When Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, unveiled the Tesla Model 3 way back in 2016, the world took notice. At the time Tesla by far lead the pack in terms of electric vehicles. There was just one con, their prices. The Tesla Model 3 was set to change the world as the first mass produced electric car that didn’t leave a hole in your wallet. At $35,000, it was the electric car everyone dreamed of.
Just a year later, deliveries began. It took a bit longer but the originally stated $35,000 Tesla Model 3 was eventually made available for purchase. 220 miles of range, a 130 mph top speed, and a 0-60 of 5.6 seconds. It offered only basic features such as manual cloth seats and a lower end audio system.
Alongside the Standard Range variant, Tesla also released a Standard Range Plus for $37,000. For just $2,000 more you received a faster car with more range. 240 miles per charge, a top speed of 140 mph, and a 0-60 of just 5.3 seconds. Things quickly changed when the company increased the price to $39,500 and added premium features such as Autopilot, powered and heated front seats, and a premium audio system. The debate between the two quickly grew.
However, Tesla seemingly made the decision easier on everyone. As it turns out, the original Standard Range Model 3 was a lie. The company quickly raised prices once more and got rid of the Standard Range variant on their configurator. We were quick to find out that Tesla was unable to make good on the lack of features promised with the Standard Range. Instead, they began delivering software limited cars. The only difference between a Standard Range Plus and Standard Range was its performance, range numbers, and the exclusion of Autopilot.
So for $4,500 in savings you lost out on 20 miles of range, a bit of performance, and Autopilot. Rest assured, Autopilot was still available as a $3,000 option. Only, the vehicle was no where to be found, and still isn’t. It was removed from the online configurator with no virtual way of ordering. They then went ahead and increased prices once more leaving the Model 3 Standard Range Plus currently at $39,990.
But you could and still can order the cheapest Tesla model, it’s just a tad bit complicated. Since it’s removed from their website, the most affordable Tesla is only accessible over the phone or in person. I know, human contact is dreadful. Tesla has kept quite about the base model since its removal from the site but still honors the originally promised $35,000 price tag.
Is the cheapest Tesla model worth it? Some would argue against. Autopilot is one of Tesla’s largest selling points. Without it, I don’t believe the company would be where they are today. It adds a massive convenience factor and simply makes your life easier. Purchasing the Autopilot option on the Standard Range Model 3 quickly decreases the price gap to just under $2,000. You’ll have to make the decision yourself but for $2,000 I think the software unlocked features such as heated seats, a better audio system, and 10% more range is worth it.
The most affordable Tesla offered is technically not the cheapest Tesla model on the market. If you’re shooting for savings, you might want to take a look in the direction of a used Tesla Model S. For under $30,000 you can get yourself into the most popular car of 2013. Sure, the increased maintenance bills of a used luxury car are a factor but one you might consider? Well for the same price as a new Standard Range Model 3, this used 2013 Tesla Model S offers less range, an outdated interface, and no full self-driving capability. It also has ~50,000 miles of wear and tear.
If you’re looking for a used Model 3, the cheapest on the market is this red 2018 Model 3 Long Range with just ~10,000 miles for only $32,000. Sounds like a good deal? Well, it has a rebuilt title. Used Model 3’s are hard to come by these days and “good” deals are nearly impossible. The Tesla Model 3 currently leads the industry in value retention, losing just 5.5% in value after a year. Some dealerships go as far as to sell these cars for more than they cost new.
Two years since the initial release and the Model 3 is still said by many to be the best deal in the automotive world. At any trim level, the Model 3 will outrank any competitor today. For $48,990 the Long Range Model 3 offers 322 miles of range, a 145 mpg top speed, and a 0-60 of just 4.4 seconds. If performance is your thing, the Performance Model 3 will blow away supercars at the dragstrip for just $56,990. It offers a 0-60 of 3.2 seconds with a top speed of 162 mph while moderately cutting down range to 299 miles. The company now even offers a track package for $5,500. We’ve come a long way since the initial unveiling in 2016.