Today Tesla finally began selling the long-awaited $35,000 version of the Model 3, with a standard interior and 220 miles of range.
They also announced some surprising news about how they'll be selling their cars going forward:
To achieve these prices while remaining financially sustainable, Tesla is shifting sales worldwide to online only. You can now buy a Tesla in North America via your phone in about 1 minute, and that capability will soon be extended worldwide. We are also making it much easier to try out and return a Tesla, so that a test drive prior to purchase isn’t needed. You can now return a car within 7 days or 1,000 miles for a full refund. Quite literally, you could buy a Tesla, drive several hundred miles for a weekend road trip with friends and then return it for free.
This seems like a bold move that could allow Tesla to focus their efforts less on retail showrooms and more on expanding their service center infrastructure, while also possibly sidestepping some of the long battles they've been fighting with several US states that have laws against car manufacturers selling directly to consumers.
On the other hand, even with a generous 7-day return window, not being able to test drive a Tesla before buying it could turn off a lot of customers. That kind of thing may be fine for higher income buyers, but who wants to take out a loan just to try out a car you're not sure you'll keep? Even if Tesla guarantees a refund, that's a huge pain.
But that's not all! Tesla also announced some exciting news for existing Model 3 owners:
We’re also excited to announce that we’re implementing a number of firmware upgrades for both new and existing customers. These upgrades will increase the range of the Long Range Rear-Wheel Drive Model 3 to 325 miles, increase the top speed of Model 3 Performance to 162 mph, and add an average of approximately 5% peak power to all Model 3 vehicles.
I'm pretty stoked about this one. The car I bought last year is going to get 15 miles more range and 5% more power for free. It just keeps getting better! 😄
📷 My Model 3 back when it was 5% slower and had 15 miles less range