Like many of you on this forum, I put down my $1,000 on March 31st, 2016. I ordered on April 15, 2018 because I was told I’d get my car in 4-6 weeks. There were delays and I missed out on a $3,000 tax break here in WA state that expired on May 31st. I dealt with the disappointment and moved on. I changed my order to AWD (which I had previously been willing to sacrifice for the WA tax incentive) and eventually received my car in September of 2018. There were some body issues and paint issues, and my car eventually spent a few weeks at a Tesla service center to get them sorted out, but overall, I love the car more than any other car I’ve ever had. My price for the car (silver with white interior and EAP) was $61,500. Subtracting the tax credit, I paid $54,000. The purchase price for a similar configuration is now $52,500, or $48,750 after the tax credit: $5,250 less than what I paid six months ago (and a $9,000 vehicle value difference once the tax credit has completely expired). I also get a few additional EAP features no longer a part of the new version of AP which are difficult to calculate the exact value of, but nowhere near the value change.
Once again, I love my car. I love Tesla. I even like Elon Musk. At the same time, I’m also disappointed that the value of my car has gone down by more than the normal depreciation that occurs when you drive a new car off the lot. I can walk and chew gum at the same time.
Some of you keep comparing Tesla to other car manufacturers while also continually touting how different they are from other car manufacturers. Which is it? I’ve heard on these forums from some of you same people that one of the cool and unique things about Tesla is that you don’t have to haggle over price because they set their prices and that’s what everyone pays. I trusted (and perhaps my trust was misplaced, but it wasn’t completely unjustified) that if my car was $61,500 in 2018, it would be $61,500 or close to that in 2019.
Despite believing Tesla to be better and different, some of you have stated that other vehicle manufacturers’ prices go down year after year as justification for Tesla’s vehicle price drop. Personally, I’ve never purchased a car where the next year’s model of that car was cheaper. The price almost always goes up a little (new features and inflation usually contribute to this and is why people often purchase last year’s model when new models come out – it’s cheaper!). I’m sure there are exceptions, but it’s not the norm. Yes, there are sales here and there if you’re lucky to be ready to buy a new car when a sale is occurring, but one of the things I liked about Tesla was that they don’t normally do sales. If they did, I would have waited until a sale occurred.
As a matter of fact, Tesla urged customers incessantly to get their orders in by late last year to take advantage of the expiring tax credit. However, if they were simply going to lower the vehicle prices to make up for the lost tax credit, then doesn’t the urgency come across in hindsight as a bit insincere? I would have gladly waited until my lease was up on my previous vehicle (April of this year) to purchase an even cheaper version of my Model 3. I would have saved thousands on lease payments and thousands on my Model 3. I would have even had enough money to get the Performance model. However, all my calculations were based on Model 3 prices being constant due to Tesla urging customers to not miss out on the tax credit. The way they handled that was not an outright lie, but it sure seems a bit deceptive looking back.
It's also true, as some of you have stated, that a car in general isn’t a good investment. However, that doesn’t mean that we should be fine with it being devalued to this extent either. It can be somewhere in between. The devaluing of our current vehicles has made it a worse liability than it already was.
To those of you who think that those of us disappointed in the price reductions should be OK with paying more to be a part of transitioning the world from fossil fuels to electricity, surely that could also be done without hurting us financially. As much as I like Tesla and Tesla’s mission statement, I didn’t join a cult. I purchased a vehicle. I’d like to feel that as an early adopter, purchasing a vehicle I’d never seen nor driven, should be appreciated not just in word, but in deed as well. If my only objective in buying a Tesla was to help the transition to renewable energy, then I’d be mostly happy about Tesla’s vehicle price reductions, but again, I can walk and chew gum at the same time. I can be happy that Tesla is closer to moving the world in that direction by selling more affordable cars and also disappointed that it may eventually affect my bottom line.
To those of you who say that it doesn’t affect you if you’re going to keep your car forever, that’s true. However, most people don’t keep their cars forever, and at some point, it will affect them. If I want to trade in my car in 4 years, do you think the dealership is going to use the $61,500 starting price I paid or the $52,500 starting price? After all, it’s pretty much the exact same vehicle. The tax credit will be gone so that won’t even be a factor. Obviously, the longer you wait to sell or trade in your car, the less it will hurt you, but some people may come against financial hardship and will need to offload their Model 3 quicker than expected. I feel sorry for those people, and I hope I’m not one of them.
To those of you who are comparing a Tesla Model 3 to a box of Macaroni & Cheese at the store that goes on sale, you’re comparing apples to oranges. Ignoring what I said above about Tesla not being a company known for sales, Mac & Cheese is gone after you eat it. You’re not ever going to sell that box of Mac & Cheese to someone or trade it in back to the store. It’s not a depreciating asset like a vehicle. It’s meant to be consumed and then you purchase more, maybe when it’s on sale. The Tesla is meant to be used and eventually sold or traded for a new one at a market value…which has now gone down substantially. Also, you may purchase 24 boxes of Mac & Cheese over a year, and therefore benefit from price averaging. It’s clearly very different than purchasing a $60k depreciating asset.
To those of you comparing your Tesla purchase to a TV or a computer or a mobile phone, at the very least you recognize the difference in magnitude, right? To most people who purchase a Model 3, a $2,000 television is not a huge multi-year commitment involving a bank and monthly payments on an asset you may be upside-down on for years. Other than the magnitude, you also don’t usually have the relationship with the manufacturers of these consumer products that we have with Tesla as early adopters. Tesla is a new company struggling to make it and needing early adopters to ensure its survival. Perhaps some assumed too much, but the feeling was that early adopters with Tesla take risks by putting money towards a product that they haven’t even seen, thereby helping Tesla survive and fulfill its mission, and Musk and company treat them at least as good as those who didn’t help out in that way. I know, for me, I still love Tesla, I still want to see them succeed. I’d still purchase another Tesla. However, I wouldn’t be an early adopter at this point, and I know many others feel the same. If you really are so concerned with Tesla’s mission that you have zero disappointment about your vehicle being devalued, you should at least be disappointed that they may have lost a large percentage of early adopters in the future. Some of you have said this is a learning opportunity. However, what some existing and potential early adopters may have learned is that we are a cautionary tale, and that may eventually hurt Tesla unfortunately.
It’s amusing to me that so many of you are upset that some of us are a little disappointed, as if there is no reason to be disappointed in any way. It doesn’t mean that we’re entirely unhappy or that we don’t like our cars or that most of us think we’re entitled to a check for the difference in the vehicle price. It also doesn't make us whiners or entitled. It’s simply disappointment that one of our most valued possessions is worth substantially less now, which seems like a pretty normal emotion for that scenario. It doesn’t make us like the car any less. It just affects our bottom line eventually and that’s disappointing. Tesla doesn’t owe me or anyone else anything. As has been pointed out ad nauseum, we agreed to pay what we paid. However, that doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t be a smart idea for Tesla to find a way to take extra special care of their biggest evangelists, their early adopters, and to mitigate the idea of this being a cautionary tale against early adoption of future Tesla vehicles.
TL;DR? Feel free to not take the time to comment either.