Tumbling used car prices have made it much easier for shoppers to score good deals on second-hand rides, with one notable exception: electric car enthusiasts have often had to search high and low to get their hands on a used Tesla.
Now, those folks can breathe a bit easier, as Autotrader and Cars.com have begun selling pre-owned Tesla vehicles--with a little help from Tesla itself.
Buying a Tesla of any kind, used or new, has been especially tough since the first Tesla Roadsters began rolling off the assembly lines in 2008. That's because:
1. Tesla doesn't have a network of franchised dealerships to sell new or certified, pre-owned vehicles. Since most states have franchise laws on the books that prevent automakers from selling cars directly to consumers, Tesla has had to wage a long, arduous, state-by-state battle to bring its vehicles to market. Unlike buyers of mainstream vehicles, Tesla shoppers often have to travel long distances to reach showrooms or galleries or make their purchases via the Tesla website.
2. Tesla has maintained tight control over the resale market, which has helped its cars retain value, but hasn't done much to make them more available to shoppers in areas without Tesla showrooms or galleries. Sure, individual Tesla owners have been able to sell their vehicles to whomever they've liked, and some (but not all) dealerships have been willing to accept them as trade-ins. But for anyone who's wanted to trade in their Tesla for another Tesla or whose lease has expired, their vehicles have gone back to Tesla itself.
Now, the situation is improving. Recently, Tesla began offering its inventory of used vehicles through both Autotrader and Cars.com--the first time that Tesla has sold cars through third-party vendors. And as with second-hand vehicles sold directly by Tesla, many of those vehicles come with "certified pre-owned" warranties.
That will be a big relief to many Tesla fans, and it could be a big boon to Tesla, too, as many older models are coming off lease and the company begins to replace its fleet of loaner vehicles.