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Now Might Be A Good Time To Buy A Used Tesla Model 3 — Or Maybe Soon

With the coronavirus pandemic and related economic crisis well underway, and perhaps also with the arrival of the Model Y (it’s unclear if this is related), there are some signs of hope for potential used Model 3 buyers.

We’ve reported a few times based on our own research as well as that of independent research firms that the Tesla Model 3 has held its value very well on the used car market. It’s #1 in that regard, and it’s not even close. While this is greatly appreciated by new-car buyers of the Model 3, and is seen as a big reason to buy the car (or even to splurge on it), the flip side of the story is that many people waiting for a good deal on a used Model 3 feel like they’re trying to watch a pot of ice boil. Well, with the coronavirus pandemic and related economic crisis well underway, and perhaps also with the arrival of the Model Y (it’s unclear if this is related), there are some signs of hope for potential used Model 3 buyers.

Mostly, when we look at how the Model 3 is doing on the used car market, we look at resale value. Here are two related stories on that:

However, there are a couple of other ways you could try to understand and analyze how well a car does on the used car market. You could look at how many of them end up on the market and stay there, and you could look at how quickly a car put on the market is sold. I recently conducted a report on the former and found that there were far fewer 2019 Model 3s on the market per car sold than any of its competitors — 33× more than the Audi A3 or A4, 15.5× more than the BMW 2 Series, 3 Series, or 4 Series, 17× more than the Ford Mustang, 31× more than the Nissan Maxima.

Regarding how long a car is sold once put on the used car market, the Model 3 was crushing it in that category as well. (Which makes sense — you would expect a car that does exceptionally well in one of those categories to do well in all of them.) In a new report, iSeeCars shows that the Model 3 is still a leader in this metric, but that it is no longer far away in #1 — and not even #1 at all. It dropped from 71.5% of cars being sold with 30 days in February 2020 to 47.4% in March 2020. That’s a big drop, the biggest drop. It’s a 24.2% difference from month to month.

Table via iSeeCars

It’s not clear if this is really paying off in lower prices yet, but if it is sustained, one would presume that becomes a clear shift in the market. That said, iSeeCars also reports on average used car prices after different numbers of years, and the Model 3 is almost bewildering in how well it holds its value. The average price of 1-year-old Model 3 on the used car market is $45,361, whereas the average price of 3-year-old Model 3 on the used car market is $41,911, hardly any less. There is one special factor to keep in mind, though. It took a long time before Tesla started producing the cheaper Standard Range Plus (SR+) version of the Model 3 and there have also been price cuts over the years. So, the average new car price of a Model 3 three years ago was much higher than the average new car price of one last year.

“The Tesla Model 3 is typically in very high demand, and as a result, it is the used car with the best resale value,” says iSeeCars CEO Phong Ly. “However, because they are lingering on lots now is the time when dealers may offer more deals than usual.”

Take a look around if you’ve been waiting to snatch up a used Model 3. Maybe there’s something available now for you, or maybe there will be in the coming month or so. I think I’d like to watch the market closely for at least a week before making any big decisions, and I do feel like the bigger price drops would come a bit later (in coming month or three), but who actually knows? We are living in unprecedented times and this is an unprecedented car, in multiple ways. Try your best to time things in a a beneficial (if not ideal) way.

If you’re curious about Tesla Model 3 ownership, peruse our Tesla Model 3 long-term review articles from several Model 3 owners, including myself.

Want to buy a Tesla Model 3, Model S, or Model X and need a referral code? Feel free to use mine to get some free Supercharging miles with your purchase: can also get a $250 discount on Tesla solar with that code. You don’t currently get any benefit from a referral code when ordering a Model Y or reserving a Cybertruck.

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Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.


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