Tesla’s New Strategy and Its $35,000 Model 3: What You Need to Know

By Paul Riegler on 2 March 2019
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Tesla will finally deliver the mass-market electric vehicle it promised three years ago.

The automaker unveiled its standard range Model 3, priced at $35,000 before incentives. It also said it was making significant changes in how it will sell cars going forward.

In addition, Tesla said it will close almost all of its dealerships and move to an online sales model, while at the same time adding a seven-day, 1,000-mile (1,609-kilometer) return policy.

“You could buy a Tesla, drive several hundred miles for a weekend road trip with friends, and then return it for free,” said Tesla CEO Elon Musk on the company’s website.

Tesla first promised the $35,000 Model 3 three years ago and will now honor that price plus a $1,200 destination charge.  The Standard Range model promises a driving range of 220 miles (354 kilometers) on a single charge and a fairly pedestrian interior.  The company is also adding a Standard Range Plus model, which promises a driving range of 240 miles (386 kilometers).

The Standard Range Model 3 will accelerate from a standstill to 60 mph (96 km/h) in 5.6 seconds with a top speed of 130 mph (210 km/h), while the Standard Range Plus can do 0-60 in 5.3 seconds with a top speed of 140 mph (225 km/h).

In order to bring down the price, the entry-level Model 3 has manual seats, a manually adjustable steering column, cloth upholstery, a basic audio system, and a stripped-down center console.  The Standard Range Plus gets power and heated front seats, leatherette upholstery, an upgraded audio system, fog lights, and an improved center console. Both come with the glass roof and the large central information display that serves to control virtually every function in the vehicle.

Both come standard with black as the exterior color; other color options (there are four) will add from $1,500 to $2,500 to the price. Buyers of the Standard Range Plus can add an optional white interior for $1,000.

Finally, the Tesla autopilot suite of driver-assistance technologies is optional and will add $3,000 to the price of either of the two basic Standard Range Model 3s.

The move to online sales, Musk said, would allow the company to lower the price of its cars by 6% on average.

Tesla currently has 102 dealerships (it avoids the “d” word and calls them “stores”) spread across 23 states and the District of Columbia, according to its website. The majority of them are in California and Florida.  It is banned from selling cars directly in 27 states where a franchised dealership is required.  This means it has no presence in broad swaths of the country including the south, where the list includes Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, and South Carolina, and New England, where the ban is in effect in every state except Massachusetts.

Other states where one cannot go to a Tesla “store” are Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Musk said that service centers won’t be affected by the dealership closings, and he said he wants to be able to offer “same-day, if not same-hour” service, where Tesla technicians would visit customers for “most” issues.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)