The $35,000 Standard Range model - the one with cloth seats where black is the only free color - has been removed from Tesla's site, meaning it's only available to order via phone or a trip to an actual Tesla store. The Model 3 with Standard Plus now costs US$39,500 with Autopilot included.
Besides the potential need for some good press, there are certainly other reasons why Tesla would feel pressure to deliver on its own self-imposed goal of a $35,000 Model 3 right now as opposed to later this year or even next year.
The announcement comes after reports of delayed delivery for those buyers who purchased a Model 3 SR-78 percent of which were online sales-and there have been multiple reports of buyers being contacted by Tesla sales representatives attempting to convince them to upgrade to more premium features.
Faced with slumping sales and increasing financial stresses, Tesla has shifted course several times in the last two months, deciding to keep stores after saying it would close most and cutting prices before raising them again. Conversely, buyers can also downgrade to the Standard Range vehicle whenever he or she desires and Tesla will refund the price difference.
The company also said the Standard variant of Model 3 will now be a software-limited version of the Standard Plus, to simplify production.
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.
Finally, leasing has come to the Model 3.
To make the vehicle more affordable, Tesla also announced that it will offer leases on the Model 3. U.S. customers can choose from 10,000, 12,000 and 15,000 mile annual usage options, depending on their budgets and driving. Jumping to the automaker's official website shows some rather unimpressive terms. The company might be playing it fast and loose with the word "competitive". American buyers will only get a tax credit of $3,750 for the next couple of months before the credit drops to $1,875 for the remainder of the year.
There's also a catch to Model 3 leasing.
It's important to highlight that "customers who choose leasing over owning will not have the option to purchase their vehicle at the end of the lease". Tesla intends to use those vehicles as part of its coming autonomous ride-hailing network, a service dubbed as the Tesla Network.