By on October 19, 2018

Tesla Model 3

Tesla’s Model 3 line as evolved once again, this time adding a new model closer to the bottom of the range while eliminating the second-cheapest configuration (and currently the cheapest Model 3 you can actually get delivered).

Announced Thursday night, the rear-drive Model 3 Long Range — which started at $44,000 but required the addition of a $5,000 premium package — is gone from the lineup, replaced by a Mid Range sedan with two driven wheels and a lower-capacity battery. The price for 50 fewer miles of range? $45,000.

Hmmm… it seems someone in Palo Alto was busy with their calculator.

While CEO Elon Musk tweeted that the Model 3 Long Range RWD will still be available for about a week, going forward buyers will only be able to select a dual-motor Long Range variant ($54,000 to start) if they desire 310 miles of driving range. That model’s Performance sibling is also available, stickering at $64,000 before a federal tax credit that’ll be cut in half at the beginning of next year.

The low-end replacement model boasts 260 miles of range and a lowered top speed of 125 miles per hour. 0-60 comes along in a pokier 5.6 seconds. Essentially, the Mid Range model is just the defunct Long Range RWD model, just with fewer cells in its identically-sized battery pack. Adding Autopilot features will cost another $5,000.

For those keeping track, this new model stickers for $10,000 more than the much-touted, still unavailable base model, which is expected to cost $35,000 and offer a range of about 215 miles. In a tweet, Musk said removing cells from the Long Range model’s battery to create a Mid Range option was quicker than designing a whole new battery. Whether you consider this a deal likely depends on your level of reverence for Musk.

If you’ve ordered a base model, well, expect to continue waiting. Tesla claims the Standard model won’t reach customers for another four to six months.

[Image: Tesla]

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58 Comments on “Tesla Offers Up Another Reason Not to Order Its Cheapest Car...”


  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    He’s intentionally torpedoing the idea of a reasonably-priced Model 3. I’ll be glad when he’s out the door; they should hire someone who knows how to run an automaker.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      @dukeisduke: “He’s intentionally torpedoing the idea of a reasonably-priced Model 3.”

      — First off, “reasonably priced” is different for each person. To me, for an EV with this kind of body style would be cheap at $35K.

      But this is not “intentional torpedoing the idea…”; Tesla has done this with EVERY previous model, starting with the S-60 which saw only marginal sales vs the S-40/50 which saw almost no sales despite nearly matching the originally projected ‘low-price’ numbers. The average price of a shorter-ranged, single drive Model S is roughly equal to the average price of the long-range, dual drive Model 3.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    IMO the most interesting change here isn’t the new model 3 trim, but the fact that Tesla (almost) silently discontinued the “full self-driving” future-option across all its cars… Huh! I wonder why?

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Were the pre-order hamsters refunded?

      Iirc All Teslas come with autopilot, you’re just paying to activate it.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      As I have said before, I don’t think any mfr is ever going to offer Level 4 or 5 autonomy, because it dramatically increases their legal liability.

      Everyone knows that even the Level 2 systems are flawed. I’m sure Tesla got a dose of reality about their FSD option.

      It’s not so bad to admit that it’s not ready for Level 4 or 5 autonomy, but eventually they’ll have to refund the fools who paid for this ‘someday’ feature in advance.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “I don’t think any mfr is ever going to offer Level 4 or 5 autonomy, because it dramatically increases their legal liability.”

        I used to hold that position. But there is so much momentum to driverless cars that I now expect that the OEMs are likely to negotiate a carveout so that they have no liability.

        States may need to revamp their auto insurance laws so that policies are no-fault, since the party that is at fault (the OEMs) won’t be liable.

        • 0 avatar
          PeriSoft

          Pch101, the problem is that general-purpose full autonomy just isn’t anywhere near close to working, liability solutions or no. There isn’t even anyone doing research that would begin to *ask the question* of how to get a fully autonomous car out of my driveway, or tell it how to get in (“Park in the carport”? What’s a carport?), let along working on solving them, let alone having solved them.

          Everyone acts like insurance and the trolley problem are the big deals, which is a bit like thinking that the legal ramifications of extrasolar planetary exploration are its biggest barrier. No, not quite.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Give it a couple of decades. It will work eventually.

          • 0 avatar
            PeriSoft

            Pch101, I have occasion as part of my work to talk with people on both the academic and commercial side who are working on the problem, and the general consensus there is 20 to 30 years, yeah. But that may end up being a 20-to-30 in the same vein as the one for fusion power, which has been 20 to 30 years away for pushing 45 years already!

