Tesla Announces $45,000 Mid-Range Model 3

Tesla Model 3

The brake discs and pads are designed to last for the life of the car

Tesla has reshuffled its Model 3 lineup and is now offering the cheapest version yet, but it's still $10,000 more than the long-promised $35,000 entry-level vehicle.

Despite all those caveats, Musk followed up his order page tweet with another tweet on Thursday night arguing that the "true cost of ownership is closer to $31k after gas savings". A dual motor, all-wheel drive version with a long-range battery (310 miles) starts at $54,000.

While the electric-car maker was always expected to announce a less expensive variant of the Model 3, there's been no discussion of a mid-range version that would come in between Tesla's long-range and promised standard-battery versions.

Tesla buyers will no longer be able to get the full $7,500 federal tax credit after 31 December because the company reached the 200,000 sales threshold in July.

Tesla quietly killed off its full self-driving feature as an add-on option on its website for new buyers on Thursday.

Musk said Thursday the auto would be sold via Tesla's "super simple new order page", which estimated that delivery for its midrange model would take six to 10 weeks.

The $45,000 Model 3 will also lack advanced Autopilot functionality, which would cost another $5,000, and will stick to rear wheel drive as opposed to the all-wheel-drive option for the mid-range. A mid-range version of Model 3 for only $4,000 less can appeal to a wider audience while Tesla prepares to bring to market the cheapest version of the vehicle.

However, there's just one catch, the auto isn't going to cost exactly $35,000 for customers, it will cost $45,000.

The launch of this new variant has also allowed Tesla to restructure the Model 3 line-up.

But that price takes into account federal and state tax rebates.

The move could frustrate Tesla fans who put down a $1,000 deposit two years ago for what they believed would be a sleek electric sedan costing about $27,500 after tax incentives. In May, Musk acknowledged that at Tesla's current production rate the company would "lose money and die" if it sold Model 3 mass-market sedans at a $35,000 price point. And while that may not be a dealbreaker in itself, it's drifting farther away, once again, from the Model 3's original promise.

The Model 3 is Tesla's first lower-cost, high-volume auto.

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