Tesla is discontinuing the $35,000 Model 3—yes, again

Tesla has discontinued the $35,000 Model 3—known as the Standard Range—which was already somewhat of a unicorn to begin with.

A $35,000 base price helped stir considerable enthusiasm for the Model 3 ahead of its launch, but Tesla was hesitant to offer that version of the car in large numbers. Now a refresh for the 2021 model year has completely eliminated the cheapest Model 3 from the lineup.

A Tesla sales representative, verified by her manager, told Green Car Reports that any remaining 2020 Model 3 Standard Range Plus cars can be software-limited to Standard Range spec by a Tesla Store to achieve the $35,000 price point. However, 2021 models, which are arriving now, are no longer compatible with this downgrade.

Tesla's original specs for the Model 3 were that it would offer 215 miles of range and start at $35,000. When production started in 2017, the automaker prioritized more-expensive, longer-range, variants.

2020 Tesla Model 3

2020 Tesla Model 3

After teasing a $35,000 Model 3 with a 220-mile range in 2019, Tesla instead made this version an off-menu, special-request proposition.

To streamline production, these cars actually started out as pricier Standard Range Plus models, but got de-contented interiors after assembly, and software to limit how much battery capacity could be used. Tesla did something similar with the Model S at one time, building one battery pack, but using software to limit its capacity for different variants.

With the Standard Range gone, the base Model 3 is now the Standard Range Plus, which starts at $39,190 including the $1,200 destination fee. That gets you rear-wheel drive and an EPA-estimated range of 263 miles.

Tesla is aiming for better affordability. According to Elon Musk, Battery Day breakthroughs will enable a $25,000 Tesla in 2023. Whether Tesla commits to offering such a car in large volumes remains to be seen.

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