Tesla No Longer Selling $35,000 Model 3 Standard Range Online

No $35,000
Tesla Model 3 on display (Photo: Tesla)

The be all and end all of Tesla's expensive development effort for the Model 3 -- the $35,000 Model 3 Standard Range (Model 3 SR) -- has just gone poof!

Tesla has announced it's ending sales of the $35,000 Model 3 online. This electric vehicle (EV), which some analysts were never thrilled about because how can a luxury sedan cost only $35,000, will instead only be available over the phone or at Tesla showrooms.

The move to make the Model 3SR available only during face-to-face interactions between customers and Tesla sales staff is a smart move on Tesla's part. It gives Tesla's marketing people a chance to up-sell buyers on other expensive extras that significantly boost the EV's performance and its price.

Deliveries of Model 3 SR began last weekend. Fully 78 percent of Model 3 SRs sold to date were sold online.

The Model 3 SR has a range of 220 miles, cloth interior, and manually adjusted seats, among other cost-saving specs. Now, the Model 3 SR Plus model features a more premium interior and a battery with a software range limitation. All these extras come at an added cost, of course.

Tesla said all its EVs now come with Autopilot bundled as a standard feature for less than the prior cost of the option. It said the Model 3 Standard Plus used to cost $37,500, plus $3,000 for the Autopilot option. It now costs $39,500 with Autopilot included.

Tesla notes that with Autopilot, the chance of an accident is much lower when Autopilot is enabled. Autopilot also dramatically also improves the quality of the driving experience, especially in heavy traffic.

Tesla said that starting April 11, customers in the U.S. will be able to lease the Model 3 for a small down payment and competitive monthly payments. Customers can choose any Model 3 variant and select an annual mileage option of 10,000, 12,000, or 15,000 miles.

Customers that choose to lease over owning, however, won't have the option to purchase their car at the end of the lease, because these leased EVs will be used by Tesla for its upcoming ride-hailing network.

During the first quarter, Tesla introduced two new Model 3 variants with more competitive pricing - the SR and SR Plus. It said SR Plus has sold at more than six times the rate of SR, far exceeding its expectations.

The Model 3 Standard will now be a software-limited version of the Standard Plus, and Tesla is removing it from its online ordering menu.

Its range will be limited by 10%, and several features will be disabled via software (including onboard music streaming service, navigation with live traffic visualization, and heated seats). SR customers will have the option to upgrade to an SR Plus at any time.

Also starting April 11, customers will also need to call or visit a Tesla store to get the Model 3 Long Range Rear-Wheel Drive.

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