Tesla is bringing a new approach to buying a used car
Tesla's used car division is transforming how people buy vehicles, and they are not resorting to “wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube men” to do so. Tesla’s Director of Sales and Delivery Operations, Jimmy Douglas, told Electrek that he doesn’t need the attention-grabbing inflatables to beat the online used car giants.
Tesla seemingly stumbled into a brilliant plan to sell its used cars. In 2019, the electric vehicle trailblazer announced that it would not allow people who leased their Model 3s to sell them after; instead, the vehicle must be returned to the dealership. The original plan was to retrofit these previously loved cars to become the RoboTaxi. The RoboTaxi program, a fully autonomous vehicle that would take over the ridesharing sector, is still under development, so now Tesla has thousands of cars coming back to the lot.
The timing could not be more ideal. The demand for EVs has never been higher. However, some prospective buyers get sticker shock when shopping for electric vehicles, including the biggest name in the sector. A simple solution is to buy used. Used vehicle sales topped 40 million in the United States alone in 2021, compared to 15 million new vehicles.
Nevertheless, there is still the longstanding stereotype of the sleazy, used car salesperson pushing a shiny lemon at unsuspecting shoppers. That is certainly not the case with Tesla. Instead, the used car sales run similarly to the new car buying experience.
Douglas said to Electrek, “Most people don’t realize that Tesla runs its own vertically-integrated, nationwide online used car retailer. It’s as big as some publicly traded used car retailers you’ve definitely heard of, despite no Super Bowl commercials.” It can only be assumed he is referring to Carvana, which launched its Over Sharing Mom commercial during the 2022 Super Bowl. The used car company is valued at $4.69 billion.
Tesla does not have a line item showing how much its used car division is worth. That section of the company falls under Services and Other; on the most recent filing with the SEC, that number is $1.4 billion.
While it is not Carvana’s value, it is still a big chunk of change, especially because Tesla has recently stopped lessees from selling any of its products at the end of the term. That means a never-ending supply of used cars will be returned to the dealership.
In addition, the company is preparing for growth in this division. A recently posted job at Tesla reads: “Would you like to be part of a team transforming the way people buy a car?” Douglas is hiring an associate manager of used car quality. The posting continues, “As a leader in Tesla’s Used Car business, you are responsible for the development of the refurbishment process and managing daily refurbishment operations.”
Perhaps the used car division will get more respect in the future at Tesla and not be lumped into the 'other' category. That category has grown by 50 percent since last year. At this pace, used cars deserve a line of their own.
Tesla is a regular in the news cycle; if it's not about the vehicle, it's about the CEO. It's no secret Tesla stock is down, and investors who are long on the stock have lost a considerable amount over the past month. One of those investors is Gary Black, the Future Fund managing partner, who said in August that Tesla is the fund's largest position. Black is calling on Tesla to hire a public relations department to inform the media and the public of the positives around the brand.
Oddly enough, at the shareholders' event in August, Black said, "the thing we worry about most is not PR; it's succession." Now it seems that is what Black is worried about. He recently tweeted: People can't complain about the media if TSLA refuses to correct articles that are wrong, or worse, won't maintain relationships with TSLA beat reporters and editors so they can get TSLA's POV out when needed. Strong PR will be needed to sell FSD safety. Think long-term.
Black's stance may be understandable to some, especially those who have watched their trading account shrink, but it's implausible because Tesla doesn't need a PR department.
Musk and the Mainstream Media Don't Mix
Musk is currently using his new company to hold mainstream media accountable. In case you missed it, he's releasing the Twitter Files, a detailed report backed up with real emails to show suppression of true stories.
The Tesla CEO also regularly calls out media outlets for false stories, misleading headlines and biased reporting. Musk will not hire a team to try to steer newsrooms, something he has so little respect for, and it's unlikely legacy media outlets will listen.
