In February, Tesla delivered on its long-awaited promise of offering a $35,000 Model 3. Named the Standard Range, the car finally went on sale to give fans the most-affordable option possible. On Thursday, Tesla announced it's making that car much harder to buy.
The electric car maker has removed the $35,000 Model 3 from its website for buyers to order and announced the Standard Range is now a "software-limited" variant of the Standard Plus. The latter was announced alongside the Model 3 Standard Range as a $37,500 car with 240 miles of range compared to the base car's 220-mile range. According to Tesla's data, the Standard Plus outsold the $35,000 base car by a ratio of 6:1. Thus, the decision was made to basically dissuade buyers from ordering the cheapest model.
2019 Tesla Model 3 Performance
Buyers can still order the cheapest Model 3 via a phone order or at a physical Tesla store. However, without the model listed on the website, Tesla is keeping customers in the dark about its availability. Tesla added the revised Standard Range has a 10-percent reduction in range from the Standard Plus model and several normally standard options are disabled to keep the price down. Buyers can activate them (and essentially convert the car into a Standard Plus Model 3) at any time. Conversely, buyers can also downgrade to the Standard Range car whenever he or she desires and Tesla will refund the price difference.
2018 Tesla Model 3 Long-Range RWD
In addition to the Model 3 trim changes, the company said Autopilot is now standard on every car it sells. The company pitched the change as an added value since, for example, the $37,500 Model 3 Standard Plus required an extra $3,000 to add Autopilot. Now, the car will cost $39,500, effectively making Autopilot a $2,000 premium built into the price. That likely puts the Model 3 Standard Range's price at about $37,000 or possibly $38,000.
Finally, leasing has come to the Model 3. Tesla said the option to lease a Model 3 is now open to U.S. customers with a small down payment and competitive monthly payments. Annual mileage options include 10,000, 12,000, or 15,000 miles for the lease term. Jumping to the automaker's official website shows some rather unimpressive terms. A Standard Range Plus Model 3 without any options nets a $504 per month payment for 36 months, 10,000 miles, and $3,000 down. The company might be playing it fast and loose with the word "competitive."
Lessees interested in a dual-motor Long Range Model 3 can easily find themselves with a $700 per month lease payment.
There's also a catch to Model 3 leasing. Lessees will not be able to purchase the car at the end of the lease period. Instead, Tesla said it wants to use the cars as part of a future ride-hailing network as it works on self-driving cars.