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If you want Tesla’s Cybertruck, make sure to read the fine print

Published Nov 13th, 2023 7:38PM EST
Tesla Cybertruck
Image: Tesla

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Update: Tesla has officially removed any reference regarding initiating litigation against Cybertruck owners who resell the vehicle without express permission.

After years of anticipation, Tesla’s Cybertruck is finally slated for an extremely limited release on November 30th. Full production on the somewhat futuristic vehicle will likely begin later next year. And because supply will be limited early on, Tesla isn’t keen on users reselling the vehicle.

To this end, if you’re planning on buying Tesla’s Cybertruck, you might want to pay close attention to the fine print. A since-deleted update to the company’s terms of service relayed that owners are prohibited from re-selling the truck without Tesla’s permission. What’s more, the update indicated that Cybertruck owners who don’t follow Tesla’s resale guidelines might be subject to a $50,000 lawsuit.

The provision reads in part:

You understand and acknowledge that the Cybertruck will first be released in limited quantity. You agree that you will not sell or otherwise attempt to sell the Vehicle within the first year following your Vehicle’s delivery date. Notwithstanding the foregoing, if you must sell the Vehicle within the first year following its delivery date for any unforeseen reason, and Tesla agrees that your reason warrants an exception to its no reseller policy, you agree to notify Tesla in writing and give Tesla reasonable time to purchase the Vehicle from you at its sole discretion and at the purchase price listed on your Final Price Sheet less $0.25/mile driven, reasonable wear and tear, and the cost to repair the Vehicle to Tesla’s Used Vehicle Cosmetic and Mechanical Standards.

If Tesla declines to purchase your Vehicle, you may then resell your Vehicle to a third party only after receiving written consent from Tesla. You agree that in the event you breach this provision, or Tesla has reasonable belief that you are about to breach this provision, Tesla may seek injunctive relief to prevent the transfer of title of the Vehicle or demand liquidated damages from you in the amount of $50,000 or the value received as consideration for the sale or transfer, whichever is greater. Tesla may also refuse to sell you any future vehicles.

The section referencing the potential lawsuit has been removed, but the section granting Tesla a first right of refusal remains. Put simply, Cybertruck resellers will need Tesla’s permission to sell the truck within the first year of ownership.

Why is Tesla playing hardball?

There are a few theories as to why Tesla is playing hardball with respect to resales. One proffered theory is that the company wants to prevent rivals from getting their hands on it and reverse engineering certain aspects. This seems unlikely, given that competitive research in the automotive industry is the norm.

A more plausible theory is that because the Cybertruck will be in limited supply at launch, Tesla simply wants to ensure that early buyers will be authentic buyers as opposed to users who may potentially want to resell it for a profit.

Incidentally, strict provisions regarding automotive resale are rare but not unprecedented. Other automakers have implemented similar provisions in recent years. You might recall that Ford sued John Cena a few years ago for selling his 2017 GT Supercar.

At the time, Ford said:

After being selected from thousands of applicants for the opportunity to purchase the Ford GT, Mr. Cena flipped his vehicle shortly after taking delivery of it, despite his agreement with Ford to maintain ownership of the vehicle for 24 months.

That case was ultimately settled.

Tesla’s somewhat unusual contract terms aside, the specs on the Cybertruck are intriguing. It has up to 3,500 pounds of payload capacity and up to 500 miles of range. Speed-wise, it can go from 0-60 MPH in as little as 2.9 seconds. It can also tow an impressive 14,000 pounds, though leaked specs indicate this might be 11,000 pounds.

Aesthetically, Tesla’s Cybertruck is remarkably unique and looks like nothing else on the market. It remains to be seen if this ultimately helps or hurts initial sales.

Tesla’s Cybertruck delivery event is slated to take place at the company’s Gigafactory in Austin, Texas on November 30.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.

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