Tesla’s $35k Model 3 lives on, even if $39.5k Standard Plus hits ‘sweet spot’ for buyers

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has stated that while the $35,000 Standard Model 3 is currently an off-menu item, the vehicle will continue to be offered as an option for electric car buyers. Addressing the vehicle during the Q1 2019 earnings call, Elon Musk noted that the $35,000 version “is there and will remain there,” though ordering one will require buyers to call Tesla or visit one of its stores.

Despite the extra steps required to order the Model 3 Standard, Elon Musk maintained that customers won’t need to go through an “obstacle course” just to acquire the vehicle. The Tesla CEO also mentioned that so far, orders for the 240-mile Standard Plus variant, which costs $39,500 and comes bundled with Autopilot, have far outnumbered the orders for the Model 3’s base version.

Part of the reason behind the relatively low orders for the $35,000 Model 3 is likely the company’s efforts to push the Standard Plus version, as hinted at by anecdotes from electric car buyers who ordered the base variant as soon as it was available. Based on several accounts from reservation holders who shared their experiences online, Tesla was encouraging buyers of the $35,000 Model 3 to upgrade to the Standard Plus, which cost $37,500 then without Autopilot.

There is no doubt that the Standard Plus Model 3 is Tesla’s current bang-for-your-buck vehicle, combining a very reasonable price with great features and more than decent performance. Elon Musk emphasized this during the first quarter earnings call, stating that “the $39,500 Model 3 just really hit the sweet spot” for electric car buyers, with its 240-mile range, its 0-60 mph time of 5.3 seconds, and its Autopilot features.

Despite this, it is also undeniable that the $35,000 Model 3 is a very compelling vehicle on its own. Tesla might state that the base version of its most affordable electric sedan is getting relatively low orders, but the car is, despite its lack of features and rather modest range, still a very capable EV. At $35,000 before incentives, the Standard Model 3 is pretty much at the same price range of a top-tier Toyota Camry; and it is a car that needs far less maintenance and zero gas. The $35,000 Model 3 could very well be a big opportunity for Tesla, especially when the company fully hits its stride in producing the electric sedan.

Tesla has started shipping the $35,000 Model 3 to customers, though the vehicle is essentially a software-limited Standard Plus model. If Elon Musk’s words during Tesla’s Autonomy Day event are any indication, there will soon be a lot of Standard Plus Model 3s on the road, since the company will be prioritizing the production of shorter-range vehicles that will eventually be used for its upcoming Tesla Network Robotaxi service.

Tesla’s $35k Model 3 lives on, even if $39.5k Standard Plus hits ‘sweet spot’ for buyers


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