Tesla and Time Arbitrage

It was six months from the order to ownership of the new Tesla. That’s very different than other makes. I can’t just walk into a Tesla dealership and drive out in my new car. Six months is a long time! A couple months in, I wanted to change the color. That would have meant going to the back of the line. Not worth it!

I strongly considered upgrading to a higher-level model and paying several thousand dollars more just so I could get it a few months earlier (the higher the level, the shorter the queue).

Mrs. Muttrox put in an order last week. It won’t be ready until January of 2023, ten months away! We’d definitely pay some extra money to get it tomorrow.

What we’re seeing here is the value of time. Like Disney World, the currency of time has real value. People will pay extra to reduce wait times. Particularly people with the means of your average Tesla owner.

That leads to the arbitrage opportunity:

Find the best selling Tesla model and options. Order five of them. Wait the many months. Pay for them (yikes, I could have gottten a house instead!), drive them home. Congratulations, you now own five new Teslas that you don’t want. Now turn around and sell them. Find some Tesla buyers who will gladly pay you full price for a brand new Tesla. Full price, plus several thousand dollars tacked on for the convenience of getting it today instead of ten months from now.

Could this work? Is it happening already?

2 thoughts on “Tesla and Time Arbitrage”

  1. Wow. $7,000 profit after driving it for 17,000 miles? That’s the the time payoff for sure. I’m browsing around their website, and the used ones are far more expensive than new ones — but you can get them now.

  2. I feel like I kind of did this experiment by accident. Bought a 2020 model 3, drove it 17,000 miles, turned around and sold it for $7000 more than I paid for it. I think a big part of that is the fact that the buyer didn’t have to wait at all.

    Also, I suspect the value somewhat would be correlated with the price difference of electricity and gasoline. So even though gasoline is most expensive in California, electricity is as well. It might not be as valuable here as it is in a place like Washington state, where gas is expensive, but where they have really cheap hydroelectric power (an employee of mine pays 2.4 cents kWh in Wenatchee, Washington).

    Also, taxes. That potentially might mess with the value here a bit.

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