Tesla Makes Vaporware $35K Model 3 Special Order Only, Raises Prices With Standard Autopilot

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Tesla’s wild few months of price changes, new trim introductions/deletions, and a new Model Y crossover is coming to a head this week with another round of changes. In a blog post that went up late last night, Tesla announced that it is in effect killing the $35,000 Model 3 Standard Range that it just recently announced in February.

Tesla’s end goal with the Model 3 was always to get to the mythical $35,000 price point, and everyone thought that the time had come for the vehicle when it was made available to purchase in late February. However, customers never received the vehicles which were to have a cloth interior, a lower 220-mile range, and lack features like heated seats and power folding side mirrors.

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Tesla has now completely taken the Standard Range model off the online order sheet, although it says that customers will be able to “call us” or visit a Tesla store to order one. This seems quite odd for a company that is trying to maximize online sales, which means that the company is probably going to try to “upsell” customers into the more expensive Standard Range Plus trim level. According to Tesla, the Standard Range Plus has sold more than six times the rate of the Standard Range model.

The Model 3 Standard has its range “software reduced” by 10 percent compared to the Standard Range Plus, which checks in at 240 miles. That should put the range of the Model 3 Standard at just under 220 miles. Tesla says that customers that ordered the Model 3 Standard should start receiving their vehicles this weekend.

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Tesla is also raising prices across the board by $2,000 now that basis Autopilot functionality is included as standard equipment. Autopilot used to be a $3,000 standalone option, so this represents a $1,000 savings if you were going to purchase it anyway. But that also means that the Model 3 Standard Range Plus, which previously had a base price of $37,500 is now $39,500.

In other news, Tesla says that it has removed the option to order the online Model 3 Long Range Rear-Wheel Drive variant to simplify its lineup. Like the Model 3 Standard, it will be available to purchase over the phone or in person, although we have our doubts about how long that will actually last.

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Finally, Tesla has finally announced that it will start leasing the Model 3. Some see this as proof that Model 3 sales have fallen off a cliff and the company is looking for additional ways to boost traffic. Mileage options (annually) come in at 10,000 miles, 12,000 miles or 15,000 miles and you’re looking at a reservation fee of $2,500, a down payment of $3,000 and a monthly lease payment of $504/month for 36 months (10,000 miles/year) for a barebones Model 3 Standard Range Plus.

Needless to say, all of these constant changes in Tesla’s product lineup are getting harder to keep up with and even harder to understand. Hopefully Elon Musk and his executive team will take a breather for a while and take a more measured approach with regards to announcements.