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David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
5/14/19 8:30 a.m.
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The recent sale of a Tesla Roadster Sport for $45,000 raised a few eyebrows here in the office. Will electric cars ever become collectible? Considering that they have more or less gone mainstream, that fact is likely inevitable.

But that Tesla sale isn’t an anomaly. In March, Bring a Trailer got $65,000 for another one.

Discuss.

Read the rest of the story

dculberson
dculberson UltimaDork
5/14/19 8:34 a.m.

$45k for a car that was $129k 10 years ago doesn't seem like an eyebrow raising amount. I wouldn't be surprised to see a 2010 Mustang GT selling for $10k. Seems about right, depreciation wise.

Man, think about that. The owner paid $129k for that car, drove it 4k miles, and sold it for $45k. That's $21/mile in depreciation. OUCH.

Also, your second link (to the $65k auction) still has the right parenthesis in it so it doesn't work. Try this: https://bringatrailer.com/listing/2011-tesla-roadster-2/

The0retical
The0retical UberDork
5/14/19 8:44 a.m.

I'm not sure they're going to be that collectable in much the same way that the original iPod or iPhone aren't "collectable".

The major issue, at the moment, is that the tech on which the vehicle has been built will slowly become obsolete. It's unlikely that they'll receive the same kind of support home hobbists provide for old electronics (at least without a right to repair law), so they're basically just planned obsolescence. Just e-waste with extra recyclables.

I'd honestly be surprised if Roadsters and early Model S's are serviceable after the next 10 years or next breakthrough in battery tech. Which ever comes first.

Yes it's possible that you can swap the batteries and hack the "ECU" like we do in modern cars, but the kind of people that collect cars typically aren't the same ones that swap flat plane Coyote engines into Miatas. Maybe 30 years from now after the obsolescence has taken it's toll, and someone wants to own the only powered Tesla Roadster in the US, but that's a long time to wait and I don't see the prices on EV-1's moving in the same fashion or receiving the same kind of love.

1988RedT2
1988RedT2 UltimaDork
5/14/19 8:54 a.m.

Too early for this crop of electrics, just typical used car prices.  Now, if you had an 1888 Flocken Elektrowagen, now that would be collectible.

Relative rarity aside, the most collectible tend to be the first and the last of a given make or model, so the early Tesla Roadster would likely be a good candidate.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
5/14/19 9:06 a.m.
The0retical said:

I'm not sure they're going to be that collectable in much the same way that the original iPod or iPhone aren't "collectable".

The major issue, at the moment, is that the tech on which the vehicle has been built will slowly become obsolete. It's unlikely that they'll receive the same kind of support home hobbists provide for old electronics (at least without a right to repair law), so they're basically just planned obsolescence. Just e-waste with extra recyclables.

I'd honestly be surprised if Roadsters and early Model S's are serviceable in the after the next 10 years or next breakthrough in battery tech. Which ever comes first.

Yes it's possible that you can swap the batteries and hack the "ECU" like we do in modern cars, but the kind of people that collect cars typically aren't the same ones that swap flat plane Coyote engines into Miatas. Maybe 30 years from now after the obsolescence has taken it's toll, and someone wants to own the only powered Tesla Roadster in the US, but that's a long time to wait and I don't see the prices on EV-1's moving in the same fashion or receiving the same kind of love.

Strongly disagree, I expect there will be companies replacement packs for these cars when the manufacturer no longer supports them, just like third-party parts manufacturers make/reman. parts for old cars now.

ShawnG
ShawnG PowerDork
5/14/19 9:23 a.m.

No matter how strange, awful or ugly it is. There will be someone out there who loves it.

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
5/14/19 9:30 a.m.
ShawnG said:

No matter how strange, awful or ugly it is. There will be someone out there who loves it.

Yup.  Someone will always want one, and by that simple request, it will be collectable.

The0retical
The0retical UberDork
5/14/19 9:39 a.m.

In reply to GameboyRMH :

I expect so, the question is how long that manufacturing capacity will hold out after the rest of the industry moves on? Making batteries is messy and expensive, even at scale it's expensive.

