Picking a Car
I’m not going to lie. When I started looking for a car to buy, there was only one car I REALLY wanted.
The Tesla Model X.
Look at that big, beautiful, sexy SUV. The black-on-black-on-black color scheme, both inside and out. The cool falcon wing doors. The hum of the electric motor as it bolts off the line as soon as you touch the pedal.
I really, really wanted that car.
I spent hours customizing the options, playing with the configuration, trying to decide how many seats it should have and whether I should pay the extra money to get black rims or not. I looked at different paint schemes, all white leather interior, and whether I should get a 75kwh battery or a 100kwh battery.
At the end of it all, I had finally decided on a configuration that was north of $100,000. $114,750 to be exact, and that’s before tax, title, and fees. I went through financing and took a look at the payments each month. I’d be on the hook for just over $2,000 each month between the loan and insurance payments.
Then, I put together a spreadsheet and evaluated the how much I needed to make on a per-mile basis so that the Model X would cost me nothing. The short answer was that I needed to limit the number of miles someone could drive the Model X to 150 miles per day and charge $220 per day. I’d have to have the car rented for a minimum of 10 days a month, which didn’t seem like that much, but I prefer to have a bigger buffer than that.
After doing a lot of introspection over the course of a week, I came to the conclusion that the Tesla Model X was just too much to take on, especially since I have no experience working with Turo. I just wasn’t ready to commit to that level of risk just yet. I could have handled the payments if things came up short, but I didn’t want to risk THAT much. I had a bit of a talk with myself and got my head out of the clouds, because this side hustle all depends on making the numbers work, and making the numbers work for the Model X was going to be too much of a challenge at this point in time.
I went back to the drawing board.
If I was going to do this, I was going to do everything I could to make it a success. I started researching what other Turo hosts were doing. I searched day and night for any shred of evidence I could find on how to be successful using apps like Turo and Getaround as a host. I was trying to answer questions like “How do I create a successful listing?” and “What kind of car should I buy?”. I found some help, but ultimately, the lack of material out there is what inspired me to start this website.
Besides the articles on Turo’s blog and Business Insider, these were the most helpful posts I found:
While reading these articles, I also evaluated my situation to see what I could do differently. There were a few things that stood out to me:
- I proved I can get a large loan (over $100,000) on a car if needed as I got approval from a bank already for the Tesla Model X, so I could choose almost ANY car I wanted.
- I ride a bicycle to work, so I don’t actually need a car, unless I’m taking my dog to the vet, which should only happen 1-2 times per year.
- I have enough money saved up that I could provide a large down payment on a car, which could help bring the monthly payments down quite a bit.
With all of that in mind, I took a few pieces of advice I found and came up with a plan. The plan looked about like this:
- Buy a used car (2-3 years old) as it has already taken the depreciation hit.
- Make sure the car has a relatively low number of miles (less than 30,000).
- Buy a car that needed as little maintenance as possible.
- Pick a make that is “high end”, like Porsche or Mercedes.
With this criteria in mind, I thought about all of the electric vehicles on the market, and every time I thought about them, I kept coming back to Tesla. Tesla has the supercharging network, so charging could be free. There is already at least one case of a Tesla Model S being driven over 300,000 miles, so reliability shouldn’t be an issue. Tesla is also thought of as a “sexy” company, so marketing the vehicle shouldn’t be as big of a deal. I also worked for Tesla for 3 years on the team responsible for Tesla.com, so I knew they had a used inventory section.
I decided to go for it.
I poked around the used inventory website and found a bunch of used Model S’s and maybe one Model X every time I looked. If I was going to get a deal, the Model S was going to be the way to go. I scoured the used section day after day, waiting for the deal to pop up, and it finally did. I found a black 2015 Tesla Model S 85D, with black leather seats, tan headliner, and about 28,300 miles on the odometer for $55,900. Other cars that were similarly specced either had 10,000-15,000 more miles, cost at least $8,000 more, or both, which ate into the profitability. At that point, I had made up my mind and just had to acquire it. I put in my reservation deposit and picked up the car less than a week later. Here’s what I picked up:
It’s kind of weird having worked for the company that built the car I now own, especially having worked there in the factory where the car was built when the car was built. It’s like life came full circle in a weird way.