Over coming months, electric car pioneer Tesla will shut down most of its showrooms, a move that it says is necessary in order to achieve lower prices to enable it to reach a wider market.
The EV maker has just announced that the cheaper “mass market” Standard Range Model 3 is finally available, a goal which CEO and founder Elon Musk has been working towards for some time now.
To achieve that, Tesla has undertaken several cost-cutting measures in order to remain financially viable while delivering on Musk’s promise.
This has already, controversially, involved laying off 7 per cent of its full time staff and all non-critical contractors and temp staff. At the same time it raised Supercharger prices – before slightly lowering again in a response to customer feedback.
It has also cut its referral program which allowed Tesla owners to refer friends in return for 6 months worth of free charging.
But it’s all for good reason – by moving all sales to online only, it says it will be able to drop all its electric vehicle prices by an average of 6 per cent.
Tesla is so sure its electric vehicles will meet expectations – the Model 3 has after all has been named the car that “brings the most joy” – that it says customers purchasing online will be also able to to return the car within 7 days for a full refund.
At first, this option will only be available for North American customers, as the EV maker states on its website:
You can now buy a Tesla in North America via your phone in about 1 minute, and that capability will soon be extended worldwide. We are also making it much easier to try out and return a Tesla, so that a test drive prior to purchase isn’t needed. You can now return a car within 7 days or 1,000 miles for a full refund.
Quite literally, you could buy a Tesla, drive several hundred miles for a weekend road trip with friends and then return it for free. With the highest consumer satisfaction score of any car on the road, we are confident you will want to keep your Model 3.
Shifting all sales online, combined with other ongoing cost efficiencies, will enable us to lower all vehicle prices by about 6% on average, allowing us to achieve the $35,000 Model 3 price point earlier than we expected.
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.
Earlier this month Tesla dropped the price of its Mid-Range Model 3, down by $US1,100 to $US42,900 ($A60,380) before federal tax incentives and fuel savings, a first move towards making its best-selling EV affordable for a wider market.
While Tesla Australia is not able to comment on if any Australian showrooms will remain open, the EV maker does say it will be increasing its commitment to a service system that is focused on same-day, if not same-hour, service, and the guarantee that this service will be available in any country where Tesla EVs are available for sale.
In addition to the improvements in service and online sales processes, Tesla also says it will be implementing a number of software upgrades that will see increases in range for the rear wheel drive Long Range Model 3 to 325 miles (523km), in top speed for the Performance Model 3 (up to 162mph or 260km/hr), and 5 per cent more peak power for all Model 3 versions.
Responding to questions on Twitter, Elon Musk confirmed the first of these would be in just two weeks time, on March 15, and that for all customers that bought Enhanced Autopilot, the updated version of Navigate on Autopilot that requires no confirmation would be part of the release.
Everyone who bought Enhanced Autopilot will get Navigate on Autopilot on highways, advanced summon & autopark
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 28, 2019
Scheduled for March 15 release, along with many other improvements
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 28, 2019
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.