Tesla is no stranger to change, especially when it comes to its menu. From abrupt price changes to completely axing trims, the electric automaker doesn't wait for model-year changes to stop offering a specific item. The latest victim on Tesla's chopping block is rather ironic, however, as it's the one that made headlines worldwide for bringing EVs to the masses: the $35,000 Model 3.
You might be taken aback by this, as the cheapest Model 3 on Tesla's website right now is actually the Standard Range Plus which costs $37,990 (plus an additional $1,200 in destination fees). However, Tesla has actually been selling the Standard Range Model 3 for quite some time—since February 2019 to be precise. But just months later, Tesla took the Standard Range trim off of its website and made it only possible to purchase the car by visiting a dealership or making a phone call to Tesla directly.
As it turns out, that's no longer possible. According to Electrek, Tesla will no longer offer its elusive and long-promised $35,000 Model 3 following the car's subtle refresh for 2021.
According to a source familiar with the matter, Tesla staff has been informed that they are no longer permitted to "downgrade" any Standard Range Plus cars to the software-limited Standard Range feature set, which limits controllable features like the vehicle's range, zero-to-60 sprint time, and top speed. This limitation reportedly is only for new cars that have not already been allocated to dealer inventory.
It's unclear why Tesla is taking these steps to completely remove the Standard Range trim. Perhaps the automaker is gearing up for yet another pricing change in the near future? Keep in mind that Tesla has recently doubled down on its promise for a cheaper battery-powered commuter priced around $25,000. Details on this are currently still under tight-lipped security at the automaker, though CEO Elon Musk previously mentioned the possibility of this same price point occurring around 2021 if the automaker worked "very hard."
Nobody—except Tesla—knows how many Standard Range Model 3s have been sold, or whether it made sense to still offer the vehicle for sale. However, it's hard to deny that Tesla needs a lower-priced car now more than ever, especially as the competition begins to heat up in the EV sector and it's stark out of EV tax credits. What's more is that as automakers begin to build their own EVs, Tesla's business of selling EV regulatory credits may soon be in trouble.
The writing has been on the wall for Tesla's cheapest Model 3 for quite some time. From a complicated ordering process to a near-zero difference in manufacturing cost, it simply wasn't practical for Tesla to sell the car to the public while also offering a "Plus" version for slightly more, simply for Musk to meet his promise of delivering a $35,000 Model 3.
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