Home » Tesla Owners Are Incredibly Unhappy About Recently-Announced Discounts

Tesla Owners Are Incredibly Unhappy About Recently-Announced Discounts

Tesla Discount Topshot

It’s shaping up to be a suboptimal year to own a Tesla, unless you’re buying one now. First came accelerated depreciation, which Kevin Williams did a great job detailing. Used Teslas suddenly went cheap, possibly because the CEO is a rather divisive figure, although it might also have something to do with the stock tanking. Then a bomb dropped that could exacerbate this condition – Tesla slashed prices to the point of sneaking into federal EV tax rebate territory on a couple models. Check out Matt Hardigree’s article for more details on these price cuts. Propping up an artificially-inflated stock like Tesla’s requires perpetual growth, so massive price reductions should open up Tesla to a new audience. The downside, of course, is very unfortunate results for current owners who paid higher prices for their electric machines.

A quick glance at social media shows many Tesla owners complaining about depreciation, and we’ve rounded up some of those sentiments.

Tesla discount complaint

Of course, not every Tesla owner is upset about the discounts. Some see it as a great opportunity to grow the brand, like this guy here.

tesla discounts reaction

These Tesla markdowns remind me of when Chevrolet announced deep MSRP discounts on 2023 Bolt EV and Bolt EUV models, although Chevrolet Bolt owners seem to have reacted to the 2023 Bolt’s lower MSRP a bit less harshly than many Tesla owners are taking these price cuts.

Chevrolet Bolt Discount 4

Chevrolet Bolt Discount 3

Chevrolet Bolt Discount 1

Chevrolet Bolt Discount 2

So why do a bunch of Bolt owners seem to be taking the 2023 discount in stride while the general sentiment of Tesla owners towards recent discounts is hostile? Well, Tesla is a bit of a unique case regarding the customers it attracts and the financial decisions those customers make.

Let’s start with the customers Tesla attracts. S&P Global crunched the numbers on Tesla conquests from October 2021 through September 2022 and here’s what the firm found. BMW owners accounted for 6.7 percent of Tesla conquests, followed by Mercedes owners at 6.2 percent and Audi owners at 4.4 percent. That’s roughly 17.3 percent of owners new to the Tesla brand that should’ve been used to rapid depreciation. Worryingly though, a large number of Tesla conquests aren’t coming out of cars with high depreciation. Toyota and Honda owners made up 28.6 percent of Tesla conquests during that period, so I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that Tesla owners coming out of mainstream ICE cars weren’t expecting such depreciation.

0x0 Tesla Model 3 01

Such a dramatic drop in value could see some owners going from positive equity to negative equity overnight — a rather dramatic shift considering how Teslas appear to be stretch purchases for many. Marketwatch reported that Tesla owners took out the longest loans of any car brand’s owners during the first 10 months of 2021. This drop in value also comes off the back of numerous price hikes through 2021 and 2022, so like with most dips, those who got in early are likely better off than anyone who came in at the peak.

In addition to every owner, every dealer with Tesla-heavy inventory is left holding the bag. Eventually, they’ll have to take losses in order to shift units bought at the top of the market, digging into the bottom line. The whole situation is just a shit sandwich for everyone involved, and it could result in very real consequences.

0x0 Model3 16

So, let’s recap. On the plus side, Tesla’s discounts may bring more people into the EV fold by making new EVs with access to a reliable DC fast charging network more affordable. On the other hand, Tesla’s discounts will leave some owners underwater on their loans and kick dealers who bought high in the teeth. Perhaps overarching all else though, these Tesla discounts could be a sign that incentives are returning to the new car market. We’ll see in a few months whether this is a leading indicator or just a fluke.

(Photo credits: Tesla, Tesla Owners Worldwide, chevybolt.org)


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113 Responses

  1. I have to ask: Why are companies so determined to keep stock prices inflated?
    Is it about accessing the cheapest loans? Or other benefits i’m not aware of?

    1. It’s simple. Two reasons.

      First, it’s long been legally required in the U.S. (by law and court decisions going back about 100 years) that any investor-owned company’s highest priority and obligation is to ‘maximize shareholder value’, which means inflate the stock price as much as possible, using any means available (usually, hype). Any company that doesn’t ‘maximize shareholder value’, in the opinion of shareholders, is subject to be sued, and senior management replaced with those who embrace the hype machine. There are law firms whose only business is to sue companies whose stock is seen as ‘underperforming.’ Senior management at major corporations know this, and realize if they don’t feed the hedge fund beasts with endless stock pumping, they’ll get sued and booted out.