          • 0 avatar
            brandloyalty

            @perisoft
            I don’t know about the garage parking problem. My $300 Roomba vacuum cleaner can find and park on its charging base.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    An unprofitable production constrained company trying to find the magic formula for profits, and it appears they are very aware the low priced variants are definitely not the answer.

  • avatar
    an innocent man

    >Tesla claims the Standard model won’t reach customers for another four to six months.<

    Did they say '4 to 6 months' or did they say '46 months?' They sound similar.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      I doubt they will ever sell many of the cheap standard model. By the time that they actually get around to making them the tax credit will be gone and many of the buyers that wanted the standard version will be priced out of the market. So yeah it might as well be 46 months.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “Whether you consider this a deal likely depends on your level of reverence for Musk.”

    That’s a stupid comment. Whether it’s a deal depends on how you do the math, not your opinion of the company’s leader.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    On these pages, I predicted that the $35k car would cost $45k. Thus far, that is how it has worked out.

    “Whether you consider this a deal likely depends on your level of reverence for Musk.”

    I have long been a Tesla skeptic and there are sound reasons to be a Tesla skeptic. But those kinds of quips don’t help.

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      I recall PCH predicting the “real” base model 3 would come in at $45k. It sounded right then and it sounds right now: if $35k won’t quite buy a Chevy Bolt, which is basically an electric Honda Fit, then it’s certainly not enough for a Model 3, which is basically electric BMW 3 series with an engine upgrade. $45k always seemed like a good “in reality” target and it looks like they found a way to hit it. Good for them.

      However, AFAIK they’re still not offering leases on the Model 3, so they’re still going to have a pretty limited market. Most luxury car buyers are either a) buying beyond their means and using a lease to bridge the gap or b) could afford to buy but know better than to own a luxury car out of warranty.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    So I get we have our resident Tesla fans who see the company as doing zero wrong. I’m told by these people that there is a buyer for every car as far out as the eye can see, over 400,000 orders yet to be built, the “bathtub” of orders is still being filled as fast as they build them.

    So when I read this from Tesla one thing jumped out at me.

    Tesla is saying if I order one of these $45,000 Model 3 my lead time to delivery is 6 to 10 weeks. Full stop.

    If I walked into a Buick dealer right now (stick with me here, there is a reason I picked Buick specifically) and told the sales drone I want to factory order a Buick LaCrosse, with X options and Y color, the lead time for delivery would be about…6 to 8 weeks.

    I picked Buick specifically because production is also in the United States for the LaCrosse (Detroit) to remove the “sitting on the boat” or waiting on these parts factor. If I factory order a Lexus, for example, the boat ride is 4 to 6 weeks (though the whole system from factory to prep, to port, to waiting for the ship, to actual shipping, to customs, to off the boat, etc. etc.

    Now yes, the Buick dealer is going to beg me to buy an existing 2018 (or a 2017 for that matter) and will likely make that factory order hurt. Let’s ignore that.

    If there is already a reserved rear end for every Tesla being built as far as the eye can see, how can a brand new factory order I make today come to my door within industry standard lead times???

    Something doesn’t add up.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Well part of it is due to the fact that they don’t build cars in the sequence they are ordered. If you order a car with a higher price you will be put in front of those who order one with a lower price.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        I think you missed his point. he’s asking why the lead time on ordering one of these is *only* 6-10 weeks. If they’re still working feverishly to fill the backlog of those 500,000 pre-orders, the lead time on a “new” model should be much, much longer.

        • 0 avatar
          APaGttH

          …I think you missed his point. he’s asking why the lead time on ordering one of these is *only* 6-10 weeks. If they’re still working feverishly to fill the backlog of those 500,000 pre-orders, the lead time on a “new” model should be much, much longer…

          Exactly this. We’ve seen this on other cars with large orders and high demand where buyer options are:

          a) Wait for months, or years…

          b) Accept this one on the lot as-is because a sale fell through. The price is this, if you don’t like the price there are 20 people behind with cash in hand ready to pay the price

          These aren’t “higher priced orders” either, this is the new low-cost model. If the theory is the higher priced orders are pushed to the front of the line, this points to a factory production line building at balance. We know that Tesla has yet to build 5K units a week consistently with a low percentage of rework (yes, they’ve built one week here and one week there at over 5k).

