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First $35,000 Tesla Model 3 Finally Delivered Nearly 3 Years After Original Announcement

The cheapest Model 3 Standard Range has already been taken off Tesla's online configurator as it's about to be phased out.

Tesla’s promise of a $35,000 Model 3 has felt a bit similar to your buddy’s assurances that Sasquatch is like, totally real, man. It’s an important car for Tesla, as electric vehicles can’t gain widespread adoption without better options that are within financial reach for more consumers. Yet Tesla’s been rather shady about actually giving consumers that promised cheapest Model 3, known as the Model 3 Standard Range.

Now it’s finally happening, as several customers reportedly explained to Electrek that they’ve received their Model 3 Standard Range cars this week. That $35,000 special is a software-locked version of the more expensive Model 3 Standard Range Plus trim, where the battery pack is kept to 90 percent of its capacity and certain features are disabled, including navigation with live traffic updates, music streaming services, and heated seats. 

It’s been a long wait for customers who ordered the basest of base Model 3s. Tesla first teased a $35,000 entry price at the electric sedan’s unveiling in March 2016, but it just now opened up orders for the Model 3 Standard Range at the end of February 2019 (and only in the United States). Less than a month after the first orders were placed, deliveries of the Model 3 Standard Range were already getting delayed, with owners reporting that Tesla attempted to upsell them to a higher trim during the wait. 

As Electrek points out, the decision to make the Model 3 Standard Range a software-locked version of the Model 3 Standard Range Plus made the production $35,000 car a bit of an upgrade from the one buyers were originally promised. This $35K special has a larger battery pack than planned and premium interiors, as Tesla never even got around to producing the standard interior for the Model 3.

These deliveries are bittersweet for fans of the $35,000 Model 3. The company already announced its intentions to kill off the low-cost variant just last week, before deliveries of the Model 3 Standard Range even happened. It’s already been removed from the online configurator, so owners who want one now will have to ask a Tesla salesperson directly for it in the meantime. Moving a trim off of the online configurator is consistent with how the company has treated other models that were soon to be discontinued in the past. 

Tesla claims there was low demand for the base Model 3 Standard Range, but with a nearly three-year wait for reservations to open up and pervasive pessimism that it’d never be released, of course it wouldn’t sell well. Its low sales were likely by design, to the benefit of the company that makes more cash when it can upsell potential base model buyers to a higher-priced but readily available trim.