Tesla drops “pre-owned” just as customers were starting to own the term

Tesla’s abandonment of the term “pre-owned” comes just as you, the consumer, were starting to adopt it. It’s true. TeslaMondo talks to car customers every day. Why would you adopt such a silly euphemism? Because you don’t like the term “used” any more than car dealers do. “Used” sounds worn out at best. At worst? Contaminated.

You fear contamination. Observe yourself when you go food shopping. You park your car, walk past several available shopping carts in the parking lot, and then grab a cart that’s just inside the door. Why would you walk right past perfectly good shopping carts in the parking lot? Because they’re potentially contaminated. They might have food smeared on them. Or bodily fluids. Or some super-contagious skin disease.

But the carts inside the door have been moved by a store employee who conducts some sort of decontamination process before clearing carts for re-use. That’s what your subconscious sells you, and you actually buy it because you’re a total flake.

If you have a few hours to kill, here’s an exhaustive study on “consumer contamination.” It covers many scenarios where you subconsciously avoid “used” merchandise, or even perfectly unused merchandise that’s simply displayed too close to something like kitty litter.


So congrats, Tesla, for challenging the car-biz lexicon. But euphemisms like “pre-owned” exist for good reason. The word “used” is icky. If you’re going to sully your products with that term, at least make sure your used Teslas have no radio stations pre-set, no NAV destinations saved, no Bluetooth devices linked and no parking decals stuck to the windows. All are sickening signs of being previously-enjoyed. Uh, pre-owned. Uh, used.


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