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EV demand is so hot that Tesla owners are flipping their cars like houses

Ronald D. White, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Automotive News

Dennis Wang lost money on his first try, but then he learned from his mistakes.

On his second effort as an electric vehicle flipper, Wang made $4,000. On his third, he hit what he considered the sweet spot, a $7,000 profit. All the deals involved Teslas that Wang bought and resold, flipping them like tickets to a hot concert.

"I have a Model S currently that I'm probably going to sell within another three months, pending the market," Wang said. "I also have another Model Y and a Model X on order."

Buying and reselling stuff is as old as commerce itself, complete with cautionary tales and questionable legality. House flipping has become so alluring that multiple reality TV shows hype the process and personalities involved.

Now a new breed of flipper has emerged hoping zero emissions equal big profits. Helping them is an unusual confluence of factors plaguing EV manufacturers (supply chain problems, semiconductor shortages, unmet production goals, an emerging scarcity of lithium batteries) as well as car shoppers (record fuel prices, high used car prices, long waiting lists for electric vehicles).

Some like Wang, a 33-year-old automotive buff with mad spreadsheet skills, have learned that they can flip cars, with a recent emphasis on electric vehicles. Some EV flippers are finding buyers willing to pay sometimes exorbitant sums, tens of thousands more than the retail price, to acquire the vehicles.

 

Consider the person trying to sell a practically new 2022 Hummer EV1 for $220,000 on Facebook. It had been retailing for less than half of that, at $105,000.

Also on Facebook are two 2022 Rivian R1T electric adventure vehicles listed for $123,000 and $220,000. On the Rivian website, the same vehicle starts at $67,500. Buyers on Cars & Bids, an online auction site, could find them listed for $97,000 and $103,000. Although the more outrageous asks for double to triple the value of some EVs are either ignored or severely flamed online, some less lofty listings are having success.

Cars & Bids, for example, lists 14 recent sales of the R1T, between April 12 and June 28, for prices that ranged from $106,000 to $138,000.

In June, Tesla raised the price of its Model Y by 5%, to $65,990, but that hasn't stopped the flippers. A Model Y with less than 2,800 miles was recently up for sale on Edmunds for $70,995. Edmunds considered that a "good price," at $1,739 "below market," as in what the market says such a car is worth.

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