By on April 12, 2019

tesla model 3

If you can find a Tesla store (that’s still open), and someone working in it, maybe you can buy … a Model 3 Standard Range.

Yes, the $35k car promised three years ago during the Model 3’s launch, and hyped to infinity in the months and years since, stands to become as shadowy and elusive as the A-Team. In yet another raft of changes to its Model 3 line announced Thursday night, the automaker ensured the Standard model’s status as a rare bird.

Offered by a company that’s moved to online ordering, the Standard model will not be available for ordering online. Hey, don’t be confused — there’s a solid explanation!

But first, a brief history lesson.

In late February, Tesla opened orders for the Standard and Standard Plus (220 and 240 miles of range, respectively), claiming customers could expect deliveries to begin in two to four weeks. Then something odd happened: Customers began receiving Standard Plus models, but the Standard was nowhere to be seen. Reports emerged of Standard customers receiving delay messages from Tesla reps via text message, some of them with open-ended timelines, with many claiming they were then pressured into upgrading to a Standard Plus.

Last night, the Tesla announced that the model no one has taken delivery of, and which it did its best to dissuade anyone from buying, just wasn’t very popular.

“Since [last quarter], Standard Plus has sold at more than six times the rate of Standard, far exceeding our expectations,” the company said in a blog post.

“Given the popularity of the Standard Plus relative to the Standard, we have made the decision to simplify our production operations to better optimize cost, minimize complexity and streamline operations. As a result, Model 3 Standard will now be a software-limited version of the Standard Plus, and we are taking it off the online ordering menu, which just means that to get it, customers will need to call us or visit any one of the several hundred Tesla stores. Deliveries of Model 3 Standard will begin this weekend.”

At the same time, Tesla realized that Autopilot saves lives and is really popular, so it’s making it standard kit on the Standard Plus, pushing that model’s price from $37,500 to $39,500. Previously, buyers would have to rustle up another three grand to add the capability. It’s a bargain!

And for those Standard Range holdouts who Ubered to their local Tesla store, presumably passing a billboard reading “Tesla Model 3 Standard Range buyers aren’t cool” along the way, to give their sales rep the secret handshake, there’s more good news. Because the Standard is just a Standard Plus with a software-imposed wet blanket, they can unlock the extra range, heated seats, nav, and that standard Autopilot at any time, so long as they make up the price difference between the two models.

To those who worried Tesla might be in dire need of cash, your fears were unfounded.

And it’s not just the model that Tesla CEO Elon Musk said might sink the company if offered too early that’s disappearing from the internet, either. The cheapest Long Range model also drops from the online ordering menu.

Tesla claims that “customers will also need to call or visit a Tesla store to get Model 3 Long Range Rear-Wheel Drive.”

“We’re making these changes to ensure that our online order process is focused exclusively on the three Model 3 variants customers want most,” Tesla continued, without adding “*wink*” to its copy.

There’s a leasing program, too, but don’t expect to make an offer once the term is up.

“Beginning today, customers in the U.S. will be able to lease Model 3 for a small down payment and competitive monthly payments. Customers can choose any Model 3 variant and select an annual mileage option of 10,000, 12,000, or 15,000 miles,” the automaker stated, adding, “Please note, customers who choose leasing over owning will not have the option to purchase their car at the end of the lease, because with full autonomy coming in the future via an over-the-air software update, we plan to use those vehicles in the Tesla ride-hailing network.”

One wonders if anyone leasing a Standard Range will be asked to upgrade partway through the term.

(Update: No, they won’t – as the Standard Range is not available to lease. Lease offers start with the Standard Plus, with Tesla asking $3,199 due at signing and $504/month for 36 months. That works out to $21,343 over the term, and remember, you can’t keep the car.)

[Image: Tesla]

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53 Comments on “Tesla’s $35k Model 3 Destined to Be a Ghost...”


  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    So it’s like normal dealership shenanigans where they show the top model in the ads but then show the price for the base model with no A/C and roll up windows that is blocked in and covered up somewhere on the back of the lot except that that one unicorn doesn’t even exist in this case.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      yep. at least with a dealership you have a *chance* of getting them to order you a complete base model if they don’t have one on hand.

      This, OTOH, was complete vaporware.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        I also saw they were leasing Model 3’s now but you couldn’t buy them at lease end…Tesla was going to use them for an autonomous ride hailing service.

