The phasing-out of online Model 3 Standard sales comes a week after Tesla announced disappointing first-quarter auto deliveries. Going forward, the Standard Range Plus will be the entry-level option when ordering online. It now costs US$39,500 with Autopilot included.
"We think including Autopilot is very important because our data strongly indicates that the chance of an accident is much lower when Autopilot is enabled", the company says.
According to Tesla reviews, use of the tool greatly enhances an owner's driving experience, particularly in heavy traffic. Leasing options were also provided for the newest Tesla. The lease runs for 36 months, and lessees can choose from three annual mileage allotments - 10,000, 12,000 or 15,000 miles per year.
Tesla has been adjusting prices of its USA -made cars in China to remain affordable in the country, a move also aimed at fending off competition from a swathe of domestic EV startups such as Nio Inc, Byton and XPeng Motors.
Typically at the end of a leasing period, you would buy the vehicle outright or trade it for a new model with a similar leasing plan. Lessees will not be able to purchase the vehicle at the end of the lease period.
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However, unlike other leasing programs, Model 3 customers will not be able to buy their vehicle following the conclusion of the leasing term, as Tesla plans to use these vehicles in its upcoming ride-hailing network in conjunction with full autonomy.
Interested customers can apply to lease a Tesla now at tesla.com/3.
The announcement reverses Tesla's announcement on February 28 that the $35,000 model could only be purchased online.
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. It will be software limited to a 220 mile range, and music streaming, navigation and heated seats will be software disabled.
In responding a follower on Twitter encouraged Tesla owners to buy a product that covers up a camera over the rear-view mirror of their cars, Musk, 47, confirmed for the first time that the objective of the camera was to record video when owners put their auto on the network. Opening up the SR+ for orders now will allow Tesla to gauge the demand mix, and plan production and delivery timing for the different variants.