Ford paid a $55,000 (£38,000) premium for one of the first Tesla Model X cars to roll off the production line, earning the original owner a sizable profit in the process. The original customer, 71-year-old Wayne Skiles, secured the Model X − the 64th off the production line and one of fewer than 100 exclusive Founder Series vehicles − by referring at least 10 friends to purchase a Model S. In doing so, Skiles was invited to pay $116,700 (£81,000) for the car.
Skiles, a California-based coin dealer, then immediately drove the car to a dealer in Chicago, who took it off his hands and sold it to a buyer from Ford for $199,950, well above the car's $144,950 retail price, according to vehicle registration documents seen by Bloomberg.
It is common practice for car makers to buy vehicles built by other companies, mostly to learn how they are made and what they could do to match or better them.
"I sold 11 Model Ss," Skiles said. "So I got a Founders Model X and immediately flipped it for a profit. The car never came to California. I flew to Chicago, took physical delivery of the Model X, and immediately drove it to a dealer in Chicago and sold it."
While Ford isn't yet in the market to compete directly with Tesla, it has experimented with all-electric vehicles. It currently sells an electric Ford Focus (albeit in very small numbers and at a vast premium over the regular car) and a range of petrol-electric hybrids. The company has plans to invest $4.5bn in electric vehicles by 2020, and will add 13 electric and hybrid cars to its range by the end of the decade.
According to an Electrek article written on the same vehicle before it was sold, the Model X bought by Ford had just 51 miles on the clock and is finished in glossy white. The word Founder is written on the car's side indicator repeaters and the site claims "about 60" Founder Series Model Xs were produced, with fellow owners including Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang and venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson.
Ford said in a statement: "It is a common industry practice among many automakers to buy production vehicles for testing as soon as they get released. Sometimes, this means automakers pay more than sticker price to acquire them as quickly as possible."