        I wonder if this is a way to keep the Residuals high since you can pretty much make it whatever you want in this case. I had thought Teslas held on to their value pretty well so this may not be a game but it is interesting none the less for a variety of reasons. This would imply that Tesla plans to have a fully autonomous ride hailing service on the street in 2-3 years (when these leases would be up). Either that or they want to show another potential revenue stream to investors.

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          Either way…Bait and Switches and Subsidized Leases??? Tesla is a real car company now!

          • 0 avatar
            ToolGuy

            Was gonna say, this is nothing that ICE dealers/automakers don’t do on a regular basis. The models in question actually seem to be *more* attainable than in the old-style bait and switch.

            The ‘training wheels’ thing I think is appealing – spring for range R now, see how it works out, then move to R’ if desired (couldn’t use X and Y as variables – lol). And for as long as you hold onto the lower range, the battery has an easier life because less depth of discharge.

            As far as rolling in optional content as standard (at a formula-determined reduction from the option price), this is common practice with OEM’s. And streamlining order combinations is generally good business.

  • avatar
    don1967

    But the rocket ride to Mars is still on, right?

  • avatar
    labelnerd

    Even if I was interested in a Tesla and had the ability to buy one, I would not due to their ineptitude and lack of ethics. In fact I have zero interest in electric vehicles. Very easy to finish commenting on this company’s other tactics…..two letters……BS.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    It is a great credit to Musk’s salesmanship that Tesla still exists. Without the cult, different result.

    Musk is the Ron Popeil of the car industry, except Popeil was likable and there were no mandates or subsidies for the Veg-O-Matic.

  • avatar

    Parts replacement. One source of repairs. Whompy Wheels. Pass

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    I just checked out their Canada/Ontario website.

    No leasing options available on the site for the Model 3. Three options available for the Model 3.
    1) Model 3, Standard Range Plus at $47,000. Want $7,500 down and will finance for 96 months at 4.99%.
    2) Model 3 AWD at $60,500.
    3) Model 3 AWD Performance at $74,000.

    And despite everything after watching their videos and exploring their site, I want one. And I never even considered Tesla previously. Of course, it’s never going to happen, but still. Is there an Ace of Base review on one?

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      96 Month financing?! Does it magically become smart on a Tesla versus a high end pickup to finance it for 8 freaking years!

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        Does anyone think a 2019 EV will be anything other than hilariously obsolete in six years? Either the global fascists will collapse and EVs will be revealed as the rent-seekers’ resource vacuums that they are, or EVs will have to make massive advancements in practicality and resource efficiency. Either way, there’s no reason to get in debt for eight years to own what they’re piling up in holding lots today.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      It was in a USA Today article BTW…not sure when it goes live.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    PT Barum would be proud of you Elon. Hype the 35 K car and not ship it. I like how they tell you a price on their US website that figures in what you would save in gas … Cheapest 3 I see on their website is 39,500 as of right now that is your ace of base, but order quick it may change. ( this price is what you would pay, Elon says after savings it will be $31,450, $3750 rebate from Uncle Sam and a gas savings of $4300)

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Or was it Henry Ford who said “there’s one born every minute?”

      Whatevs, Elon! You’re no Henry Ford!

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        True. Henry Ford was a despicable, racist, fascist sympathizer, who failed in nearly every endeavour he attempted. His only real success, the Model T, was due almost solely to the skills of the Dodge Brothers. And Henry milked it for all it was worth and then nearly ran his company into the ground, because he was too egotistical, stubborn and stupid to turn it over to his son. Henry’s intransigence can even be blamed for his son’s early death.

        In nearly every aspect of life, despite all of his failings, Musk is quite probably superior to Henry Ford.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    So, basically, the Standard has identical manufacturing costs to the Standard Plus, but sells for $4,500 less. I can see why they don’t want people to buy it.

    And they are certainly acting very much like a typical car manufacturer and dealer in making very hard for consumers to actually buy the base model.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      It would almost certainly cost more to make the Standard without those features, and the Standard Plus with them. Making them all the same is cheaper these days. It’s the same reason power windows and locks are pretty much the same across the board. The battery thing is also nothing new for Tesla, for some time IIRC the Model S has had only two sizes of batteries, while offering at least four usuable capacities. The lesser models were just software limited, and in fact Tesla has remotely unlocked the extra capacity temporarily in times of natural disaster evacuations. Which is one of the few things I will EVER compliment that company on.