      Second, the compensation of most senior executives at major corporations is largely stock based (such as options). They themselves have a personal vested financial interest in pumping the stock as high as possible, because it makes them worth more. Elon Musk used to be the richest man in the world, with most of that wealth being his Tesla stock – but not any more, ever since his net worth dropped by $182 billion, setting a world record –


        1. Lawyers might debate the semantic differences between maximizing ‘enterprise’ value vs. ‘shareholder’ value, but in real-world practical terms it usually comes down to the same thing.

          The history goes back over 100 years, when the Dodge Brothers successfully sued Ford. Ford wanted to reinvest in building the fundamental business, while the Dodge Brothers wanted the money used to pay out dividends (for stock they held). They won.


          I worked in publicly held companies for over 30 years, and have seen the real-world ramifications of shareholders claiming that a company didn’t do everything imaginably possible to ‘maximize shareholder value.’

          As you said, it’s often the same thing, and senior management’s and shareholder’s interests could be said to be ‘aligned’ in that regard. The problem is, most of the thinking is short-term. Hedge funds don’t care about building long-term or sustainable value in a company. They want the stock price pumped up as high as possible *today*. Long-term thinking for most institutional shareholders is the end of the current quarter.

          Since most senior management’s tenure at the top is relatively short (often just a few years), they also usually have little incentive to invest for the long term. After all, their bonuses are based on current year performance, and if they’ll be gone in a couple of years, why should they diminish the value of their stock options with decisions that might not pay off for a decade?

          The problem with hyping and pumping is, eventually reality catches up to you. People like Roger Smith at GM, and Jack Welch at GE, were initially heralded as financial geniuses. But history has shown their obsession with cost-cutting and squeezing short-term profits led to long-lasting damage to their companies that they never recovered from.

          You can only kick the can down the road for so long. As Musk is finding out. Bubbles might be fun as long as they’re inflating, but not so much once they pop, and it’s awfully hard to re-inflate a bubble.

        2. Follow up: I see my previous comment is “awaiting moderation.” I see that Rob’s comment above about making thirteeen thousand dollars a month from home has somehow passed through this filter.

          I also see, in my account settings, that I have invested one hundred of my own American dollars in this website, and I wonder what the difference between my posts and Rob’s might be.

          1. Hello! This is quite frustrating and apologies for that. We are still in our “old” comment system, which doesn’t have robust spam tools. Our new system will. This “old” system can’t discern between members and non-members. The spammers are back and keep altering their message to squeeze through, which ends up putting more comments into spam. The spam filter is actually catching a lot of it, but you’re only seeing the ones that break through.

        3. And it isn’t automatically a natural law embedded in quantum physics:

          “A group representing the nation’s most powerful chief executives on Monday abandoned the idea that companies must maximize profits for shareholders above all else, a long-held belief that advocates said boosted the returns of capitalism but detractors blamed for rising inequality and other social ills.

          “In a new statement about the purpose of the corporation, the Business Roundtable, which represents the chief executives of 192 large companies, said business leaders should commit to balancing the needs of shareholders with customers, employees, suppliers and local communities.”


          P.S. Metrics. In virtually you get what you measure. It’s more than a little important to measure what’s actually important. See: Vietnam and Body Count. See also EVs and range.

  2. I’m not pissed that my Tesla now cost 3k less than when I bought it. That’s an insane thing to rationalize! Cars aren’t investments, they are (all) technology purchases. And ones greatly affected by the economy!

    What I am mad about is the idiots at the IRS that love their unions so much, they will do the single worst thing they could with the new tax credits!

    Sorry, a Wrangler hybrid isn’t an environmentally sounds choice, and one vehicle model can’t be both a car and SUV (don’t get pedantic with me…), taking a page right out of trump’s book, just make shit up as you go to please your supporters!

    My Tesla stock tanked, not because of market conditions, but because of hubris amongst the opinionated. Nothing on wall street is based on facts. They are based on statistics, which you can literally massage into any desired outcome!

    I’ll continue to enjoy my Model Y, best car I’ve ever owned, hold onto my stock, and support Tesla, as well as other companies that are truly making concerted efforts to get rid of fossil fuel powered conveyances. Ford, basically just Ford. Chevys lineup right now is an American joke.

