Tesla’s Missing $35,000 Model 3: Has the Company Built a Single Standard Range Car?

Apr 4, 2019   

The long-promised $35,000 Standard Range Model 3 was made available to order on February 28th, but over a month later not a single customer has taken delivery of the base model car. That leads us to ask the question: has Tesla built a single $35,000 car, or did they make it available to order before they were ready to fulfill it?

Initially, customers were presented with a delivery estimate of 2-4 weeks for the base Standard Range Model 3. This estimate currently stands at 6-8 weeks for new orders after demand outpaced supply. However, it seems clear now to customers with outstanding orders that there may be no supply that’s ready to ship yet. Instead, Standard Range Model 3 customers are being offered an up-sell to more expensive versions of the Model 3. This includes the $37,500 Standard Range Plus model which features a “partial premium” interior with heated leather seats and premium trim.

The base Model 3 includes a more basic interior with textile seating. We have a source from Fremont that states that Tesla is facing manufacturing challenges building the standard interior (which could also be related to cost), and as of March 1st they hadn’t built any cars with a standard interior. It seems that the standard interior may not have been ready at the time that Tesla introduced it, and to our knowledge the company has yet to build a single Standard Range car for a customer.

Per our source, if Tesla has to deliver $35,000 Standard Range cars with a premium interior (perhaps software-locked to the 220 mile/5.6 second 0-60 specs of the base model) to get them out to customers then they are considering that option.

Tesla may have miscalculated the cost and availability of the Standard Range car in order to meet internal goals and do right by patient reservation holders. Still, it is unclear at this point how much more time it will take before a single Standard Range car is delivered.

Real Talk

It would be a costlier mistake for the company to admit they weren’t able to deliver the car they had been promising for over three years than to scrap the idea altogether. Regardless, delays don’t bode well for the future of the Standard Range model. We expect in the future they may make the Standard Range Plus model the base model to streamline manufacturing.

While we respect that Tesla decided to release the $35,000 car in time to meet the most recent quoted February production date instead of delaying it yet again, we are not sure that the company is actually able to produce the car. We hope that they can fix any production issues and get them out to customers with the advertised standard interior as soon as possible, and if not we trust Tesla to do right by those customers — even if they end up breaking even or losing money on every $35,000 Model 3 sold.

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