The release of the Model 3 was supposed to be the moment when Tesla finally made a car that was affordable for the masses.
“In terms of price, it’ll be $35,000,” Musk said at the March 2016 Model 3 announcement event. “And I want to emphasize that even if you buy no options at all, this will still be an amazing car.”
For the last two years, Tesla’s page for the Model 3 has touted a starting price of $35,000. “Model 3 achieves up to 310 miles of range while starting at only $35,000 before incentives,” the page read on Thursday morning.
But later in the day, Tesla revamped the Model 3 page, removing any mention of a $35,000 price (or any other price) in the process.
We asked Tesla about this, and a Tesla spokesperson said that nothing has changed. “Tesla plans to introduce the $35,000 version in the future,” she said—though she couldn’t give a specific time frame for the new lower price.
“It’s a mistake to position this as a change in Tesla’s plan because it’s not,” she told Ars in a phone interview. “We’re just focusing on the options that are available now for our customers so that it’s more clear. There’s nothing else to it.”
Tesla has never taken orders for a $35,000 Model 3. Tesla’s Model 3 order page lists “long range battery” options for $49,000 and $53,000 and a “performance” model for $64,000. The page specifies “standard Battery available in 6-9 months.” Presumably that’s the version that’s supposed to cost $35,000, though the page doesn’t give an expected price.
Currently, it’s still possible to find a mention of the $35,000 price on Tesla’s website if you look hard enough. Tesla’s “press kit” page continues to note that the Model 3 has a “starting price of $35,000 before incentives.”
Tesla CEO Elon Musk explained the delayed availability of the Model 3 in a May tweet:
With production, 1st you need achieve target rate & then smooth out flow to achieve target cost. Shipping min cost Model 3 right away wd cause Tesla to lose money & die. Need 3 to 6 months after 5k/wk to ship $35k Tesla & live.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 21, 2018
Tesla reached a “5k/wk” production rate for the Model 3 at the end of June, so that would have implied that $35,000 Model 3’s would become available some time in the fourth quarter of 2018. But the new “6-9 month” guidance for the standard battery version of the Model 3 suggests that it will now be early 2019 at the earliest before anyone can buy the low-end model.