    1. “My Tesla stock tanked, not because of market conditions, but because of hubris amongst the opinionated.”
      Sorry pal, but that’s also the reason why the stocks were inflated before

  3. Does anyone know where I can get these cheap Teslas?
    In the Toronto area the average used price is about $50k right now, about $12k less than the original price on a 5 year old car.
    Thats $2400 Canadian per year depreciation.
    On average, a new car will depreciate about $4000 per year. Under $3000 is absolutely unheard of.
    Can someone tell me where these magical cheap Teslas are? I will buy them all, bring them to Toronto and be a very rich man.

  4. As a Tesla owner myself, I would not buy another Tesla now or for the foreseeable future. The cars are really good, but the company is currently going through the awkward teenage years.

    What I say when people ask me if I like the car: The least I have to interact with the company, the more I love the car.

  5. I’ve never purchased a car with the expectation of getting anything back from it other than transportation. If I get tired of it and get something back when I sell it, great, but an investment is not something you actually use amongst the hazards of the world. An item is only worth what someone is willing do pay and just the same as Tesla stock, the market has spoken. All of this has been very predictable, much like crypto. Unsurprisingly it seems to be the same people losing their shirt on both.

    1. Lots of people make their choice in cars based on resale because it makes a huge difference in cost of ownership if you don’t plan on driving it until the wheels fall off. Compare the value of a 5 year old Toyota or Honda compared to a Dodge or Ford.

    2. On top of the issue you have of resale value being a thing that matters for your future sales value you also have to look at the financing, your asset losing 10k in value can affect that also, you might even need to get additional insurance so you don’t end up upside down.

  6. It’s going to get a lot worse over the next two years as competitive alternatives arrive in mass and Elon continues his psychological meltdown.

    You can write off the former “cool factor” of driving a Tesla in any area dominated by us left wing nut-jobs and I don’t see rural hillbilly Trump voters taking up that slack.

  7. This happens after every price cut. While 20% is particularly egregious it doesn’t change the fact that you agreed to a price and got what you paid for.

    1. Yup. And if the value of their vehicle suddenly increased by 20%, I’d bet they wouldn’t want to share any of that value with Tesla (or anyone else).

    2. I mean, no one is wrong in this, but I would still be upset if I was in that situation. Luckily, all my cars together are worth less than the larger price drops, so no problems here.

  8. I can relate to this. My 2001 Taco gains and loses value every time I fill it up at the gas station, then burn off that fuel driving it around. IT’S MADDENING!

    1. When I got rid of my old Peugeot, I got £60 in scrap value. A full tank of fuel for it was about £60. I literally doubled it’s value ,every time I filled up.

  9. I’ve started seeing clapped out Teslas in the Wal-Mart parking lot on the wrong side of the tracks in the, uh, post-industrial city where I live and that alone is enough to tell me that the brand and image are in deep trouble. No different from your sketchy E-classes and CTSes. And that must be a huge turn off for a big slice of owners or potential buyers.

    1. That’s like when the shoplifter demographic started wearing Moncler jackets in NYC and all the rich folks had to go find a new brand. Burberry had the same situation in the UK.

  10. I can understand the frustration of the person worried that if they crash they’ll owe more than they’ll get from insurance. Very small sample size though but it seems Bolt owners are pretty chill

  11. They certainly should be upset… at themselves for buying them after all of the price increases that had happened, as should all of those people who bought other vehicles with the big ADPs being stuck on by many traditional dealers. The vehicles, Tesla and non Tesla, were never worth the prices they had risen to thanks to those market conditions that most people realized would be relatively short lived.

    Personally I had planned on buying a new vehicle about the time the prices started to rise and I decided to wait rather than watch a ton of my money evaporate when the market returned to something resembling sanity. Granted some people couldn’t wait due to their car being totaled ect, but many just didn’t want to wait.

  12. It was mildly annoying that the price cut happened when it did. It was clear that a price cut was going to happen. I was just hoping it wasn’t going to happen until spring-ish so I could unload my 3 at a higher price. Oh well.

    Yes, the price cut was inevitable. I’m very certain it was planned. As all price strategies are. If you can increase price while people keep buying your product more than they ever have before, increase the price! If you can do that AND maintain a leading position in your market, great! Now that they’re in a leading position in the market, and competition is increasing, drop the price. It’s a bit of a bully move – slightly defensive, but more of a price offense than anything. It’s a good move.

    Now they need to follow up with new product to increase margins again…

  13. I mean this happens all the time with legacy brands, just people don’t realize what those deals are because every deal is unique. Cash on the hood changed monthly. Dealer willingness to discount further depends on numerous factors, including the buyer’s willingness to negotiate.

    I’m sure if some website ran a live tally of actual deals completed for say Ford F-150s, there would be a bunch of pissed off buyers who see they paid more than someone else.

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