The Tesla Model 3 is Great But…
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The Tesla Model 3 is Great But…

The Tesla Model 3 is Great But…

Over the weekend Tesla held what they call a “handover event” for the first few Model 3’s that were ready for delivery. It was a big moment for the company and for many people who have put down deposits, because they are now one step closer to getting behind the wheel of the Model 3.

As many of you know, I love cars of all kinds and I’m impressed with what Tesla has been able to accomplish. However, I have a slight Model 3 problem that has been bothering me for a while now but has really festered after this weekend. Lots of people are talking about the Model 3, how they plan on ordering one, that it is going to be $35,000, and so on. The problem I’m having is not with the car, but rather the idea that the $35,000 version is the one you want. I’ve been reviewing the press kit from Tesla on the Model 3 and it lists the options and what they will cost. You see, the Internet is a funny place and I genuinely believe there are lots of people who think they are simply getting a smaller Model S with plenty of power, range, and luxury for $35,000.

Like most cars, the base price model isn’t really the one you want. This is true of pretty much every manufacturer you could name. I think, in this case, people are so excited to get their hands on a Tesla they can afford, they have forgotten this fact. Let me better explain what I mean.

This is the list of standard equipment, directly from the Tesla Model 3 Press Kit. Read below to see what you get for $35,000. Right away we can see a range of 220 miles, something called textile seating (not leather), and nothing about self-driving or glass roofs. I should also mention the 5.6 second 0-60 time, which isn’t slow and would be fine for pretty much everyone unless you’ve been dreaming of Tesla’s “ludicrous mode.” (Scroll past the standard equipment to see options and pricing).


Price – $35,000

Standard Battery

  • Range: 220 miles (EPA estimated)
  • Supercharging rate: 130 miles of range per 30 minutes
  • Home charging rate: 30 miles of range per hour (240V outlet, 32A)
  • Deliveries begin: Fall 2017


  • 0-60 mph: 5.6 seconds
  • Top speed: 130 mph


  • 15” touchscreen display
  • Dual zone climate control system
  • FM/Internet streaming radio
  • Textile seating
  • Front center console with open storage and two USB ports


  • Onboard maps and navigation
  • Wi-Fi and LTE internet connectivity
  • Keyless entry and remote climate control using the Tesla app
  • Voice activated controls
  • Bluetooth hands-free calling and media streaming
  • 60/40 split folding rear seat to maximize cargo options
  • Back-up camera
  • Auto dimming rear-view mirror
  • One-touch power windows throughout
  • Power-adjustable side mirrors
  • 12-volt power outlet


  • Full LED exterior lighting
  • Eight cameras, forward radar and twelve ultrasonic sensors enabling active safety technologies including collision avoidance and automatic emergency braking
  • Six front row and two side curtain airbags
  • Three-point safety belts with belt-reminders for driver and four passengers
  • Two LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) attachments in second row
  • Electronic stability and traction control
  • Four-wheel antilock disc brakes with electronic parking brake
  • Child safety locks
  • Anti-theft alarm system
  • Tire pressure monitoring system


  • Vehicle: 4 year, 50,000 mile limited warranty
  • Battery warranty: 8 year, 100,000 mile (120,000 mile with Long Range Battery)

Now we get to the options list. As you can see, if you want a blue car with self-driving tech and 310 miles of range, along with leather seats and an upgraded interior plus the glass roof – the sticker price is now $55,000. Don’t misunderstand the point I’m trying to make. There is nothing wrong with a $55,000 Model 3 and yes, that is still quite a bit cheaper than a Model S, but if you were planning on spending $35,000 for a cutting edge luxury car that has all the latest and greatest tech, it’s simply not possible at this time.



Long Range Battery – $9,000

  • Range: 310 miles
  • Supercharging rate: 170 miles of range per 30 minutes
  • Home charging rate: 37 miles of range per hour (240V outlet, 40A)
  • 0-60 mph: 5.1 seconds
  • Top speed: 140 mph
  • Deliveries begin: July 2017


  • Solid Black: Standard
  • Midnight Silver Metallic: $1,000
  • Deep Blue Metallic: $1,000
  • Silver Metallic: $1,000
  • Pearl White Multi-Coat: $1,000
  • Red Multi-Coat: $1,000


  • 18” Aero: Standard
  • 19” Sport: $1,500

Premium Upgrades Package – $5,000
Upgraded interior with additional features and premium materials.

  • Premium heated seating and cabin materials throughout, including open pore wood décor and two rear USBs
  • 12-way, power adjustable front seats, steering column and side mirrors, with custom driver profiles
  • Premium audio system with more power, tweeters, surround speakers and subwoofer
  • Tinted glass roof with ultraviolet and infrared protection
  • Auto dimming, power folding, heated side mirrors
  • LED fog lamps
  • Center console with covered storage and docking for two smartphones

Enhanced Autopilot – $5,000
Model 3 will match speed to traffic conditions, keep within a lane, automatically change lanes, transition from one freeway to another, exit the freeway and self-park at your destination.

Additional features will roll out over time through software updates.

Full Self-Driving Capability – $3,000 (requires Enhanced Autopilot)
In the future, Model 3 will be capable of conducting trips with no action required by the person in the driver’s seat.

This feature is dependent upon extensive software validation and regulatory approval, which may vary by jurisdiction.

I have spent lots of time studying the options list and these days, generally speaking, I think you can reasonably expect the sticker price for the version you actually want to cost at least $10,000 more than the base price, no matter the company. All of this is fine but I keep hearing people say they are getting Model 3 with everything for $35,000 and it’s going to be the greatest thing ever and their general tone is one of someone who has gamed the system somehow. I’m not sure how this thinking got started and I certainly don’t blame Tesla. It is an exciting car, no question, but is it $55,000 exciting? I’m not sure because you can push it even closer to $60,000 with full self-driving and upgraded wheels. For that kind of money, why not get a slightly pre-owned Model S? At least then supercharging would be free. By the way, you may not be aware that supercharging will be pay per use with Model 3. It’s important to keep in mind the Model 3 is the entry level car for the world of Tesla, so you can’t expect things to be like they are at the $100,000 level. It’s the same difference between the BMW 3 and 7-Series models. It’s also important to note the Model 3 only has 15 cubic feet of cargo space, which isn’t much, and it’s split between the two trunks. It’s almost exactly the same cargo space as a Porsche Cayman. None of this is a problem unless your expectations are out of sorts.

Bottom line: The Model 3 is a car that is gaining a lot of attention. Many people feel they will be part of the future by owning one and I’ve met plenty of people who didn’t care about cars before Tesla came along. That in itself is exciting. If the idea of a $55,000 car is fine with you, then that’s great, too. But if you are placing your order thinking the $35,000 version is just a smaller Model S with all the bells and whistles you’ve read so much about, you just need to know that it isn’t.

Photos/Video Courtesy: Tesla

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