The saga of the $35,000 Tesla Model 3 has, once again, taken a dark turn. According to Electrek, the automaker will no longer be offering the cheapest version of its popular electric sedan with the forthcoming model year 2021 refresh. This represents the second time in so many years that Tesla has stopped selling the most affordable version of its mass-market car.
Previously, the $35,000 Model 3 was available but extremely hard to find. Tesla stopped listing it as an option on its site and only made it available “off menu” by selling the car for $38,000 with a $3,000 discount for some software-locked features.
Now, Tesla is informing its sales staff to longer offer the discount for the new Model 3 coming out next year, Electrek says, citing unnamed sources. Tesla sales team won’t be allowed to sell versions of the Model 3 that have been downgraded to “Standard Range,” which was the previous designation for the $35,000 version of the car.
You may still be able to buy a discounted “Standard Range” 2020 version of the Model 3, as long as your Tesla dealer still has it in their inventory. But that won’t be the case going forward. And once those older versions of the Model 3 are gone, so too will be our dreams of an affordable electric car for the masses.
The Model 3 was originally billed as Tesla’s first car for the broader market. From early on, the company’s “master plan” — as set out by CEO Elon Musk in a 2006 blog post — outlined how it would build a desirable electric sports car to convince people that EVs can be cool (which was not an easy task at the time), use the revenue from that to help fund a more affordable luxury sedan, and plow the funds from that effort into a car that hundreds of thousands of people could buy.
But Musk’s plan to make a $35,000 Model 3 never really came to fruition, thanks to the company’s well-documented “production hell.” Today, the Model 3 Standard Range Plus starts at $37,990, the Long Range starts at $46,990, and the Performance starts at $54,990.
This is not to say that Musk has completely abandoned his plan for an affordable electric car. Thanks to the company’s new “tabless” battery cells, as well as changing the materials inside the cell, Musk said Tesla will be able to “halve” the price per kilowatt-hour, which will make electric cars roughly the same price as combustion engine ones, Musk said during the company’s recent battery event. That should allow it to sell an EV for $25,000.