What would the resale price be of a 2012 Tesla Model S (49,900 USD, 40 kWh battery, and no options at all) in the US in 2020?

What would the resale price be of a 2012 Tesla Model S (49,900 USD, 40 kWh battery, and no options at all) in the US in 2020?

Suppose this Tesla Model S has 200,000 miles on the meter after 8 years (2012 -2020). Any idea?

eelton | 6 février 2013

Obviously no one knows. I'll throw out a guess--$5000.

I expect that once the market settles, these cars will lose value at least as quickly as higher end ICE cars.

ChasF | 6 février 2013

Another guess: $10,000

Benz | 6 février 2013

I personally thought that the resale value of this EV would certainly be between 5,000 USD and 10,000 USD (if this EV still is reasonably good looking).

LarsT | 6 février 2013

The aluminum body should be fine and without rust. Paint and interior depends on care taking.

But maybe, the Model S is so modular, that you put in a new computer (with then availible 5G connectablity) for $1000 bucks and (if the Battery should be worn) a new 500-mile-range Battery for 5000 Dollar. Then it should be "better than new" - at least compared to the new car today.

Maybe that would sell for 30.000 USD - whatever that will be worth by 2020...

Benz | 6 février 2013

@ Lars T

A new 500-mile-range battery will cost much more than 5,000 USD in 2020. At least 25,000 USD, if you ask me. But your assumption on upgrading the EV is correct, that would be an option as well.

LarsT | 6 février 2013


Well, on first sight this seems impossible, but with battery prices close to US$ 250/kWh today and an average degression of 20% in prices annually (has been the case over the past four years), we will end up with about $50/kWh in 2020. For a 140kWh battery you will pay about 7.200 Dollar then.

Vall | 6 février 2013

Tesla is already offering a 85 kWh replacement battery after 8 years for $12,000. And they are very unlikely to be selling that at a loss. It's not a charity. Of course tehy will get back your old battery and most likely reuse the battery core (the metal frame with all the cooling and electronics) and put new cells in it, and either recycle or repurpose the old cells. Prices are going down at an average of 8% a year, not 20% btw.

Benz | 6 février 2013

@ Vall

Correct, it's 8% per year. And that would mean that a 85 kWh battery will cost then about 20,000 USD.

The Battery Replacement Option is not for sale yet. It has only been announced.

When you will be able to buy that Battery Replacement Option, you shall have to pay an extra 12,000 USD when you receive your Tesla Model S. And after 8 years (or more) you can have your battery replaced if you would want it by then. But if your battery is still good enough to recharge, then it does not make sense to replace your battery. And by the way, you just might have sold the EV already by then, who knows? 8 years is a long time.

Vall | 6 février 2013

If you know that in 8 years the 85 kWh battery will cost 20,000, accounting for 8% per year decrease in price, then you must know the current price. How can you possibly know that? And do you take into account that significant portion of the battery price is not only the cells themselves, but the whole structure, with cooling and electronics. If you have already paid 12,000 upon delivery, it doesn't make sense NOT to replace your battery, it will have definitely degraded, no question about that. The replacement option says nothing about battery condition at the time of replacement as far as I can see. If you sell the car, you also sell the battery replacement option, which will help you get a better price, since the next owner will be entitled to the option.

Benz | 6 février 2013

@ Vall

A large portion of the total price for a Tesla Model S with a 85 kWh battery pack, is for the 85 kWh battery pack. And that is about 40,000 USD!!!

I am not saying that the Battery Replacement Option is NOT good. Or that the price (12,000 USD) is too high. But it has got to make sense. You have to think about the other option as well.

danielccc | 6 février 2013

I don't think there are any 2012 40kWh models, or even 60kWh, are there?

I think the surviving 2012's will become collectibles at some point. They will be relatively rare (about 3,000 made), and hopefully of historic significance.

That said, collectible status requires more time. Eight years out the cars will still to new to be collectibles. But I'd be surprised if they went for only $5K, unless they were in poor shape.