      I really can’t blame them for making it slightly harder to buy the cars that they make less or no money on, given their financial situation. Is it such a hardship to pick up a phone instead of clicking a mouse?

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    Musk is a complete fraud.

  • avatar
    vvk

    No cloth seats for you!

  • avatar
    210delray

    Last time I checked online, the Standard model at the $35K price (ignoring the silly “gas savings” discount) was available only in black. To get any other color, there was an upcharge of $1000-$2000. Also, to avoid those ugly standard black “aero” wheels, you have to pay $1500 for the silver “sport” alloys. Then tack on another grand to avoid the all-black interior.

    All of the above upcharges (exterior and interior colors and wheels) still apply to the Standard Plus. So if I wanted a red Model 3 Standard Plus with the 2-tone interior and sport wheels, the bottom line would be $44,000!

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      “Last time I checked online, the Standard model at the $35K price (ignoring the silly “gas savings” discount) was available only in black. To get any other color, there was an upcharge of $1000-$2000. Also, to avoid those ugly standard black “aero” wheels, you have to pay $1500 for the silver “sport” alloys. Then tack on another grand to avoid the all-black interior.”

      So, Tesla is the cable company.

      “300 channels! HBO included! Only $90!” (plus sports fee, broadcast fee, profit fee, cable box rentals, HD fee, and we feel like it fee)

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        You forgot the addition of the “we don’t know what to call it, so we’ll just stick you with another stupid fee” fee! Not quite the same as the “we feel like it fee,” but close!

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        More like they are Porsche. Yeah, you can buy a Cayman for $66K, but it will be $80K once you option it the way you really want it.

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          Probably $2K for floormats..that still aren’t any better than Michael’s-grade felt!

          At least you can make your car..YOUR CAR..I suppose if you need to ask “how much?,” you can’t afford it!

  • avatar

    There is some twitter rumbling about how Panasonic has taken a hit due to lower than expected battery sales

    • 0 avatar
      EBFlex

      Not rumbling. Full blown articles on how Panasonic basically wants to detach themselves from Tesla.

      Panasonic recognizes it’s very bad to do business with Tesla.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        The Gigafactory produces more lithium ion batteries than any other plant in the world. Are you suggesting that was bad for Panasonic? Maybe Tesla never paid them?

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          That wouldn’t be a complete shock!

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          Making a pile of batteries isn’t really great if you aren’t making money doing it.

          That seems to get lost a lot – companies are supposed to make money, not change the world. That is the job of charities.

          • 0 avatar
            SCE to AUX

            I agree with you, krhodes1.

            But suppliers get very testy when they don’t get paid – just look at Faraday Future’s factory construction contractors, who all walked off the job.

            I was only joking that perhaps Panasonic didn’t get paid by Tesla. But perhaps there is a middle ground, like razor-thin margins with high risk.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    How much effort is expended strategizing and updating websites and such when the models change on a daily basis? Musk needs to attend the Deming Seminar…,#1 lesson: constancy of purpose.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    As so many of us predicted. The $35K model is here! A few weeks later, “due to weak demand…”

    Weak demand that Tesla manufactured. Stunning to me when followers are so loyal they are willing to get the shaft and still not question it.

    As so many said – there isn’t nor never will be a $35K Tesla.

    Shocked I tell you, shocked.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      I’m pretty sure that all of the demand for Tesla vehicles is weak.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        Sure, that’s why Tesla is #1 in EV sales and is ahead of many ICE mfrs in the US market.

        • 0 avatar
          Tele Vision

          Not around here, fanboi. I’ve seen exactly two of them – ever: a sedan of some sort and one of the minivans with the silly doors. I’ve never seen them since in my town of 25,000 – so they were tourists from the big city, here for our relatively-deserted Costco, I’m sure.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            In the GTA I see at least half a dozen everyday. And the numbers are growing. However as we know, sales success is no indicator of a good product. Particularly in regards to automobiles.

        • 0 avatar
          ToddAtlasF1

          #1 in EV sales? Awesome! And they’re doing it while both missing production targets and bringing back the Chrysler sales bank!