What happens if LG moves away from pouch cells to sticks or Panasonic moves from sticks to moldable solid state and stops producing the cells? The aftermarket will need to reengineer an entire battery solution for a handful of cars, which while possible, is prohibitively expensive for most companies for the foreseeable future. The main sticking point is that aftermarket battery refurbishers currently rely on these OE manufacturers as the source for the cells that they're remanning. Aftermarket companies would need to either purchase the tooling and production capacity to continue to build the cells or build their own cell producing factories, and supply lines, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Coupled with the strong possibility that, given the state of right to repair here in the US, Tesla will at some-point DRM it's battery packs (not to mention already remotely locks the ECU of the cars on the secondary market), you're looking at a lot of work and expense. That puts a serious damper on the desire and ability of most people to collect something like this.

Someone will want it I'm sure, but they're not the same kind of durable good as an air cooled 911 or current GT-3. At least not at the moment.

STM317
STM317 UltraDork
5/14/19 9:57 a.m.

Never doubt society's ability to be stupid with money.

dculberson
dculberson UltimaDork
5/14/19 10:01 a.m.

@The0retical: The cells in a Tesla are an industry standard cell type. There's no way you won't be able to get them in 10 years like you claimed. You can still get lantern batteries - when's the last time you bought something that used those? The Roadster uses 18650 cells which are made in the millions (or billions?) now and I guarantee you they'll be made in the millions in 2029.

The worry about DRM batteries certainly doesn't apply to any of the vehicles discussed here.

dculberson
dculberson UltimaDork
5/14/19 10:02 a.m.
STM317 said:

Never doubt society's ability to be stupid with money.

I would certainly argue that this statement applies to most collector cars. There's no reason in the world for an aircooled 911 to be worth 6 figures.

The0retical
The0retical UberDork
5/14/19 11:11 a.m.

In reply to dculberson :

I'm well aware of what a 18650 is and their relative price. I'm also well aware of the current capacity constraints facing the entire industry at the moment and how hard it has been to scale battery production to meet an affordable price point and provide the energy density required to actually make a usable EV.

The Roadsters 3.0 (80 KWh) battery retrofit was 3 years ago and cost $29,000 dollars. Tesla actually lost money on that and stated that they were having trouble producing the housings and PEM for the new packs due to tooling constraints. Even with the retrofit, these cars exist in that arena where parts make them are pretty cost prohibitive to own. That's again due to the current production limitations of not only cells but electronics required to manage them. If you have enough money laying around I can name several contract manufacturers who will build the control modules required. That severely limits the appeal to most people and puts them in the same realm as a Veyron et.al to keep them on the road. There's a market but it's a small one.

I still feel that current gen EV's are moving towards the planned obsolescence model like a most other consumer grade electronics.

A battery chemistry breakthrough might get you the same packaging as the 18650. Or it might not.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not against EV's but they're still nascent and low production. The fact that they don't currently have a deep common parts bin or a super inexpensive method of reproducing complex parts yet severely hampers the ability to keep them as a "car."

I'd probably feel a bit differently if the major players could standarize the freaking plug and charging system at least.

dculberson
dculberson UltimaDork
5/14/19 11:21 a.m.

In reply to The0retical :

I'm just not sure why you would need a whole "retrofit" or replacement housings and PEM in keeping an old car on the road. Few people look for replacements of whole assemblies on old collectible cars, they replace bad components. Same deal with a battery pack. Bad cells can be - and are - replaced all the time at marginal cost. 18650s may be difficult for manufacturers to get in the quantities they need but I can order as many as I could practically use off eBay, Amazon, etc. right now and I am willing to bet I will be able to do so in 10 years.

The retrofit was more for people using the cars as daily drivers, and looking to extend their range, I'm sure. Not really applicable to the collector car market.

Veyrons are very expensive to keep on the road, yes. But are you saying they can't be collector cars? That claim would seem farcical. They're pretty much already collector cars. They'll always be worth millions. Cost to maintain has very little to do with collectible status.