Vall | 6 février 2013


What other option do I have to think about? The replacement price is the official tesla price, and it has been confirmed it will be available at some point in the near future. You are estimating your $40,000 from the price difference between the models, and yet the difference in replacing the 40kWh and the 80kWh is only $4000. It makes perfect sense to me, and it will probably be cheaper than buying it directly off the shelf in 2020, as a way to show that people who bought the replacement option were not duped.

Pungoteague_Dave | 6 février 2013

What is a 10 year old laptop or cell phone worth today? The answer, unfortunately, is zero. The more a car depends on or revolves around computer technology, the faster it becomes obsolete. Already finding the incredibly slow screen redraws and required reboots maddening, and will gladly pay to replace/upgrade in a few years, just as we do with cell phones. The question is when will TM have to stop supporting and providing software upgrades? Probably when the initial chipsets are no longer supported by the manufacturer, or the next version of the base operating software requires newer hardware. Much like three-year-old Android phones cannot run the latest two o/s versions and never will be able to do so, and old iPhones can't run iOS6. The old phones will work until they don't, but there's no warranty or service coverage, and the only choice when they break is to buy new, despite having a name brand and good reputations.

Just try to call ANY computer company for OS support on a mid-1990's computer. You will be laughed at and told to get new hardware. iPads did not even exist two years go and we are already on the fourth generation. Same will happen with the Model S, on a slower cycle. Disbelieving this is magical thinking and a characteristic of a fanboy.

DouglasR | 6 février 2013

Yeah, whereas my '65 Dodge Dart is still worth what I paid for it.

Timo | 6 février 2013

That 8% is actually improvement in capacity, not price directly. 20000 cars use 4000-8000 batteries each which is 80-160 million batteries. You can probably triple that with GenIII. That's a lot of batteries even in global scale, so maybe you get a lot bigger drop in battery prices due economics of scale.

OTOH if demand excess supply price might get higher, not lower.

Capacity improvement has been faster than 8% recently. 2.1Ah to 3.1Ah did take only 4 years and this improvement rate is probably getting faster, not slower, with new Si -based batteries.

Vall | 7 février 2013

to see what the rate will be with si-based batteries, there has to be at least another generation after the initial 4Ah.

jfeldman72 | 7 février 2013

Who cares.

gregv64 | 7 février 2013

@Pungoteague_Dave: Except a car isn't a computer. The entire point of a computer is to run apps, and when it can no longer run the apps people want it becomes essentially worthless. The point of a car is to get you from place A to place B, and as long as it can do that reliably it's value will be >0. The touch screen may look hopelessly outdated and clunky in 10 years, but who cares as long as it can still control basic functions.

Brian H | 7 février 2013

"That quaint 17" touchscreen ..." | 7 février 2013

If fuel is 7-10 gal, the value proposition of electric may start to cause demand on lower cost(used) electric cars. What will the projected cost of gas be in 2020? How will a tank of gas cost?

gregv64 | 7 février 2013

The other unknown is that high mileage electric cars may benefit from the simplicity of the drivetrain with lower maintenance costs. The range will be reduced, but a used model S might become the ideal cheap in town family hauler. On the other hand, if they become know for needed expensive repairs (like replacing the touchscreen or the air suspension), then that will significantly reduce their resale value. Impossible to know. For me, I mentally amortize the cost of cars over 7 years and count any sales price as a bonus. | 7 février 2013

My average depreciation over about 5 cars turns out to be around $6,500 to $7,500. No oil changes covers annual tesla checks. Free fuel via net metering and the sun. In Ontario, and i hear soon in the states? No brake jobs. I usually need brakes every 50,000 miles. ($1,500). Great driving for free after 7 ish years!

georgefmoses | 7 février 2013

I agree with gregv64.
The primary function of a car is travel.
The primary function of a house is to provide shelter.
The primary function of a phone is to make calls.
Any postive investment return or lack of loss - is only ancillary.
Pungoteague_Dave's pedantic comments such as "Disbelieving this is magical thinking and a characteristic of a fanboy" and similar comments found in other blogs are laughable.
Economics teaches us of the reality of barriers to entry where lots of capital are required to enter the auto manufacturing business. Cell phones are a dime a dozen, with many competitors.
Where is the evidence that "The more a car depends on or revolves around computer technology, the faster it becomes obsolete" Says who? They're ALL dependant upon technology in 2013.