The arrival of the Tesla Model 3 in Australia is fast approaching, and the question on the lips of many a reservation holder – and there are believed to be thousands – is still this: how much will it cost?
Musk confirmed on the weekend that order pages for the RHD drive Model 3 will be online with weeks (and word is that this is for all RHD drive markets, which includes of course Australia), setting off discussion again about where the Model 3 will fit into the (limited) Australian EV market price-wise.
There are a number of theories, although as noted by Giles Parkinson in his article on how much the Model 3 will cost, Tesla is keeping tight-lipped.
However an email purported to be from Tesla written to a potential Australian customer has now come to light via a Whirlpool forum post that indicates that the Model 3 may start as low as $A60,000, although it comes with a big caveat about whether auto-pilot will now come standard, or remain an option.
The response is in-line with Musk’s tweets that the RHD order pages will soon be live, and that pricing as well as local specifications will be announced this quarter:
We don’t have an exact price or delivery date for Australia yet but we’re looking to confirm local specifications and pricing in the second quarter of this year and to begin local deliveries in the third quarter of this year.
We will be inviting reservation holders to choose their options and place their order early-to-mid 2019 and will be sending out these invitations in batches. The cars will then be built and shipped to Australia, this typically takes 3 months.
Unfortunately the response also suggests that delivery would be around 3 months from order – so for Tesla to meet Musk’s promise of deliveries starting by July, the order page would need to go live within the next fortnight.
The response also notes factors that Tesla has already indicated form part of the equation for Australian pricing – and that the starting price may be around $A60,000.
As we get closer to the middle of the year we will be able to confirm more and more information however at this stage Model 3 details are only confirmed for the vehicles in production at the moment as local pricing will depend on US base price, exchange rate, shipping cost, duties, taxes, insurance and registration costs in your state/territory when the car actually goes on sale.
If everything stays where it is now we’re expecting the price to start around $60,000 drive-away.
(Note: see correction at bottom of article)
Perhaps Musk is aware that in Australia the cost of electric cars is a massive barrier for many wanting to switch to zero emissions transport?
This is significant, as it would bring the Model 3 in competitive range with the only other longer-range EV available currently on the Australian market – the Hyundai Kona, which starts at $A59,990.
But it also goes to model availability – while Tesla have previously said (as noted by Parkinson) all Model 3 versions available in the US will be made available in Australia – another big question has been when.
As in the US, Tesla at first only made the Performance and Long Range available in Europe and China – but since the introduction of the Standard Range Model 3, there are now cheaper versions of the best-selling electric sedan available in all markets.
However, while the true Standard Range Model 3 is available in China for 377,000RMB ($A78,000), it is only the upgraded Standard Range Plus that is now available in European markets in addition to the Performance and Long Range versions.
Now, it appears that Australia may be the recipient of the Standard Range Model 3, and which an interactive spreadsheet on Model 3 prices in Australia made by aspiring Model 3 owner, Alexei Watson, previously suggested may cost around $A62,000 – at least to begin with.
Reports out of the US are that buyers have only just started receiving their Standard Range Model 3s, and it is expected that its availability will be short-lived, with Tesla stating late last week in a post entitled “An Update to our Vehicle Lineup” that it would introduce instead a leasing model for the base Model 3.
The leasing model, which has not been slated for Australia (yet), does not allow for a purchase option at the end of the lease however – with the used Model 3s, Tesla is planning to create an autonomous ride-sharing network, that will use the EV maker’s Autopilot self-driving software.
Which brings us to the final point – Tesla also announced in its Lineup post that Autopilot will now be bundled in with all models (adding $US2,000 to the price).
Today, we’re making some changes to online ordering to simplify vehicle choices and make Autopilot more affordable.
All Tesla vehicles now come with Autopilot bundled as a standard feature for less than the prior cost of the option. For example, Model 3 Standard Plus used to cost $US37,500, plus $US3,000 for the Autopilot option. It now costs $US39,500, with Autopilot included.
It must be noted that this post is not available on the Australian Tesla news page, which means it does not apply to Australia for now, but it’s hard to imagine it won’t.
If and when Autopilot does become standard for Tesla cars in Australia, and the Standard Range Model 3 is no longer available (if it ever is), a minimum Standard Range Plus with Aut0pilot, even without any other extras, will possibly start at just under $A70,000.
Correction: Tesla Australia have confirmed Wednesday morning that the price of the Model 3 stated in the email sent to a reservation holder above is not correct and pricing has not yet been set.
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.