Published on May 6th, 2018 | by Bob Borsh0
Pre-Owned Tesla In Your Future? One Owner’s Story
May 6th, 2018 by Bob Borsh
I recently told the story of our solar system installation with Tesla Energy. Well, this episode of our Tesla experience is how I came to find the 2016 build Model S 75D.
Like most people of average means, I didn’t think a Model S was in our future. At least, not as soon as we were able to obtain it at least. Once 2012 and 2013 built Model S’s came back to Tesla Motors at the end of their initial lease period, the company began its Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program and created a page on the website showcasing these beauties. Early on, most offerings were 60 kWh rear-wheel-drive offerings, there were some 85 kWh now and then, but all pretty much first-generation builds.
Through my hours of research, I decided that I’d want an all-wheel-drive version of whatever I wound up purchasing, as well as a range of at least 250 miles. Furthermore, most of the early offerings were well beyond my price range, being in the $70,000 area.
So, I waited, and read, and researched, and read, and waited. With all my reading, I stumbled upon a tech writer named David Noland on the Green Car Reports website. David had a years-long multi-episode tale of owning an early Model S (serial number in the 3000 range). It came as a 60 kWh and he had it upgraded to 85 kWh along the way. The series is really a great read and I encourage anyone who is considering owning an electric car to find it and read the entire thing. The latest episode I can find is from February of this year.
Meanwhile, I, like may others, added my name to the list of reservations for a Model 3. Knowing full well it would be years before I had the opportunity to actually place an order, it seemed like the best shot at getting ownership of a Tesla Motors product.
In early 2017, David had at long last decided to upgrade from the 85, which now had somewhere in the range of 75,000 miles on the odometer. Tesla wasn’t offering what David thought was a fair trade-in value, so he was looking to sell it outright. Around about the same time, this being March of 2017, he was contacted by the owner of a website called OnlyUsedTesla.com. It was (and is) basically just a marketplace for buyers and sellers to connect. I don’t even know the listing rules and regs for those looking to sell their cars, but if you are on the buying side, that shouldn’t concern you, as there are no fees related to purchasing a car from the site.
So, over I go to onlyusedtesla.com. At first look, there couldn’t be more than 30 or 40 cars listed. This was in June of 2017, I believe. Most, again, were as I described from the Tesla CPO page: 60 kWh, 85 kWh, some P85’s. There was David’s car too. It’s very easy to contact the owners directly — direct line to ask the owner any questions, etc.
Still thinking they were beyond our financial capability, I looked at and talked to the owner of one Model 75D in Boston who was looking for an individual to take over the balance of his lease. Although the financial terms were somewhat favorable, the term of the lease would limit my use of the car without substantial penalties as with all lease terms limiting mileage.
I then saw a Model 60D built in August 2016 with 19,000 miles on the clock. The owner, a 27 yr old from Minneapolis, was getting ready to leave the country for Central America — by late August 2017. He was well versed in electric vehicles, having leased an electric Ford Focus for the three years prior to his purchase of the Model S.
Although it had the battery with the least overall range, any “facelift” Model S 60 kWh was actually built with a 75 kWh battery, the balance of which could be “opened up” for a nominal fee of $2,000 to Tesla. This option would boost the range to an EPA rating of approximately 257 miles. Long enough for my daily commute of 190 miles with room to spare. The build was quite impressive overall, with a solid black exterior, light gray leather next-generation seats, cold weather package, panoramic roof with sunroof, standard 19” slipstream wheels, and premium upgrade package.
Our negotiations were done within two phone calls with financing already approved on our end. The only glitch was it was halfway across the country! I did want an independent inspection of the car. Although, speaking with the previous owner and knowing his passion for all things Tesla far exceeded even mine, I had little to worry about.
Another thing I learned in short order, Tesla owners, as my wife so lovingly puts it, “are a little cultish.” Not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination, and a very good thing in my estimation, but true nonetheless.
I placed an inquiry in the Tesla Motors Club Twin Cities forum page asking for an independent inspection of the car. I received a reply from the president and founder of the local establishment. He did not know the previous owner or the car and offered to meet them and look the car over. This was completed in a few days as well, with me receiving a full report and pictures. The fee: a few six packs of a specialty soda which was not readily available in his area.
Now for transportation. Back to the Twin Cities forum page. Inquiring if anyone was interested in an all-expenses-paid road trip from Minnesota to Vermont, I now received four responses. Our chosen chauffeur was a retired chemical engineer who was on his second Tesla, a Model X 90D. Schedules aligned, his trip took three days and two nights from his home west of the Twin Cities to our rural home in Vermont. He arrived early evening on a Friday, gave me an hour tour of the car and it’s functions while my wife cooked dinner, stayed with us overnight, and left the next morning when we took him to the regional airport in New Hampshire. His fee: $400, including airfare, two nights lodging, and meals. He would not accept a penny more.
Lots of details, I know, but my point is: if you’re willing to do your due diligence, which I am sure any potential Tesla owner is willing to do, you too can get a great deal on anything from an early build Model S to a Model 3 (which are already available for resale on the website). As I mentioned earlier, when I started looking on onlyusedtesla.com, there were fewer than 50 offerings. The website now offers more than 300 vehicles across the US, Canada, and the UK.
Finally, in an effort to “pay it forward,” as they say, I would be happy to consult with anyone looking for their first Tesla product, having owned mine for 7 months and 10,000 miles now. If you’re a resident of the New England area, I’d be happy to accompany you to your site visit of a vehicle you’re thinking of purchasing. Because, you know, we are sisters and brothers of Elon after all.
Related: Long-Term Tesla Model S Review