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          Big deal. There is a used dealer near me that could probably claim to be number one in reconditioned third gen F Bodies in the world. CarMax probably isn’t scared.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          you haven’t addressed the question about how big the market for BEVs actually is. We know the Elon Fan Club has pretty much all bought their Teslas by now, so where are they headed now that they have to try to pull buyers out of their Accords, Escapes, F-150s, etc.?

          ‘cos most of the cheerleaders seem to assume Tesla will undergo unending growth.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          It’s easy to sell a lot when you have several hundred thousand back orders, minimal competition, and a big fat government sales subsidy.

          But once those backorders are filled, and the subsidies run out, and some real competition is on the horizon, what’s the real demand look like? We are starting to find out.

          Then there is the issue that the company remains a total dumpster fire for sales, service, and quality control. Both of my Tesla owning close friends swear they will never buy another one, even though they love the cars themselves despite the many issues with them.

          As I said when they crowed that the Model S outsells the S-class – so what? They outsell a car that barely sells at all.

          • 0 avatar
            SCE to AUX

            All EVs enjoy the same ‘big fat government subsidy’, and in that ecosystem, Tesla owns the market even with its high transaction prices.

            One of the many reasons I balked on the Model 3 was its quality control; even the showroom car had misaligned trim that you could see 20 ft away.

            So I got a Hyundai EV with no quality issues and no stigma attached to it.

  • avatar
    ajla

    It’s disappointing that they got rid of the higher output RWD version and made Autopilot standard.

    The only RWD Model 3 now offered has 240 miles of range and a 5.3 0-60 for $40.7K after destination. That doesn’t make a good showing against certain ICE sedans.

    Part of the appeal of doing a “custom online ordering” model should be consumers having a wider range of options. Instead, you get more variety at Honda.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Except there’s no longer a “DX” equivalent without A/C and a radio, just like the people who sat in line for hours really wanted! “No, you’ll take the ‘EX’ with a sunroof and LIKE it!” (Say it like Ted Knight‘s character in “Caddyshack!”)

      Hmm! Come to think of it, Honda doesn’t sell DX-grade cars any more, either!

  • avatar
    Gedrven

    Elon set out to change the world and ended up sucked into the same quasi-fraudulent sales and marketing tactics of the old guard. For shame.

    As with airline ticket “overbooking”, it should be considered actionable fraud to sell something you knowingly don’t have, or at least make a bona fide effort to deliver in the future.

    It should also be considered false advertising to state a price that is anything other than the money the buyer has to give the seller to get the product.

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    It’s foolish for Tesla to chase a low base price. Tesla is a luxury brand and the Model 3 is a $45k car and everyone knows that. Sure, you can pay less if you ace-of-base it, or you can pay a lot more if you want to humilate Ferraris with the Pitbull-Featuring-Ludacris trim, but for most buyers…$45k.

    That’s low enough to be a damn good value for what you get, yet high enough to price lots of people out of the running — the magic combination for aren’t-we-the-smart-money snob appeal.

    Snob appeal sells these cars. Insisting they’re available cheap — while doing the modern equivalent of hiding the newspaper-ad car under a tarp behind the body shop — damages the brand image. Why keep doing it?

    Probably because investors are enamored with the long-term vision of affordable EVs for everyone, and the stock’s value is based on that idea. But as Nissan, Chevy, Tesla, and VW have learned, building an EV that’s both cheap and appealing is extremely challenging.

    When cars first became widespread, the average Joe drove a rickety Ford, not a supercharged Duesenberg. Today the average Joe drives a Corolla, not a Lexus LS. When EVs eventually become the default, the average Joe will be tooling around in a Nissan Leaf or VW e-Up or Geometry A or whatever, not a fast sexy Tesla.

    And that’s fine.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      The real car companies didn’t have to learn that lesson, they knew it from the get-go which is why they didn’t bother trying. Tesla had to learn that lesson, because they thought they were smarter than everyone else in the industry. They aren’t – they were just willing to waste more of other people’s money.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        “They aren’t – they were just willing to waste more of other people’s money.”

        When the 2009 Federal Electric Vehicle Tax Credit has run its course, all mfrs will have wasted the same amount of the taxpayers’ money. Today, Tesla is only slightly ahead of GM and Nissan.


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