All Tesla cars — except the $35,000 Model 3 — will now come with Autopilot, according to a blog post from the company today, which will mean a price hike for the base versions of the cars. The $35,000 Model 3 will no longer be available online, and several features, including heated seats, will be disabled.
Cars that come with Autopilot standard will cost more than the base models used to — though less than what the option added on would have cost. “For example, Model 3 Standard Plus used to cost $37,500, plus $3,000 for the Autopilot option,” Tesla’s post says. “It now costs $39,500, with Autopilot included.” That’s $1,000 less than the Standard Plus with Autopilot, but $2,500 more than the Standard alone.
This price change doesn’t apply to the $35,000 Model 3 with Standard Range battery, which consumers will still be able to buy without Autopilot, according to a spokesperson. This vehicle, however, is not offered on the website anymore — the cheapest option online is the Model 3 Standard Plus. The $35,000 Model 3 will be range-limited by software to 220 miles, and its music streaming service, navigation and heated seats will be disabled. But because it’s disabled through software, drivers can upgrade to a Standard Plus any time they want, the company says. Tesla will begin delivering the Model 3 Standard this weekend, according to the post.
$35,000 was meant to be the base price for the Model 3 line ever since its announcement in 2016. But Tesla put higher-priced versions of the car into production first, with CEO Elon Musk saying in 2018 that Tesla would “die” if it sold the base version too soon. Musk introduced the $35,000 Model 3 in February, and Tesla started taking online orders for the car then.
Tesla says six times as many people bought the Model 3 Standard Plus, which has a range of 240 miles, compared to the Model 3 Standard Range. So the Model 3 Standard will only be available if customers call Tesla or visit a Tesla store. Anyone who’s bought the Standard Plus but would rather have a cheaper car can experience the Model 3 Standard’s limitations and receive a refund.
The Model 3 Long Range Rear-Wheel Drive will also only be available over the phone and through stores, the company announced. “We’re making these changes to ensure that our online order process is focused exclusively on the three Model 3 variants customers want most,” the company says in its post.
Recently, Tesla tweaked Autopilot into two packages: regular, which allows automatic steering on highways and traffic-aware cruise control, and Full Self-Driving. Full Self-Driving includes the “Navigate on Autopilot” feature that suggests and makes lane changes, as well as navigates highway interchanges and exits. The regular package is what will now come standard with all Tesla cars.
Also, customers will now be able to lease a Model 3, though they won’t be able to buy it when the lease is up — Tesla plans “to use those vehicles in the Tesla ride-hailing network,” the post says. To be clear, no such network yet exists. But Tesla has been more vocal in the last month about the plan for an autonomous taxi fleet. A week ago, Musk tweeted that an interior camera in the Model 3 existed so the cars could be used as taxis. “It’s there for when we start competing with Uber/Lyft,” he said at the time.