I’m old enough to remember when the Tesla Model 3 was supposed to be the affordable Tesla, the one that costs “only” $35,000, except we only ever really saw the $35,000 Model 3 in fits and starts. Now it looks as if Tesla might soon be moving on from the $35,000 Model 3 for good.
First, I must share that today I personally enjoyed reading the headlines and time stamps on the following two Jalopnik stories from last year:
Real roller coaster of emotions there. The thing is, the $35,000 Model 3 did eventually appear, though later you had to order it in person at a dealership or call — Tesla sold it online only for a brief bit. That Model 3 was a $38,000 Model 3 but “software-limited” to get its price down to $35,000. Some people bought it this way, but when companies start making it actively harder to buy a product it’s a sure sign that said product’s days are probably numbered. That is possibly, in the case of the $35,000 Model 3, because Tesla could be selling it at a loss.
All of which is to say, according to Electrek, the $35,000 Model 3 might soon be a thing of the past.
Sources familiar with the matter told Electrek that Tesla informed its staff that they weren’t allowed to “downgrade” new 2021 Model 3 vehicles to “Standard Range” and sell them for $35,000.
They are still allowed to software-limit features on 2020 Model 3 Standard Range Plus vehicles that are still in inventory and sell those to customers as Model 3 Standard Range for $35,000, but not the new 2021 Model 3, which comes with new features.
Earlier this year, Tesla CEO Elon Musk acknowledged that its cars aren’t affordable enough — implicitly including the $35,000 Model 3—saying that it was working on an even cheaper model, a $25,000 compact. Which is still a fair amount of money considering that Tesla buyers no longer get the $7,500 federal tax credit but it is, you know, a start.
It also allows us to move on from the idea that a $35,000 Model 3 was ever particularly affordable in the first place, or that a $35,000 Model 3 would even be particularly desirable, as software-limited as it ended up being. Because if you’re getting a Tesla without all the tech you’re kind of defeating the purpose of getting a Tesla at all.
That means that a $25,000 Tesla with most or all of Tesla’s tech would be a big step forward. But as we’ve learned with Tesla, we’ll just have to watch and wait.
I emailed Tesla for comment and will update this blog if I get a response.