When Tesla (TSLA 4.06%) first announced its Model 3, consumers were pleased to find out the base price of the vehicle would be $35,000 -- far more affordable than its Model S sedan, which costs more than twice this price. While it took the electric-car maker over a year after the first Model 3 deliveries to bring this cheaper version of the vehicle to market, it did finally follow through on its promise.
On Monday morning, however, we're learning that the automaker has suddenly stopped making $35,000 versions of the car. Will this leave Tesla vehicles out of reach for many people who can't afford to drop over $35,000?
The $35,000 Model 3's elusive history
Though the first Model 3 deliveries started in mid-2017, Tesla didn't start delivering the $35,000 version of the vehicle until early 2019. As the electric-car maker always does, Model 3 deliveries began with the most expensive version of the vehicle as Tesla worked out the kinks in manufacturing and ramped up production in order to bring costs down. The $35,000 version of the Model 3 that launched in 2019 had a smaller battery -- capable of 220 miles of driving range on a single charge.
Not long after the $35,000 Model 3's launch, Tesla removed the vehicle from its website but still sold it as an "off menu" option to customers who called the company and asked to order the car.
Now Tesla seems to have put the final nail in the coffin for the vehicle. The company has reportedly stopped offering a $35,000 version of newly produced Model 3s, according to Electrek. This news comes shortly after the company started selling a refreshed version of the Model 3 with a new center console, new wheels, and more.
For now, the cheapest vehicle Tesla has for sale on its website is its rear-wheel-drive standard range plus version of its Model 3, which can drive 263 miles on a single charge. This vehicle is priced at $37,990.
Tesla's next target: $25,000
While this does curb Tesla's sales potential at lower price points for now, the automaker hasn't abandoned the goal to bring to market more affordable cars.
Earlier this year, Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed at the company's Battery Day Event that the automaker now believes it eventually launch a new vehicle with a starting price of $25,000. The smaller car will include the same hardware for Autopilot and fully autonomous driving that Tesla's other vehicles have, Musk said.
It could be a while, however, before this cheaper vehicle launches. Musk says he currently believes it will launch in about three years.