Tesla is finally making a lower-cost Model 3

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The new midrange version of the Model 3 has a single motor and rear-wheel drive, and a battery pack that will go around 260 miles on a charge. The Model 3 state rebate is $2,500 in California and $5,000 in CT.

The current Tesla vehicle line (Roadster, Model S, Model X) ranges in price from $68,000 - $138,800 before tax incentives for electric cars.

The long-promised $35,000 Tesla Model 3 won't appear on the automaker's menu until sometime in 2019, but until then Tesla hopes that a midrange version will satisfy those who don't want to spend on one of the more expensive flavors. Not huge losses overall - the 50-mile drop in range is the main tradeoff.

The midrange version has the same battery pack as the long-range model but uses fewer cells. Offering cheaper versions of the vehicle raised a "big and unanswered question" of Tesla maintaining profit targets for the auto, he said. The long-range rear-wheel-drive vehicle will be available "off menu" for several days. It's priced at $45,000, but Tesla notes that with first deliveries of it made before the end of the year, it will be eligible for both the $7,500 federal EV tax credit and a California incentive of $2,500-bringing the price down to that magic $35k number there, and perhaps below that in some places.

The Model 3 is a four-door compact sedan that can seat up to "five adults comfortably, and the word comfortably is the key", Musk said. Tesla has said that it would not manufacture the base-level version of the Model 3 this year.

The surprise announcement, delivered via tweet to Musk's 23 million followers, comes as Tesla seeks to steer attention away from a chaotic period in which Musk battled with critics, smoked marijuana during an interview and pledged that he had the money to take Tesla private - a promise for which he was sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission, and which he recently settled.

Elon Musk took to Twitter (where else, right?) on Thursday evening to inform his followers of a new addition to the Model 3 lineup.

Tesla says the "standard battery" version will not be available for another 4 to 6 months. It is not clear how numerous more than 400,000 reservations for the Model 3 are for the base models.

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