Model 3 Red Rear Sunset

Tesla Finally Enters “Affordable EV” Arena With Base Model 3

  • The base Tesla Model 3 starts at $35,000 and has a range of over 200 miles.
  • Tesla is looking to challenge Nissan, Kia, and Hyundai – each have “affordable EV” options. 
  • The base Model 3 follows difficult news for employees as the automaker shutters its retail locations.

In what seemed like an eternity, Elon Musk is finally making good on his promise of an affordable version of the Tesla Model 3. Folks, you can now order your very own $35,000 Tesla Model 3 online.

Very few business leaders are like Elon Musk. It’s not about making promises, but it’s the execution that counts. After an onslaught of affordable electric vehicles like the new Nissan Leaf, Hyundai Kona EV, and Kia Niro EV, there was a moment when people thought Tesla was resting on their laurels.

And just when we thought Tesla was merely surfing the wave of success brought about by the Model S, Model X, and premium versions of the Model 3, along comes the base model – the realization of a promise. The base Model 3 costs $35,000 before tax credits. That’s approximately $26,950 when all is said and done.

What Do I Get In A $35k Tesla Model 3?

This is where the good news comes in. Unlike conventional cars, you still get plenty of ‘oomph and features in the base Tesla Model 3. It has an EPA-estimated range of 220 miles or 354 kilometers. The car is powered by a single electric motor driving the rear wheels, and can scoot to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds, which is quick for an “affordable” electric car.

Tesla didn’t skimp on the interior, either. The base Tesla Model 3 comes with manual seat and steering adjustments, cloth seats, a basic audio system with Bluetooth connectivity, standard maps and navigation, a center console dock for two smartphones, and four USB ports. You still get the standard, 15-inch touchscreen display in the $35,000 Tesla Model 3. You also get that gorgeous tinted glass roof, along with auto-dimming, power-folding (and heated) side mirrors. The base car comes with 18-inch aero wheels standard. If you want sportier 19-inch wheels, Tesla will oblige for an additional $1,500.

The base Tesla Model 3 is available in five colors. However, there’s a catch. Black is a no-cost option while midnight silver metallic and deep blue metallic will cost $1,500. The pearl white multi-coat option goes for an additional $2,000 while the flamboyant red multi-coat paint is yours for $2,500.

If you’re skimping on cash, we hope you like black cars.

Model 3 Red Driving Sunset
Tesla Model 3. Photo: Tesla Motors.

Autopilot & Self-Driving Capabilities? Check!

The base Tesla Model 3 can be ordered with Autopilot for an additional $3,000. This enables your Model 3 to steer, accelerate, and brake automatically when it detects pedestrians and other vehicles in the lane.

But for full self-driving capabilities, you’ll need to fork out another $5,000. This allows your Tesla Model 3 to cruise on Autopilot, overtake slower cars, navigate over interchanges, and automatically park in parallel and perpendicular spaces. You can even summon the car to come to you anywhere in the parking lot. This is James Bond stuff we’re talking about here!

But if you prefer to stick to the $35,000 budget for a new Tesla Model 3, it’s good to know the base car comes standard with emergency braking, collision warning, and blind spot monitoring.

No Test Drives Allowed

No, really. However, you can return the car within seven days or 1,000 miles (whichever comes first) if you’re not satisfied. Yes, this means you can take it on a short road trip and return it if you don’t like it. It’s as simple as that. Try doing that at a conventional dealership.

And if you think Musk is tripping on herb when he envisioned this strategy, there’s a pretty good reason for this. Tesla is planning to close most of their retail outlets, meaning fewer Tesla cars are available for a test drive. This also means Tesla vehicles can only be ordered online via the official Tesla website.

This is an otherwise sour note to what seems to be an exciting time in the automotive industry. Unfortunately for Tesla retail employees, job cuts are inevitable in the near future. This is the harsh truth behind the realization of an affordable, mass-market, and long-range Tesla Model 3.

Model 3 Interior Dashboard Head On
Tesla Model 3 interior layout. Photo: Tesla Motors.

Model S & Model X Price Cuts

Along with the arrival of the $35,000 Tesla Model 3, the company also cut the base prices for the Model S sedan and Model X SUV. The standard Model S starts at $79,000. It has a range of 270 miles, a top speed of 140 mph, and can hit 60 in 4.2 seconds. In fact, the long-range version of the Tesla Model S is now $10,000 less than last year’s version. It starts at $83,000 with 335 miles of range and a top speed of 155 mph.

Significant price cuts are also in effect for the Model S Performance and Ludicrous trims.

On the other hand, the base Tesla Model X is now the long-range version with 295 miles of range, zero to 60 in 4.7 seconds, and a top speed of 155. This model starts at $88,000 but is $8,000 less than previous ones. Surprisingly enough, you get a savings of up to $17,000 if you choose the Model X Performance and Performance Ludicrous trims.

Alvin Reyes is the Associate Editor of Automoblog. He studied civil aviation, aeronautics, and accountancy in his younger years and is still very much smitten to his former Lancer GSR and Galant SS. He also likes fried chicken, music, and herbal medicine.

Tesla Model 3 Gallery

Photos & Source: Tesla Motors.

  1. The base Model 3 might have been affordable if it had appeared before the fed tax credits disappeared – in a few months they will virtually all be gone, but the Model 3 competitors all have their $7500 credits, making the Model 3 excessively expensive, especially considering how threadbare the car is – cloth seats, only black interior, only black exterior, $1200 obligatory delivery charge, inferior driving range, and acceleration.
    And the huge, distracting and very dangerous LED touchscreen is no plus – it should be banned (and probably will be when a few more accidents occur) . The Model 3 higher priced versions have had a sales collapse , which is the major reason Tesla brought out this not yet ready $35,000 Model 3 before it was planned. This , plus eliminating any means by which a customer can see, or feel or test drive a Tesla is a mark of desperation.

    1. Yeah, removing the tax credits is a huge shame. But that isn’t Tesla’s fault, right?

    1. True. But remember, The Tesla Model 3 is already a bestseller, even outselling the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, and BMW 3-Series. We’re not die-hard Tesla fans here, and I may only speak for myself. But Tesla started the EV revolution, and they deserve credit for that.

      1. Agreed. Remember, even when Tesla first started talking about the Model 3, they said “we’re going to make a $35,000 electric car”. And now they did. This was before any of the rest of the competition was even thinking about making affordable EVs.

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