ShawnG
ShawnG PowerDork
5/14/19 11:23 a.m.

And I restore cars for a living.

Pete Gossett
Pete Gossett MegaDork
5/14/19 11:27 a.m.
alfadriver said:
ShawnG said:

No matter how strange, awful or ugly it is. There will be two people out there who loves it.

Yup.  Someone will always want one, and by that simple request, it will be collectable.

 

dculberson
dculberson UltimaDork
5/14/19 11:29 a.m.

In reply to ShawnG :

I love that comic.

The0retical
The0retical UberDork
5/14/19 11:30 a.m.

In reply to dculberson :

We're delving into what constitutes a car as opposed to a museum piece at this point, which is kind of where I was going with this in a round about manner.

Someone will want them. People collect rocks, every generation of Apple electronics, and dead bugs. So yes, just about anything can considered be a collectable, EV's included.

I have the same view of these types of things as cars with 8 miles on them that continuously change hands. They're a speculative investment vehicle rather than a car because, at that point, they're no different than a collectable plate. (Is it really a plate if you can't eat off it? Or is it a picture painted on a round porcelain medium? Schrodinger's collectibles.)

The people that can afford to keep them as a "car" are going to be the same ones that buy a Veyron or other vehicles that exist in the upper strata of collectable cars. These aren't the type of buyers who purchase a Model 3, Model S, Bolts, Leafs, 500e's, eGolfs, or other early generation EV's as a long term investment.

The Roadster, maybe, just for it's providence as a semi-exotic early gen EV, but I highly doubt many other cars of the current generation will be considered collectables. Which is what the initial question was about.

I'd bet the Porsche eMission (Taycan?) will find itself as a collectable eventually. That's just Porsche things though. Maybe a Rimac as well.

ebonyandivory
ebonyandivory PowerDork
5/14/19 11:31 a.m.

I can be short-sighted and equally narrow-minded but I really enjoy myself watching and listening to 426 Hemi’s, Boss 429’s Cobra Jets, all GM small and big blocks from the 60’s and 70’s leaving a car show and smelling the racing gas fumes and cannot fathom ever being interested in watching a 49-50 year old EV silently whirring away.

ebonyandivory
ebonyandivory PowerDork
5/14/19 11:34 a.m.
ShawnG said:

And I restore cars for a living.

Hobbies aren’t supposed to be useful. Just enjoyable. Jokes need to not totally miss the point to be funny.

Robbie
Robbie UltimaDork
5/14/19 11:38 a.m.
ShawnG said:

And I restore cars for a living.

That's exactly right. I find I collect many different types of garbage. Not just cars.

nderwater
nderwater UltimaDork
5/14/19 12:56 p.m.

Baker's have been collectable for a while now:

red_stapler
red_stapler SuperDork
5/14/19 1:06 p.m.
alfadriver said:
ShawnG said:

No matter how strange, awful or ugly it is. There will be someone out there who loves it.

Yup.  Someone will always want one, and by that simple request, it will be collectable.

And the Lane Museum will have two of them somehow.

ShawnG
ShawnG PowerDork
5/14/19 1:22 p.m.

In reply to nderwater :

We have a Detroit Electric, very similar to a Baker.

We also have a H.A. Moyer, it's a hybrid from 1913.

nimblemotorsports
nimblemotorsports New Reader
5/14/19 2:10 p.m.

Sure they are collectable.  If the question is more 'will they increase in value'  then the answer is probably NO.

The people who will have disposable income in the future are not into cars like the ones today.   

What will a 50 year old born in 1990 want to buy in 2040?  Not a car is a good bet.

Bob_Wanner
Bob_Wanner New Reader
5/14/19 4:56 p.m.

This original Tesla Roadster is a TSLA drivetrain in a Lotus Elise chassis. It is the first Tesla , the first real sports E car, and can be updated to better performance . Whenever the new Tesla sports car actually happens, it will cost a bit more than this car. The question might be , what will the value of ICE cars be in 20 years when everything is E powered? At under $50K, it was well bought. 

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