The BitCoin Model S (Photo from Lamborghini Newport Beach)

‘Bitcoin’ Tesla Model S: Here’s How It Was Really Paid For

Remember the story about the anonymous Internet buyer who purchased a used Tesla Model S from a Lamborghini Dealership in California last week? The one where the the guy paid for his new all-electric sedan with BitCoins?

The BitCoin Model S (Photo from Lamborghini Newport Beach)

The BitCoin Model S… Or was it? (Photo from Lamborghini Newport Beach)

It certainly sounded plausible: a bitcoin millionaire who decided to splash out on a super-sexy, all-electric Tesla. But despite initial reports which said the transition for the car was carried out in bitcoins, it turns out that while the dealership may have been asked by the buyer to accept bitcoin payment for the car, the actual transition was carried out in cold, hard, U.S. Dollars.

Or at least, the garage thinks it was, because the transition was a little more complicated than was initially thought.

As CNBC reports (Via Autobloggreen) the money given to the garage in exchange for the Model S was U.S. dollars, paid into the dealership’s U.S. dollar bank account.  You see, in this instance the dealership dealt with the purchase exactly as if the buyer was trying to pay for a car using foreign currency: they made him use a currency exchange service first.

According to the dealership’s general manager Pietro Frigerio, the dealership never took ownership of any bitcoins. Instead, he told CNBC, the two parties used BitPay, an intermediary exchange service designed to allow businesses to accept bitcoin payments for goods and services without actually having to deal with the digital currency themselves. The customer pays BitPay — which takes a small commissioning fee for the service — and BitPay transfer the recipient’s chosen currency direct into their bank account.

“The transition in our bank account, we received a wire in U.S. dollars,” he said. “So you could say that I didn’t want bictoins. And I never touched bitcoins.”

Frigerio’s version of events seems a little more down-to-earth than that of his colleague and marketing director for the dealership, who told Bloomberg last week that the transition had occured in Bitcoins before being translated into U.S. dollars.  But we’re guessing that the marketing hype — not to mention free publicity — was just too much for the Californian dealer to miss out on.

We’ve seen quite a few sites rerun this story, correcting their earlier coverage. But from where we’re sitting, both stories are technically correct, because both buyer and seller saw the transition in the currency they wanted to use. The buyer did pay for the car in Bitcoins, and the dealership received U.S. dollars for it.

Either way, we think the differentiation between who payed what in which currency is a little like splitting hairs. The transition was partly carried out in a digital currency, something we still think is pretty cool.

I wonder if we could pay for a Tesla using another virtual currency in a similar manner. Which got us thinking: what would you like to exchange or barter in order to get behind the wheel of a Tesla Model S?

Leave your thoughts — serious and otherwise — in the Comments below.


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  • Mark Chatterley

    I need to get me some bitcoins when it crashes next!

    • Michael Thwaite

      Become a miner, I’ve unearthed 15 bit-cents so far, wohoo! There’s gold in them there hashes!

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