Elon Musk didn't even know Tesla started listing new cars through a third-party | Electrek

December 3, 2023

Tesla started listing new cars through a third-party platform, cars.com, and CEO Elon Musk didn’t even know about it.

One of the main things that separate Tesla from other automakers is the fact that it sell directly to consumers.

In the US, all legacy automakers go through third-party franchise dealerships for sale and service.

Tesla built its own store and service centers that it operates itself.

The automaker has rarely diverged from that other than when it put some of its used car inventory on some third-party websites like Autotrader and cars.com.

When it comes to new cars, Tesla has only sold them through its own website and stores.

Now it looks like things are starting to change for the first time.

Internet sleuths spotted brand-new Tesla vehicles being listed on the cars.com website:

Wow — this is unprecedented.

Tesla has quietly started listing *new* vehicles on @carsdotcom.

Tesla has never sold new cars outside of its main website.

(I'm an investor in Cars dot com) pic.twitter.com/EvLGgmbR7u

— CarDealershipGuy (@GuyDealership)

The listings appear to show “new inventory” Tesla vehicles, which are sold as new with very low to no mileage.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk commented on the report of these new listings and said that he wasn’t aware of the move at Tesla:

“First I’ve heard of this. Seems odd.”

Many have reported believing that Musk is a bit disconnected with Tesla lately. For example, he also believed that Tesla’s partnership with McDonald’s on the Cyberspoon was fake even though it was very real.

Some publications are reporting this as Tesla “selling” through another party, but that’s not exactly true.

Cars.com still redirect to Tesla’s website on those listing. That’s where buyers will ultimately buy Tesla vehicles.

Top comment by BantaSarbarian

I'm not sure it's reasonable to expect that a CEO knows of every decision taken in the marketing and sales departments.

Other than their endless blathering about the "direct to consumer" model? It would be a perfectly rational decision by a sales teams being given a top-down sales target, softer demand and zero promotional budget to work with.

But it is definitely a step in that direction.

It is closer to advertising. The website is listing Tesla inventory and tracking clicks from the listings to Tesla for which the automaker likely pays a fee. Those types of websites have similar deals with car dealerships.

The move comes as Tesla started to venture into advertising for the first since its inception.

After years of not doing any advertising but plenty of marketing, Tesla started to buy some ad spaces earlier this year. This move seems to be an expansion of that change of direction.

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Elon Musk didn't even know Tesla started listing new cars through a third-party | Electrek