Configuring a Tesla Model 3: buyer walks through the process with us

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Very few of the 455,000 people who put down $1,000 to reserve a place in line for the Tesla Model 3 electric car have received the opportunity yet to configure their cars online and place a firm order.

The volume of Model 3s is still apparently at low numbers—a few hundred last month, according to rumors and reports—as the company struggles with what CEO Elon Musk calls "production hell" at its assembly plant in Fremont, California.

Our reader and frequent commenter Shiva, who happens to live in Fremont himself, is one of the lucky few who has received that opportunity.

DON'T MISS: Tesla Model 3 video review compares lower-priced electric car to Model S

What follows are his words about that process, lightly edited by Green Car Reports for clarity and style.

Right before the Thanksgiving holiday, Tesla sent me an email to invite me to configure my Model 3. Based on everything we’ve been told, there were no real surprises.

Clicking on the link takes you to your “My Tesla” account, which you will have if you have a Model 3 reservation. Once you log in, you click “Manage,” which takes you to a page to start designing your car.

2017 Tesla Model 3 electric car online configurator

2017 Tesla Model 3 electric car online configurator

Enlarge Photo

Once there, you are given two options: configure your car as the only available version today (with the long-range battery and premium package for $50,000, including mandatory destination fee) or hold your place in line to be notified when other variations become available.

The latter course is the one to take if you are waiting for the standard battery, dual-motor all-wheel drive, a future higher-performance version, or other versions.

Delivery for the initial production version is estimated at four weeks.

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If you choose to get the first-production car, then you proceed to picking options with this long-range premium Model 3.

The first page shows you what the standard features are and what you get with the long-range battery and the premium package. The larger battery adds $9,000 to the price, while the premium package adds a further $5,000.

Next, you pick an exterior paint color. The only standard color is solid black; everything other choice, from red multi-coat to silver metallic, costs $1,000. It’s worth noting that the Black Obsidian Metallic option offered on the Model S and Model X is not available.

2017 Tesla Model 3 electric car online configurator

2017 Tesla Model 3 electric car online configurator

Enlarge Photo

The come the wheels. The Model 3 comes standard with 18-inch gray aero wheels with removable covers. You can choose larger 19-inch wheels, giving what I think is a sportier look, for another $1,500.

The final option is Autopilot. Tesla offers Enhanced Autopilot for $5,000, which is a driver assistance system that bundles several active-safety features, but future full self-driving capability costs an additional $3,000.

That’s $8,000 in total for full self-driving capability. For either option, if you decline to pay for it when you order but then choose to enable the option after delivery, Tesla will charge you an additional $1,000 to do so.

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The final section is payment. Tesla requires a $2,500 deposit to place your order.

After a week, the deposit becomes non-refundable, just as it does ordering a Model S or Model X—meaning changes to your car can only be made within the seven-day period.

Right now, Tesla is only accepting cash or financing for payment. There is no option to lease the car today, although that is expected to become available sometime next year.

For detailed information about the configuration process, Tesla has a page with Frequently Asked Questions.

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