehicle more attainable for a younger and less affluent demographic. Because of the lower price point, about 10 percent of used Model Ss have been purchased by Millennials, compared to just six percent of all new Model S purchases.
Used Model S Owners Have a Lower Income
Only about one in four new Models S purchases were made by shoppers earning under $100K annually. But more than a third of all used Model S purchases are made by shoppers earning less than $100K.
Used Tesla Owners Also Skew Highly Male
This is one area where we see the least difference between new and used Model S buyers. The male/female split is virtually identical:
The Less Obvious
Used Teslas are migrating out of California
Ah, California. With its legendary traffic issues and reputation for all things green, the state has commanded the lion's share of electric vehicle sales. The Model S is no different. Nearly half of all new Model Ss (45%) are sold in the company's home state. But not all used Teslas are staying in the Golden State, which is surprising, given that ownership comes with access to the state's venerable white clean air vehicle decal and robust charging network. Only 30% of used Teslas are registered in California, and while it's not uncommon to see luxury vehicles travel out of large metropolitan hubs, it is unusual to see it happen to this high of a degree.
So where are they going?
The place with the biggest discrepancy between new and used Model S ownership is the state of Washington. The state only comprises 4.6% of new Model S sales but registers an impressive 9% of used. Even more surprising — more used Model Ss were registered in Seattle than the San Francisco Bay Area in 2015 (SF still outranks Seattle over the lifetime of all used Tesla Model S sales.) Southwestern cities also seem to favor the used EV — Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Dallas command a much larger percent of used Model Ss compared to their rates of new Model Ss.
Top 15 Tesla Used Markets:
The caricature of the wealthy, trend-setting Tesla owner is clearly identified in pop culture, but it's interesting to see this image diversifying on the used market. A wide-ranging buyer base is paramount for an aspirational brand that hopes to grow into the mainstream. Tesla's long term future depends on their anticipated Model 3 which will is expected to be a mass-market vehicle. Early used Model S data is proving that with a more attainable price tag there is demand for the vehicle to a more diverse customer set.
Jessica Caldwell is the Director of Industry Analysis at Edmunds.com. Follow @jessrcaldwell on Twitter.