Whereas the Model S starts at $75,000 for the based 70D model and can top $108,000 for the high performance P90D, the more plebian Model III will start at just $35,000 before any incentives are applied. "We can confirm it's $35,000 before incentives," confirmed a Tesla spokeswoman early last month. "We haven't changed our minds."
As we’ve stated before, that $35,000 price will likely be as hard to find as a unicorn when the Model III first hits American streets. Tesla is looking to recoup its development dollars as quickly as possible, so we should expect to see more feature-packed and expensive trims available at launch, while the entry-level, bone stock trims will likely come at a later date.
Regardless of how expensive the Model III will be at launch, there is the potential for some really big savings in the form of federal tax credits and state tax credits/rebates. Using the state of Colorado as an example, qualifying customers would be eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit and a $6,000 state tax credit. For a $35,000 Model III, that would make for an effective price of $21,500. Even if we were to consider a hypothetical mid-range Model III priced at around $45,000, $31,500 after state and federal tax credits sounds quite palatable to our taste buds.
The Model III has been promised to have a driving range of greater than 200 miles per charge, which would put it in direct competition with the similarly priced Chevrolet Bolt ($37,500 before federal tax credit). However, we have the feeling the Model III will look far better than the homely Bolt if its past vehicles are any indication of the new vehicle’s design direction.
Production of the Model III, which is expected to start in 2017, and its relatively low pricing is dependent on Tesla’s multi-billion dollar Gigafactory coming online and operating at peak efficiency. The Gigafactory, which is being built and operated in conjunction with Panasonic, will produce the lithium-ion battery packs for all of Tesla’s current and future EVs.