Tesla today began selling the standard Model 3 at a base price of $35,000 in the U.S. and Canada. The model has 220 miles of range, a top speed of 130 miles per hour (mph), and a 0-60mph acceleration of 5.6 seconds. An enhanced version of the Model 3 — the Model 3 Standard Range Plus — starts at $37,000 and offers 240 miles of range, a top speed of 140mph, and 0-60mph acceleration of 5.3 seconds, in addition to “most” premium features, like a tinted glass roof and heated side mirror.
Tesla also announced that it’s shifting sales worldwide to online-only. The move, it says, played a critical role in driving down vehicle prices — 6 percent lower, on average.
Some savings will come from “[a] reduction in force on the retail side,” CEO Elon Musk admitted in a conference call with reporters. But he expects that Tesla will hire additional service technicians to meet sales demand.
“You can now buy a Tesla in North America via your phone in about one minute, and that capability will soon be extended worldwide,” Tesla wrote in a blog post. “Over the next few months, we will be winding down many of our stores, with a small number of stores in high-traffic locations remaining as galleries, showcases, and Tesla information centers.”
The new Model 3s will be available in Europe and China in “three to six months,” according to Musk.
Tesla is making it easier to try out its cars, too. Potential buyers can return a car within seven days or 1,000 miles for a full refund. Additionally, the company’s rolling out firmware upgrades to existing models — upgrades that will increase the range of the Long Range Rear-Wheel Drive Model 3 to 325 miles and the top speed of Model 3 Performance to 162 mph and add an average of 5 percent peak power to all Model 3 cars.
Lastly, it’s adjusting pricing across its lineup. The Model X now costs $88,000, while the Model S costs $79,000. And Tesla is offering two Autopilot packages for the Model S, Model X, and Model 3 in most regions: Autopilot, which starts at $3,000 ($4,000 if purchased as an upgrade) and enables Autosteer and Traffic Aware Cruise Control, and the $5,000 ($7,000 if purchased as an upgrade) Full Self-Driving Capability, which adds Summon, Autopark, Navigate on Autopilot, and “other features” coming later this year.
Today’s news follows rumors Tesla would reveal Autopilot Hardware 3.0, which it claims is the “world’s most advanced computer for autonomous driving.” Musk previously said that this version is able to handle 2,000 frames per second, compared with the current-gen Autopilot 2.0 computer’s 200 frames per second, and that it will be offered as an upgrade to current Autopilot 2.0 owners.
It’s been a tumultuous few months for the automaker — and for Musk, personally.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission asked a federal judge to hold Musk in contempt of court for violating the terms of a $40 million settlement reached last year. Regulators contend that in a tweet mid-February, he overstated the number of cars Tesla plans to deliver in 2019. (He pegged the number at 500,000, corrected in a subsequent tweet to: “annualized production rate at the end of 2019 probably around 500k, ie 10k cars/week [sic].”) Musk has until March 11 to respond.
In October 2018, Tesla announced it would reduce its full-time staff by 7 percent — cuts Musk blamed on the high price points of the company’s cars.