For years, the biggest headline about the Tesla Model 3 was its $35,000 starting price.
Just a few weeks ago, Tesla finally rolled out the Standard Range Tesla Model 3 with its almost-mythical $35,000 price tag. While the more expensive versions were the first on sale, some were starting to wonder whether Tesla would introduce the entry-level variant at all. Finally, they did, but now there’s a new catch. The Standard Range is no longer available to order on Tesla’s website.
Now, this is the screen you’re greeted to when you go to order a Model 3. There are just the Standard Range Plus, Long Range and Performance options. Don’t be fooled by that “$31,450*” figure, either — that’s after applicable incentives.
Tesla announced some changes to its lineup in a recent blog post. From there, they announced changes to “simplify” vehicle choices, which meant dropping the Standard Range from the lineup. To justify that decision, Tesla said it the Standard Plus sold “at more than six times the rate of Standard, far exceeding our expectations. Another important change centers around Autopilot. When you previously went to order a Tesla Model 3, Autopilot was a $3,000 option. Now it’s a standard feature across the range, but you know where that’s going.
To compensate making Autopilot standard, the Standard Range Plus version is now more expensive. Rather than $37,500, the cheapest Tesla Model 3 now costs $39,500 before incentives. As an explanation for making the feature standard, Tesla stated, “We think including Autopilot is very important because our data strongly indicates that the chance of an accident is much lower when Autopilot is enabled.”
You can still buy a Standard, but it’s not as easy
From this point forward, Tesla is making the Standard a “software-limited version” of the Standard Range Plus. Customers will need to call Tesla directly or visit a Tesla store to get the baseline Model 3. Those who already ordered a Standard version will see deliveries starting this weekend, according to the blog post.
New “Standard” customers will have their range limited by 10% via software. Beyond that, features like Tesla’s music streaming service, navigation and heated seats will be disabled. However, you can upgrade to the Standard Plus at any time, so long as you pay the price difference. You can also downgrade to the Standard and get a refund for the difference in cost, should you choose.
Careful if you lease
Tesla also changed its leasing policy effective today. U.S. customers will be able to lease the Model 3 for a “small down payment”, as you normally would. Like normal leases, customers have the option to choose a 10,000, 12,000 or 15,000 mile annual allotment.
However, if you do go this route, you will not be able to buy it outright at the end of the lease. Tesla plans to use leased Model 3s in its future ride-hailing network. On that basis, customers will have to turn over their cars when their lease term expires.
It’s not just the Standard
If you were looking for a rear-wheel drive Long Range Model 3, you’ll also have to contact a Tesla store. That means the only options available online are the rear-wheel drive Standard Range Plus, or the all-wheel drive Long Range or Performance.
Some may welcome Tesla’s actions in simplifying the lineup, as it makes things easier to choose when ordering online. Even still, customers who really want the options Tesla dropped on its website can get them. If you want one of those models, you’ll just need to do a bit more legwork to get it.
Speaking of the Model 3, check out our new “Thrifty 3” series below!