          If production is balanced to demand at say 4.8K production per week – Tesla has huge problems. If I’m waiting on my $70K Model 3 and I’ve been pushed to the back of the line by someone that cut in front of me, I’m ticked off.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      I suspect a good portion of those people who put down $1,000 to “pre-order” a Model 3 are realizing (or have realized) they can’t actually afford a $45-60k car. I’m sure some of them pre-ordered mostly so they could stand in line with other geeks/wanna-be geeks and talk amongst themselves about how awesome Elon is.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        …I suspect a good portion of those people who put down $1,000 to “pre-order” a Model 3 are realizing (or have realized) they can’t actually afford a $45-60k car…

        That isn’t what Tesla is saying. The claim is the order cancelations have been low (contrary to what other observers have said).

        I’m not trying to argue – I actually think that’s the issue, but that means the 420,000 or so still to be built isn’t reality, which I’m told is not true. It also would mean the bath tub isn’t staying full, which also I’m told isn’t true.

        Something doesn’t add up.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          all that means is they haven’t asked for their thousand clams back. it doesn’t mean all of those who put down a pre-order have since converted that into a vehicle purchase. they could be waiting for something, or just sitting on it so they don’t “lose their place in line.”

          at any rate, I was agreeing with you that something doesn’t add up.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      As of 6/30/2018, Tesla had deposits on hand of $942 million. That isn’t broken out by model, but one can surmise that a fair amount of that is for the Model 3.

      If Tesla builds the $35k cars, it will bleed cash. Tesla is desperate to report a profit, so it won’t bother with those cheaper cars.

      It might be able to report one quarter of profit if it pushes the high revenue models and has a few accounting tricks such as cuts in R&D and payrolls that aren’t sustainable. One common theme among Tesla fans: They can’t read a financial statement.

    • 0 avatar
      tylanner

      There is one problem with your diatribe….you cant get a product like this for this price anywhere else….so get in line is an acceptable answer….

      just an unbelievable avalanche of non-sense.

      • 0 avatar
        FWD Donuts

        tylanner, you do know Nissan, Jaguar, and Chevrolet all offer EVs — with plenty more offers in the pipeline — don’t you?

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        …you cant get a product like this for this price anywhere else…

        Yes I can. Jaguar comes right to the top of my mind.

        Diatribe? Hardly a diatribe – I simply asked the question on why can I get a Model 3 on standard industry lead time for a factory order if I ordered one today if Teslas is sitting on hundreds of thousands of unfilled orders and has buyers lined up for every car they produce and then some.

        It doesn’t pass an objective sniff test.

        a) There aren’t buyers lined up for orders as far as the eye can see, that is why you can get one in industry standard lead time

        b) They are letting these buyers cut in front of the line, pushing off buyers of higher price models (that is a possible explanation, but makes little sense)

        c) Tesla has dramatically increased production in the last week or 2, or has dramatically reduced rework issues increasing capacity, they are now splitting between backlog and specific buyers on production (but wouldn’t Tesla be screaming that they are now making 8K, 9K, 10K a week? Hasn’t that been the historic pattern?)

        d) The number of incoming orders to fulfilled and canceled orders is collapsing, and they need to keep production up (LEAN manufacturing principals)

        Only one of these scenarios are good.

        You’re free to offer an e, f, g — hopefully without ad hominem and grounded in fact.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          “They are letting these buyers cut in front of the line, pushing off buyers of higher price models (that is a possible explanation, but makes little sense)”

          Given that the company has almost $1 billion in deposits on hand, it makes perfect sense.

          $35k cars will generate maximum losses. $45k cars produce fewer losses. And if my suspicions are correct, Tesla will report one quarter of profit or breakeven thanks to some financial gamesmanship, but that quarter won’t translate into sustainable, consistent profits thereafter.

          The fact that Tesla is allowing new customers to cut in line in front of earlier would-be buyers is a strong indication that Tesla is running out of the high-dollar buyers. But they still need those $45k+ buyers, since $35k units will cause financial bleeding.

          In part, Tesla is going to try to string along those lower-cost customers for as long as possible so that they don’t demand their deposits back en masse. Tesla can’t afford to lose that much cash from the balance sheet.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            The “$35k” models will be using a new design battery module that’s lighter and cheaper. It’s supposed to be in mass production in Q1. My guess is that Panasonic has further reduced the cobalt in the cells – or eliminated it.

