Tesla launches Model 3 lease, makes $35K edition 'off-menu'

Tesla Model 3 Standard Range dropped from online configurator

Tesla's $35,000 Model 3 is only available as a special order

Its base price will also increase because all Model 3s now come standard with Autopilot driver-assist functionality, previously a $3000 option. The Model 3 Standard Range is now a Standard Range Plus model with software disabling a number of features, including music streaming, navigation and heated seats.

Tesla is also offering a Model 3 lease for the first time, though with a big caveat.

The California-based firm said in a statement that Chinese customers can now order a standard range Model 3 variant whose starting price of 377,000 yuan ($56,167) will make it the cheapest version of the vehicle in China.

Tesla says the changes were motivated by making online ordering more simple as well as responding to market demands.

Tesla is also rolling out the ability to lease a Model 3 "for a small down payment and competitive monthly payments".

In an odd change, Tesla has removed the option of buying its lowest cost Model 3 from its website in Canada.

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Typically at the end of a leasing period, you would buy the auto outright or trade it for a new model with a similar leasing plan.

MobileSyrup has reached out to Tesla to learn about the current price of the Standard Range and Long-Range Rear-Wheel Drive Model 3s.

Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk first talked about his vision of a Tesla shared-vehicle fleet when he unveiled his Master Plan Part Deux in July 2016.

Tesla said customers who choose leasing over owning will not have the option to purchase their auto at the end of the lease, because "with full autonomy coming in the future via an over-the-air software update", Tesla plans to use those vehicles in the Tesla ride-hailing network.

"This latest announcement is further evidence that 2019 will be a bumpy year for Tesla", said analyst Gene Munster of Loup Ventures. Yes, these are the same stores that the EV company announced it was scaling back when it first started selling the low-priced Model 3. Tesla explains that the now $39,500 Model 3 Standard Plus "has sold at more than six times the rate of Standard", so the decision was made to simplify production and focus on the Standard Plus.

Buyers do have the option to unlock those features at a later date, though, essentially upgrading the vehicle from Standard Range to Standard Range Plus.

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