Tesla Model 3

The fabled ‘affordable’ version of the mass-market EV, Tesla’s Model 3, is one step closer with the addition of an unexpected ‘mid-range’ model to the EV maker’s US website.

The new model, which features rear wheel drive only (compared to the more expensive long range and performance all wheel drive models), was added to the US website late last week and has surprised most Tesla watchers.

Replacing the longer range rear wheel model that was previously on the website, as we captured in last month’s update on the long-awaited EV, the addition of the mid-range model was accompanied by drops in price for the long range model and the white seat option.

(Astute readers will note that with the change of the shop’s interface as well, this is not apparent in the screenshot from last month’s article, also that the prices on this screenshot are taken through a Minnesota IP.)

Tesl;a Model 3 mid-range

Specs for the mid-range model are 418km range, a top speed of 201km/hr and 0-100km/hr in 5.6 seconds, as opposed to 500km range, top speed of 233km/hr and o-100km/hr in 4.5 seconds for the standard long range model (actual battery size is not disclosed in Tesla’s communications).

CEO Elon Musk famously promised that Tesla would eventually deliver a base model EV that would come in at $US35,000, but that to do that straight up would would cause Tesla “to lose money & die”.

On Friday, he tweeted that the new mid-range model would reach that price, but only after “federal & state rebates in California”, adding that the “true cost of ownership is closer to $31k after gas savings”.

Asked if the new mid-range model would carry a new battery or a “software limited” long-range battery, Elon Musk replied that, “It’s a long range battery with fewer cells” — suggesting that the modular battery hinted at in the Q2 investor conference call will be in production sooner than expected.

The starting price of the mid-range battery model is in fact $US45,000, which, as there are lamentably still no rebates for electric cars  will result in a price higher than we mooted last month (around $A48,000)—more like over $A60,000.

When asked by The Driven if Aussies will ever see a Tesla Model 3 in the vicinity of the ‘affordable’ $A50,000 mark that other manufacturers are aiming for, Tesla Australia’s spokesperson would only to the official statement made by the company:

“As Model 3 production and sales continue to grow rapidly, we’ve achieved a steady volume in manufacturing capacity, allowing us to diversify our product offering to even more customers.

Our new Mid-Range Battery is being introduced this week in the U.S. and Canada to better meet the varying range needs of the many customers eager to own Model 3, and our delivery estimate for customers who have ordered the Standard Battery is 4-6 months.”

So, still no closer for Aussies after the cheaper mid-range model, who are at the behest of a right hand drive production date and then, if US and Canada delivery dates are anything to go by, at least another 6 months.

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