            If it’s lighter, that lowers the cost a bit too since a lighter car can achieve the same range with a smaller pack.

            With the new pack, the cost should be low enough that they are most likely making money at $35k depending on the volume (probably 10k a week to achieve that), but, I wouldn’t be surprised if the price crept up after a few months anyway.

            Battery tech is a faster moving target than most think. While the big changes like solid-state technology are moving a bit slower, smaller incremental changes like cobalt reduction are happening at a faster pace. Durability and costs are improving all the time.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Tesla’s business model is an inherent money loser.

            The more cars that it makes, the more money that it loses. There is high overhead and no opportunity for scale.

            Were it not for regulations, no other automaker would be doing anything more than making a few EVs for PR and research purposes. There are good reasons why Mercedes, BMW, Toyota, VW, etc. didn’t do this first.

          • 0 avatar
            Dan

            Putting higher margin sales ahead of lower margin sales makes all the sense in the world but Tesla isn’t just moving the $65K profit editions to the front of the line. The base RWD edition at $45K is getting bumped to the front of the line too.

            That would suggest that virtually all of 400,000 plus reservations that Tesla claims to be sitting on are for the $35K vapor edition.

            Which will remain vapor forever, either through not showing up at all or by being intentionally gimped when it does such that almost nobody will actually follow through and buy it.

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            @Dan

            I think you’ve nailed it. Given the $45K model is RWD only, it sure seems the AWD pipeline is drying up.

        • 0 avatar
          HotPotato

          Nah, that’s pretty much BS. I can’t walk into any Jag or Audi dealer and drive out in an electric car and neither can you. Supply is limited. They’re making as few as possible for compliance-car and PR purposes only. Moreover, who’s going to be dumb enough to buy them? They’re not committed to electric cars. They don’t have a high-speed charging network. No way in hell is someone dropping 85 grand on a luxury SUV only to charge no faster than a Nissan Leaf. If automakers were banging out $25k electric cars, Tesla would have competition. If they were banging out $50k cars with a nationwide supercharging network, Tesla would have competition. But they’re not, and they don’t want to. Tesla really does have the space mostly to itself…for now.

  • avatar
    Asdf

    The fact that the Model 3 has an INSANELY LONG charging time, as well as the fact that there is no “Long range” version of the Model 3 (dishonest marketing designation notwithstanding), should have been reasons good enough not to order the car in any version. Not to mention the strong likelihood that Tesla will be bankrupt soon.

    • 0 avatar
      tekdemon

      It takes about a half hour to top up half the pack from 10% to 60% on existing chargers and the car is capable of higher charge rates when newer chargers come out. How is that INSANELY LONG when it’s the fastest charging (by miles/minute) EV on the market?

      • 0 avatar
        Asdf

        It takes about 5 minutes to fill a fuel tank. Fully charging an EV shouldn’t take longer than that, and yet it takes from half an hour to several hours just to top up, hence my obvious observation that the charging time is “insanely long”.

  • avatar
    FWD Donuts

    The Model 3 is available in 5 colors. Black is available at no additional charge. Two are available for a $1500 upcharge. Two more at a $2000 upcharge.

    The shenanigans from a pricing standpoint are really getting old. And before the fanboys get all “well, everybody does it” — no, I haven’t seen another automaker offer a product with one color as standard with everything else offered as an option.

    Tesla better get a hard nosed manufacturing executive as Chairman in there. Otherwise, they’re going to blow it. They’ve got incredible cache — but everyone has their limits.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      GM is doing it – for the life of me I can’t remember on which car/SUV, but they are doing it. I want to say Mercedes or Audi is doing it also.

      The main difference is the optional colors aren’t $1500 to start – they are $395 (in GMs case) and around $700 for Mercedes and/or Audi.

      The other game that Tesla is playing on the Model 3 is the standard rims are hopelessly ugly – they are horrid. If the car is slightly more than an appliance to the buyer, they’re shelling out $1500 for the upgraded rims. The upgraded rims are always pictured, those horrors dull charcoal “aero” rims are never shown in PR pics.

      • 0 avatar
        civicjohn

        @APaGttH, you have to understand those are “aero” wheels, that save the planet in a more incremental fashion!

        As to other posts above, I sincerely doubt the colbalt mixture is changing in the 2170 cells, otherwise that would be “tweet worthy”. Musk already said they weren’t changing the cells in the Model S/X in 2018, and gave guidance in Q4 2017 for sales of 100k S/X in 2018, but the i-Pace is killing it in Norway, so expect deals in the near future.

