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Tesla Certified Pre-Owned Program Gives Customers Better-Specced Cars Than Advertised

Wether it’s a free upgrade on a long-haul flight, a free upgrade to the latest and greatest laptop computer when you send yours in for repair, or that free coffee from your local friendly barista because you’re such a regular customer: everyone enjoys getting more than they paid for.

Buying a certified pre-owned Tesla Model S? You may get unexpected extras.

Buying a certified pre-owned Tesla Model S? You may get unexpected extras.

Here at Transport Evolved, we’ll admit to having received all of the above perks, either because we’re just really lucky or perhaps we’re just too nice to be mean to. But our list of free upgrades and unexpected bonuses pails into insignificance against a handful of lucky Tesla customers who have found unexpected extras on cars they’ve ordered via Tesla’s certified pre-owned program.

As the folks over at Electrek note, there’s a small but growing group of used Tesla Model S customers who are finding that the cars they’ve ordered via Tesla Motors [NASDAQ:TSLA] certified pre-owned program are better than they were advertised online.

Several customers report their Certified Pre-Owned Teslas are better than listed — but they’re not complaining!

One owner by the name of ‘Father Bill’ on the Tesla Motors Club reported picking up his preowned 2013 Tesla Model S to find out that it had a full carbon-fibre interior, despite being listed on Tesla’s certified pre-owned website as having a piano black interior.  Another — by the forum name of ‘Drucifer’ — reported that his certified pre-owned Model S came with a parcel shelf, accent lighting, fog lights and alcantara headlining. None of those features were detailed on the car’s certified pre owned listing.

Another found that the car she ordered — a Tesla Model S 85 — turned out to be a Tesla Model S P85 on delivery, a difference worth more than $10,000 list price when the car was new.

Post-purchase Tesla upgrades aren't new and date back to Roadster Days

Post-purchase Tesla upgrades aren’t new and date back to Roadster Days

But perhaps the best ‘free’ upgrade we’ve heard of comes from an owner who ordered a Signature P85 via the Tesla Certified Pre-Owned program to discover that it had been upgraded to a P85+ at some point in its history. In addition to getting the upgraded car — far more powerful and higher-spec than it would have been when new — the owner noted that the car did not have the spoiler it was listed by Tesla as having.

Tesla, in its usual high-value customer service way, swiftly added a spoiler to his car at no extra cost.

It’s not clear quite why Tesla’s certified pre-owned inventory seems to be at odds with the actual cars being sold to customers, but just like Electrek, we suspect the issue lies not with an inability to correctly list certified per-owned models, but the way in which Tesla is recalling production data for each vehicle.

Unlike other automakers, Tesla Motors offers customers the option of upgrading their cars post-purchase with additional features or option packs. When Tesla produced the Roadster two-seat electric sports car, these upgrades included allowing customers full interior or entertainment package upgrades to ensure early Roadsters were compliant with the latest production specifications. Even today, Roadster owners can upgrade their cars to the latest Tesla Roadster 2.5 specification for extra cost, and later this year Tesla will offer a further upgrade package in the form of the Roadster 3.0 upgrade for improved range and handling.

'Free' CPO upgrades range from an interior extra to performance upgrade.

‘Free’ CPO upgrades range from an interior extra to performance upgrade.

Owners of the Model S can upgrade their cars too post-purchase, adding in larger battery packs or performance tweaks. This means a car that rolled off the production line as a Model S 60 can be converted into a Tesla Model S 85 by a Tesla service centre, or a Tesla Model S 85 can be given the performance upgrade to make it a Tesla Model S P85 or P85+ for the right amount of cash.

Or in other words, a car which rolled off the production line at Tesla’s Fremont facility might no-longer be the same specification it once was. And since we’ve never heard of anyone downgrading their car’s specification, it means that cars are equal or better than first produced.

If we had to guess, we’d say Tesla is using its original production logs to list cars sold through its certified pre-owned program rather than delving through the list of upgrades each has been given over time. Since most certified pre-owned cars will still be stock, it’s a logical and time-saving measure too.

For the lucky few, it means that they’re getting a surprise upgrade.

As some commentators and owners note, the unexpected upgrades are no doubt costing Tesla some money, since cars are being valued bashed on their new specification rather than upgraded one. Since most certified pre-owned models are cars which are no-longer made by Tesla and which have been superseded by better-equipped models, we think Tesla is choosing to give away those unexpected extras and benefit from the positive publicity than wait around for someone willing to pay a little more.

Do you agree? And have you just purchased a used certified pre-owned Model S with more features than you thought it had?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.


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  • Dennis Pascual

    Being a co-owner of a CPO Roadster and a new, when purchased, Model S, I can attest that Tesla does treat its customers like kings. We didn’t get any of the really awesome upgrades that the CPO Model S owners received on our Roadster, but do get the great service with Tesla, regardless whether we bring the Roadster or the Model S in for their assistance.

  • The P85+ wasn’t more powerful than the P85 was it? I know it cost more but thought it was a suspension/wheels/tyre package mainly.

    • Kirk Hilles

      No, as I remember, the P (for “Performance”) had increased power and acceleration.

  • JP

    ” This means a car that rolled off the production line as a Model S 60
    can be converted into a Tesla Model S 85 by a Tesla service centre”

    I don’t believe this is true other than a single example, David Noland from Green Car Reports. I don’t think Tesla will do a 60 to 85 pack upgrade any longer.

    • Joe

      I had the same thought, JP. Does anyone else know of any examples of a Tesla battery upgrade aside from David Noland’s? One example is enough to make Nikki’s statement true, of course, but I’m curious about whether this is more common than I thought.

  • Yogi baba

    Tesla is getting desperate to get some cash in. They will take whatever people throw at them. They have tens of thousands of inventory+used cars sitting around at various places around the world, rotting, depreciating. Throw them a dime, will you? Help them out.
    Today Tesla also sent out SOS emails to those who test drove the car in the past, about their CPO cars. It shows how desperate they have become to get some cash before the quarter ends in June.

    • JP

      Complete lies you’re spreading, and no on believes you.

    • Kirk Hilles

      LOL. The cheapest CPO models they have literally sell within days of their listing. Demand is quite high. Tesla has more money than they’ll need for quite some time.

  • Maxwell Erickson

    Weren’t all Signature P85s actually P85+es?

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