If You Bought A Tesla One Year Ago It Has Lost As Much As $40,000 In Value


Model 3 depreciation has typically been a bit lower than the others, largely because it is the cheapest entry point to the Tesla lineup, and as a result is still in pretty high demand. The rear-wheel-drive Model 3 was available last year, so we’ll work our estimate off of that one, and it cost a whopping $46,990 a year ago. Tesla has dropped that price to just $38,990 since, and used 2023 model year cars are still selling for $37,000. There are a few examples selling under $30,000, including this potentially desperate seller, asking just $28,499.

Let’s start with that Model X Dual Motor. As the most expensive Tesla, the X has a lot more to lose than the others. At the end of October, 2022, the cheapest Model X was $120,990, and that same car today is $79,990. According to CarGurus, a used 2023 model year car without too many miles is still basically worth what a new Model X is worth, presumably because there’s no wait time for the factory to deliver. The current wait time on a new X is two to three months, so maybe this makes sense if you need it now. The lowest price I could find nationally was $71,995, which seems like a good deal. That’s over $49,000 less than it cost new, and eight grand less than a new one ordered today.

“Buying a car today is an investment into the future. I think the most profound thing is that if you buy a Tesla today, I believe you are buying an appreciating asset, not a depreciating asset.” Elon Musk said that in 2019, and like many of his bold vision statements, has continually been proven wrong every minute of every day since. Hundreds of thousands of Tesla buyers have driven tens of thousands of dollars of value out of their cars.

Let’s say I drove 10,000 miles in that year, and I pay 9.6 cents per kWh for electricity service. Most of the time I’m using this hypothetical Model X for commuting, but will occasionally drive long distances and rely on the Tesla charging network, say a quarter of the miles. Tesla throws in charging for the first three years on a Model X sale, so we’re only really paying for 7,500 miles worth of electricity. The EPA rates the Model X at 33kWh/100 miles, meaning I used approximately 2,475 kWh to drive that 7,500 miles, and paid about $237.60 in electricity to charge up at home.

Obviously buying a new car is almost always going to be a money losing proposition. Elon might have convinced some people that buying a new Tesla would get them an appreciating asset, but that was a lie then and it remains a lie today. If you’re looking for a way to make best use of your money, don’t buy a new car, and don’t listen to the world’s richest man.

How about the less expensive and more popular Teslas? The Model Y is the best selling EV in history, and is constantly shifting new units. A year ago a new Model Y Long Range AWD cost $65,990, but today it’ll run you just $48,990, (and the recently-introduced Model Y RWD is $5,000 fewer still). CarGurus says an average Model Y Long Range AWD is $46,000 on the used market, while I found the lowest priced example was $43,165, accounting for a loss of at least $22,825.

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At the end of twelve months with the car, I have paid $57,302.72 to own it and insure it. Unfortunately the outstanding balance on my Model X loan is $82,993, and Tesla just dropped the price of a new Model X to $79,990. Even if I can get the $80,000 price that CarGurus says I can, I’m still almost $60,000 in the hole to own this car for a year. Yikes.