In 2016, Tesla created a fever pitch over its Model 3 promise: $35,000 with a range of 220 miles. The company claimed more than 450,000 reservations were made for the Model 3, at $1,000 each, in part because of that low price and high range.
On Thursday, Tesla announced that its entry-level Model 3 is finally available and will be delivered to buyers in two to four weeks. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the low-price Model 3 will be available for ordering outside the U.S. in three to six months.
The Standard Range model, which costs $36,200 after a mandatory destination and documents fee, is listed with specifications that include a 130-mph top speed and a 0-60 mph acceleration time in 5.6 seconds.
Musk also underscored that the Model 3 will offer the same safety level as other Model 3 versions, with all the equipment required for Full Self Driving—a term that the company has now revived—in the future.
Another new Model 3, the Standard Range Plus, will cost $38,200 and bring 240 miles of range, with a top speed of 140 mph and 5.3-second acceleration.
The Standard Range model's interior will be slightly better than originally promised, as Musk put it. The Plus includes a so-called Partial Premium interior.
The Model 3 Long Range also gets a boost in EPA-rated range, to 325 miles. Tesla also raised the top speed of the Model 3 Performance to 162 mph.
“After a lot of testing, we now feel we can increase that limit by 7 mph, via an rpm increase in the motors, which are spinning in the vicinity of 19,000 rpm,” Musk said.
Tesla Store Los Angeles [photo: Misha Bruk / MBH Architects]
There was also a major change announced relating to how Tesla sells vehicles. Tesla will only sell its cars online now, a strategy that could help the company circumvent the franchise model in some states.
"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 company said in a statement.
However, Tesla will also hire more service technicians, Musk said. A priority this year “is making service amazing at Tesla,” he said.
Model S and Model X prices will also be reduced in going to the online-only approach.
What remains to be seen is how much new spark these changes will give Model 3 orders and sales. Musk said that he couldn’t guess on demand, but he reiterated that he thought there was demand globally for a half a million Model 3 vehicles per year.
Early reservation-holders will still get priority for the $35,000 Model 3 Standard Range, Musk said—referring to the masses who placed an early deposit with Tesla but still haven't placed an order for a Model 3.
And if those who did that still don't see what they're looking for, it's probably time to move on.