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Tesla Model S retains its value better than gas-powered cars in its segment, losing only 28% after 50k miles


While often an overlooked factor when shopping, the depreciation rate is important to consider when making a large purchase like a car. Affordable to mid-range car models are often tracking close together and therefore, it’s rarely a significant factor, but it’s another story for premium vehicles and for electric vehicles apparently.

A new study shows that the Tesla Model S is leading vehicle value retention in the luxury sedan segment by an impressive margin, beating its gas-powered counterparts like the Audi A8, Mercedes S-Class and BMW 7 Series.

The new study was released today by Autolist. The buyer intelligence firm looked at over 1.6 million data points from January 1, 2012 to August 31, 2016 and compared the depreciation of vehicles in each segment over the number of miles driven.

Alex Klein, Autolist’s Vice President of Data Science, wrote in an email to Electrek:

“To put the depreciation in context, whereas a Tesla (Model S) will on average lose 28% of its value after being driven 50k miles, a Mercedes S-Class will lose 38%, a BMW 7-series will lose 40%, and an Audi A8 will lose 41%. As a result, Tesla owners end up with considerably more money in their pocket.”

The study expanded the results all the way to 100,000 miles driven and found that the Model S maintains its lead:


It’s an especially impressive achievement when you consider the $7,500 federal tax rebate. A Tesla Model S loses $7,500 in value the first day solely based on the fact that no one would buy the car used without a discount equivalent to the federal tax rebate. Otherwise, they would buy it new from Tesla and get the rebate themselves. State rebates only make the handicap worse for Tesla.

Based on the study, the Tesla Model S is so great at retaining its value that it erases any trace of this disadvantage over gasoline-power cars in its segment and then some.

Other electric vehicles are not faring so well. The same study found that the Chevy Volt, the BMW i3 and the Nissan LEAF are trailing far behind in term of value retention in their own segment in relation to gasoline powered cars:


Again, the federal tax rebate tax rebate effect is likely at play here. While it’s great for Tesla owners and not so much for LEAF, i3 and Volt owners, the roles are reversed when it comes to used car buyers.

The study looked at used car prices for each model since the beginning of the year and found that used Model S buyers are paying a 5% premium on the already strong value retention of the vehicle, but LEAF, i3 and Volt owners are getting significant discounts:


Therefore, this data is important to consider for both new car buyers and people looking at the used car market.

Featured images: header courtesy of Tesla – charts from Autolist’s study

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