Tesla tweaks line-up, makes $35,000 Model 3 a special request item

Tesla Model 3. Matthew DeBord  BI

It hasn't even been two months since Tesla unveiled the long-awaited $35,000 Model 3, but it's already been removed from the online configurator, relegating it to off-menu ordering, like a weird Jamba Juice smoothie. All Tesla vehicles that can be ordered online now come with the driver-assistance system Autopilot standard, the company said in a blog post.

Dubbed 'Standard Range', the entry-level Model 3 offered 220mi (354km) of range, and a 0-60mph (0-97km/h) time of 5.6 seconds. Now, it goes for $39,500 with Autopilot included.

As to why Autopilot is now a standard feature, Tesla explains that, "our data strongly indicates that the chance of an accident is much lower when Autopilot is enabled".

According to Tesla reviews, use of the tool greatly enhances an owner's driving experience, particularly in heavy traffic.

On its ordering website, Tesla's default options are for customers to make a US$3,000 down payment and spend a total of US$4,199 at signing of a three-year, 10,000-mile annual lease. (The Model S and Model X can both be leased for 24 months, too.) For all three cars, there's a $695 acquisition fee, and the first month's payment is due when you pick up the auto.

Interestingly-and maybe annoyingly for potential customers-Tesla says that leased cars will not be available to purchase once the lease has run out.

This is because Tesla plans to use those previously leased vehicles in its upcoming ride-hailing network.

Interested customers can apply to lease a Tesla now at tesla.com/3. Our assumption is that European and Chinese buyers will be able to order the base model in the same manner as in the United States - by calling or ordering from a Tesla store.

Tesla said the move was largely due to the fact that the Plus has been outselling the Standard Range by a factor of 6 to 1.

According to Tesla the demand for the Standard Plus blew them away, selling at six times the rate of Standard.

"Given the popularity of the Standard Plus relative to the Standard, we have made the decision to simplify our production operations to better optimize cost, minimize complexity and streamline operations", Tesla says. Several features will be disabled including the vehicle company's onboard music streaming service, navigation with live traffic visualization, and heated seats.

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