Tesla's $35,000 Model 3 just got even harder to buy

Tesla's $35,000 Model 3 just got even harder to buy

But online customers will no longer be able to order the Model 3 Standard for $35,000, a long-promised price for a vehicle that has been seen as essential to Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk's ambition to disrupt the auto industry.

"We think including Autopilot is very important because our data strongly indicates that the chance of an accident is much lower when Autopilot is enabled", the company says.

Tesla is also rolling out the ability to lease a Model 3 "for a small down payment and competitive monthly payments".

In a blog post, the electric auto maker outlined the changes that include making the Model 3 Standard only available by phone order or in store.

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From 11 April, the Model 3 leasing program launched in the U.S., too, allowing customers to lease a Model 3 through monthly payments in addition to an initial down payment. (The Model S and Model X can both be leased for 24 months, too.) For all three cars, there's a $695 acquisition fee, and the first month's payment is due when you pick up the auto.

This is because Tesla plans to use those previously leased vehicles in its upcoming ride-hailing network. Tesla said orders for the Standard Range Plus, with 240 miles, a premium stereo, power seats, and upgraded upholstery, outnumbered orders for the base vehicle by 6 to 1.

Interested customers can apply to lease a Tesla now at tesla.com/3. Therefore in order to streamline production Tesla have made the decision to make the Model 3 Standard a software-limited version of the Standard Plus.

The company adds anyone who decides to software-limit a Standard Range Plus to Standard Range specification can do so (at any time) and receive a refund for the difference in costs. Buyers who want it will have to special order it at store locations or on via phone. Thus, the latest iteration of $35,000 Model 3 loses its standard heated seats (sort of) and a couple miles of range (90% of 240 is 216, compared to its original estimated range of 220 miles). Leasing isn't available as an option for the Model Y on Tesla's site, likely because the crossover is so new and not actually on sale yet. The company warns that customers who choose leasing will not have the option to buy the auto at the end of the term, as the vehicles will be used for Tesla's ride-hailing network.

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