$35,000 Tesla Model 3 arrives with 220-mile range, and a $1,200 asterisk

February 28, 2019

The long-promised $35,000 Tesla Model 3 electric car was unveiled Thursday, albeit with a host of asterisks attached to that number. Additionally, the automaker said that it will switch to online-only sales. 

The California-based automaker said that the least-expensive Tesla will have a 220-mile range. The $35,000 Model 3 can be ordered in any color buyers like, as long as it's black. The four optional colors—white, red, blue, and gray—cost as much as $2,500 extra. 

MORE: Tesla Model 3 earns five-star crash-test rating

Other options include 19-inch alloy wheels for $1,500. Tesla's Autopilot semi self-driving tech is a $3,000 option, but the automaker said that an upgraded program that can "recognize and respond to traffic lights and stop signs" to allow for "automatic driving on city streets" costs $5,000 more. Many functions will not be available at the time of purchase.

Buyers who manage to walk through the options list without ticking any boxes are still on the hook for what's likely to be a mandatory $1,200 destination charge, meaning the $35,000 Tesla is really a $36,200 Tesla. 

According to the automaker's website, the first 220-mile Model 3s will be delivered in two to four weeks. The automaker requires a $2,500 deposit when an order is placed.

Tesla quotes a 5.6-second 0-60 mph sprint  for the 220-mile Model 3. 

A $37,000 Model 3 Standard Range Plus version has also been added to the lineup and it has a 240-mile range as well as faster acceleration that shaves 0.3 seconds off of the car's 0-60 mph sprint. The $37,000 Model 3 also has some interior upgrades that bring it more in line with costlier Model 3s. 

Tesla retail strategy shift

The automaker is moving away from its shopping-center outlets to online-only ordering. Instead of allowing test drives, Tesla changed its return policy to a 7-day, 1,000-mile full refund.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk confirmed that the company will lay off some of its retail outlet employees as it moves to online sales.  

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