Media Biased Against Tesla
Bad news generates more views and clicks and keeps the advertisers paying. Even when the news isn't bad, take, for example, a recent Reliability Report by Consumer Reports. Most, if not all, mainstream media declared Tesla as the terrible one, even though Tesla moved up four spots from the previous year. It was hard to find a mention of the manufacturers that scored less. Those included Chevrolet, GMC, Volkswagen, Jeep, and Mercedes Benz. Yes, the expensive luxury brand was dead last in reliability. That is a story.
Reporters also picked up that electric vehicles scored low for reliability. Consumer Reports said it was because EVs are new on the market. However, scoring even lower were full-sized pickups. Those have been on the market for quite a bit longer.
Tesla, which also has not spent a dime on advertising, disbanded its public relations department in 2020. That's unheard of by a company its size, especially in the automotive sector. However, Tesla and Elon have something much better — you are reading it right now. Not a Tesla App is one of several blog sites that publish news about Tesla daily. Many of these websites have writers who own Teslas. The stories are much more accurate, positive and just plain better than anything readers will find in the mainstream. Who says bias must be negative?
Word of Mouth Advertising
Now add hundreds, maybe even thousands of loyal enthusiasts who defend and promote Tesla on social media platforms. Next, throw into the mix the hundreds of thousands of Tesla owners who quite often are spokespeople for the company whenever they get out of the car. I've been sure to add 10 minutes of travel time to my drives because I'm likely to get asked some questions at the grocery store or car wash.
This kind of advertising money cannot buy, and it's the kind of positive publicity media will not share. So while Black's concerns are legitimate, a PR department is not the solution. Instead, Tesla needs to keep doing what it's been doing and let the product, its fans and the Tesla-inspired websites do the rest.
Tesla is getting ready to introduce WiFi garage door support to their vehicles through MyQ.
Since our article yesterday additional details have emerged about how MyQ will operate, which vehicles will be supported and whether there will be a cost to use the service. This information is based on a page that appeared briefly on MyQ's website but has since been removed.
MyQ's website stated that support for their garage door openers would be coming to the Model 3 and Model Y. While this makes a lot of sense because those vehicles don't include a HomeLink module, we'd be surprised if Tesla didn't also add support for the Model S and Model X.
Let's get cost out of the way. Although MyQ does not charge a fee today to remotely open and close their garage doors, they do plan on charging a fee to use their devices in vehicles. This could be looked at similarly to how some services are free to use on a PC but require a subscription to use on your mobile phone.
The price posted on MyQ's website was a five-year plan for $179, which is still cheaper than Tesla's $350 installation cost for HomeLink.
Unfortunately, this removes a big benefit we thought MyQ would have over buying a HomeLink module for the Model 3 or Model Y. For Model S and Model X owners who already have HomeLink included in their vehicles, it may not make as much sense.
However, MyQ does provide some advantages over HomeLink.
The good news is that MyQ integration will be very similar to HomeLink, and better in some ways. What appears to be a rendering of the feature working in a Tesla was also posted to their website which shows off a screen very similar to HomeLink.
On the MyQ settings screen, you'll have a list of supported devices on the left side, such as garage doors, gates and possibly lights, but we haven't see any evidence of the latter yet.
On the right side, you'll see options pertaining to the device selected, such as its current state, whether the garage door should auto-open or close and the distance when the device should be triggered.
You'll also be able to have the vehicle fold in its mirrors when reaching the target location.
If you've used HomeLink, this should all look very familiar since it's almost exactly the same. However, there are a couple of differences that give the advantage to MyQ.
The first is that MyQ is a smarter system and it knows the state of your garage door. So if you're arriving home and the garage door is already open, it won't try to close it on you.
The other advantage is distance. Since MyQ works over the internet you'll be able to trigger the garage door or gate from further down the driveway, giving the door plenty of time to fully open before you arrive.
MyQ supports an array of devices, but it waits to be seen whether there will be support for these additional devices such as lights and door locks.
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