        If a company had 400K+ orders for $55-65k cars, why bring out a $45k car available in 10 weeks? There’s no way in hell that the remaining deposits are for those types, otherwise they would be crazy to promise delivery times like this. Maybe Sir Elon will give guidance regarding the deposits on the next earnings call, but he never has before.

        Good peon Fred Lambert (who is the biggest shill for Tesla) had to roll out on his website today:

        1. No more FSD (due to “confusion”)
        2. $45k version (where they just pulled out some cells)
        3. Production numbers that don’t back up what was said on the last earnings call
        4. Tesla found out that some customers have got a 3.3 0-60 mph on the Performance Model, so they changed the numbers on the website
        5. The new “Mid Range” has a lower top speed than the $35k model

        All in a span of 24 hours, before the earnings call.

        They have done everything they can to show a profit in Q3. If they don’t raise funds for the upcoming bond payments (conversion price $359) the next 2 quarters it will be a big hit to earnings. Never mind that they don’t have a freaking nickel for the China GF.

        The parking lot I watch where the local Tesla dealer stuffs cars has tripled in the last 3 weeks. They will be “cars in transit” to dress up the financials.

        welcome back pch

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          “As to other posts above, I sincerely doubt the colbalt mixture is changing in the 2170 cells, otherwise that would be “tweet worthy”.”

          That’s a stated goal of all the battery manufacturers. It’s been tweeted out plenty of times by all of the manufacturers. Panasonic has stated that as a goal. Musk has stated in the past they intend to get it to zero. They’re already beyond NMC 811 and these newest cells are another step along the path. It’s not just Panasonic. Other makers are making progress as well. Samsung, CATL, Sk Innovations. The whole industry. It’s happening and not surprising that one manufacturer has started to put the cells into its packs.

          https://cleantechnica.com/2018/03/04/exciting-developments-nmc-811-lithium-battery-technology/

          • 0 avatar
            civicjohn

            I think I missed your point. I can Google NMC or Tesla or Panasonic cell and see the research and PR related to cell technology. My feeble brain understands the difference between 811 and 622 and other battery chemistry to wring out the colbalt component while keeping the cell stable and getting faster charging. Are you saying that Panasonic has changed the cathode chemistry in the 2170 cell at the Gigafactory?

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            @civicjohn: Yeah, that’s my theory anyway. I think they have changed the electrode design. Don’t know what they’re doing to increase the durability as the cobalt is reduced.

            2170 is just a form factor and I think my friends with the solid state tech could extrude a cell with that form factor if they wanted. Even the semi-solid labs could probably do it.

            Here’s a good example of how battery technology is quietly advancing. Some say there isn’t much progress, but that’s not true. Semi-solid lithium metal cells just went into production. Actual production. They’re expensive for now, but lighter, denser, and more durable. These cells are a big advance over the current technologies and available for purchase. Yet, no big headlines. They won’t be in EVs until after 2020 according to the company, but they are a big advance.

            https://tinyurl.com/yb7k92vb

            http://www.solidenergysystems.com/technology/

            I doubt this is the tech inside of the newest Tesla cells, but I do think this is similar to what they’ll use in the new roadster. It’s probably what will define the next generation of batteries.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        every manufacturer has some “extra cost” paint options, but they’re usually reserved for low volume “eye catcher” colors, or legit more expensive ones like tri-coat. I haven’t seen any where *every* color save one is extra.

      • 0 avatar
        Carlson Fan

        GM is doing it – for the life of me I can’t remember on which car/SUV, but they are doing it. I want to say Mercedes or Audi is doing it also.”

        The metallic white tri-coat paint on my 2013 Chevy Volt was a $1000 option 6 yeas ago. It is beautiful!

      • 0 avatar
        tekdemon

        The aero covers come off though and there’s a cheap set of nice center caps. The car looks fine with the base wheels and center caps sans the aero covers. I fail to see how this base car: http://imgbox.com/ciUub2VG is “hideous” with the base wheels.

        If you don’t like the dark grey it’s trivial to have them painted silver.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      All of the colors except plain white and plain red are upcharges on the new Ram, plain white isn’t available on anything past the Big Horn and on the higher trims plain red isn’t either.

      The other colors (Longhorn, only colors) are $1-200 and not $1500 but that’s still living up the fundamental principle that the entire retail side of the auto industry are lying pieces of chit.

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