The Tesla Model 3 is finally available in entry-level ‘Standard Range’ specification, the American firm has announced – more than two years after the car was revealed with a promised starting price of $35,000.
Tesla announced this evening that it has started manufacturing $35,000 editions of the car – and that it added extra trim levels and technical specs to help bridge the gap between ‘basic’ versions and the higher-end Model 3s that it has been selling so far.
The entry-level Model 3 gets a Standard Interior, with cloth seats, navigation and four USB sockets, and it’s equipped with a battery big enough to take it 220 miles between charges. It can reach 60mph from rest in 5.6 seconds and top speed of 130mph. It costs $35,000 although this figure can drop to less than $25,000 after incentives.
There’s also a ‘Partial Premium Interior’ that costs around $2,000 more and features an uprated sound system, 12-way power adjustment on the front seats, upgraded upholstery and LED front fog lights. This vehicle also brings a slightly beefier technical spec, with a range of 240 miles, a top speed of 140mph and a 0-60mph time of 5.3 seconds.
Both of these versions sit below the ‘Mid range’ and ‘Long range’ editions of the Model 3 – and they do without some of Tesla’s well-known features, such as audio streaming and internet browsing. But they do promise to save potential buyers as much as $10,000 and open the Tesla brand up to an even wider customer base.
Tesla says it will start taking orders in the US right away, and that the first deliveries of the new-spec Model 3s could happen before the end of March. There’s no word yet on how the revised specifications and trim levels will affect orders from European customers, including those in the UK.
All future Tesla sales to be online
In a further development, Tesla boss Elon Musk confirmed at the same time as the $35,000 Model 3 announcement that all of the firm’s future car sales will be online only. The company’s dealerships will be converted to information and advice centres, and Musk stated that customers should be able to spec and order a car with their smartphone in “around a minute”. He did concede that the move would result in the closure of some dealerships. “Some stores will close and there will be a reduction in headcount – there’s no question about that,” he said.
Tesla is also upgrading existing Model 3s as part of its range renovation. A firmware update for big-battery, rear-wheel-drive cars will take the range up to 325 miles, and there should be power gains of around five per cent across the line-up.
‘Full self-driving capability’ upgrade on Autopilot
There’s more to come from Tesla’s Autopilot technology as well, with Elon Musk explaining that the system is being split into ‘basic Autopilot’ and ‘full self-driving capability’. He stressed that even full self-driving mode would require driver supervision and that Tesla needs development work running to “billions of miles if not 10s of billions before supervision is not required” and that even then, legislation would need to change to allow full autonomy on public roads.
The full self-driving package will be a $5,000 option in the US for customers with basic Autopilot. As well as the existing Summon and Autopark features that see the car drive itself to find its owner and park itself respectively, it will have traffic light recognition and auto driving on city streets by the end of 2019.
Will the entry-level Model 3 be a game changer for Tesla? Have your say in the comments…