2017 Model S
Source: Car Sales

An interesting thing is happening in the Australian electric vehicle market, namely that you can now get a Tesla Model S – albeit second hand – for the price of a new Model 3.

Yes, we are talking about secondhand versus new, but it was only a short time ago that those wanting a Tesla Model S sedan – the Californian electric carmaker’s seminal and first volume production vehicle – would have to pay around $90,000 for a used version.

Times have changed, and with the introduction of the Model 3 – Tesla’s more affordable “mass-market” electric sedan – onto the Australian market in recent months, it seems that the base price of a secondhand Model S is now in line with a new Model 3.

A brief search on second hand car sites reveals prices starting from $72,500 for a black 2014 Model with 85kWH battery, and about 100,000km on the clock.

2014 Model S
Source: Car Sales

This is in the vicinity of drive away pricing of a new Model 3, which in its Standard Range Plus (SR+) variant starts at $66,000 before on-road costs, ending up just above the $70,000 mark for most states, excluding the ACT (where Teslas get stamp duty exempt status) and Queensland (which has a reduced stamp duty rate for electric vehicles).

2019 Model 3
Source: Tesla

For that price, you get some superior features in the Model S, such as more powerful and quicker output from the motor, a larger battery and therefore longer driving range (assuming there has been no degrading of the older vehicle’s battery), and according to EV-Specifications, a faster maximum AC charging rate – but being secondhand, does not include any on-road costs.

(By the way, EV-Specifications is a great resource to compare the two for granularity and is where the vehicle data below was sourced from).

On the other hand, for a very similar price if one were to buy the new Model 3 SR+, the vehicle would include on-road costs, and definitely have the ability to use Tesla’s DC Supercharger network – if buying the 2014 Model S, buy beware – it might cost a pretty penny to have that ability unlocked.

2014 Model S 2019 Model 3 SR+
Drive Rear Wheel Drive Rear Wheel Drive
Battery 85kWh battery 62kWh
Power Output 310kW 202kW
Acceleration 0-100km/hr 4.4 seconds 5.6 seconds
Acceleration 0-60km/hr 4.2 seconds 5.3 seconds
Driving Range (EPA) 426.5km 386km
Supercharging * 120kW
Max AC charging rate 22kW 11.5kW

* Can be unlocked over-the-air for a price

At the other end of the 2019 Model 3 pricing spectrum, a top-of-the-range dual motor, all-wheel drive Performance variant with all the most expensive options – red paint for an additional $2,800, and white interior for $1,400 – will set you back around $108,000 drive away, and $96,275 before on-roads.

model 3 performance
Source: Tesla

The best vehicle on Car Sales currently that we could compare to the above Performance Model 3 specs (and for fairness sake, without on-road costs included), is this 2017 Model S 75D uncorked with just 19,000km on the clock for $95,000.

2017 model S
Source: Car Sales

Comparing the specs between these two vehicles, we find that they are much more even in terms of range, power output, and charging – although the newer Model 3 beats the older Model S hands down when it comes to acceleration.

2017 Model S 75D Red 2019 Model 3 Performance Red
Drive All Wheel Drive All Wheel Drive
Battery 75kWh battery 79.5kWh
Front Motor Output 193kW 147kW
Rear Motor Output 193kW 202kW
Combined 386kW 348kW
Acceleration 0-100km/hr 4.4 seconds 3.5 seconds
Acceleration 0-60km/hr 4.2 seconds 3.2 seconds
Driving Range (EPA) 499km 490km
Supercharging 120kW 120kW
Max AC charging rate 11.5kW 11.5kW

All food for thought, and the choice one would make between the new vehicle or the secondhand is entirely personal.

And granted, we are still talking prices for either that are above what most Australians would consider paying for a vehicle.

In time as battery prices fall further (the higher purchase price of EVs being inherently tied to this factor) both the purchase cost of a new electric vehicle and in turn that of a secondhand EV will tumble, particularly as they become more common on the Australian auto market.

See also The Driven’s Models pages for more news, reviews and test drives about various EV models.

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