Elon Musk took to Twitter (where else, right?) on Thursday evening to inform his followers of a new addition to the Model 3 lineup. This is not the long-awaited $35,000 version, however; the mid-range Model 3 starts at $45,000. Musk also revealed that the Model 3 ordering process has been simplified and now has fewer options. One that's missing—from all new Tesla orders, not just the Model 3—is the controversial "full self-driving" option. The reason? It was "causing too much confusion," Musk tweeted.
The mid-range Model 3s will be rear-wheel drive only, prompting some to wonder if the company was using software to limit battery capacity on existing RWD inventory in order to get it out of the door. But Tesla says it's able to build these slightly cheaper cars by using the same battery pack as the more expensive, longer-range cars but with fewer cells inside.
However, Tesla is promoting the car as costing as little as $30,700 by factoring in "gas savings" and all possible federal and local electric vehicle tax incentives (but not the destination charge). That it did so is a little surprising; just seven days ago Tesla said that it could not guarantee any order received after October 15th would ship before the beginning of next year. Any new Tesla delivered after January 1st 2019 (but before July 1st 2019) is only eligible for a $3,750 IRS credit. Tesla says delivery for the new mid-range Model 3 should take six to 10 weeks.
The cheaper "standard-range" Model 3 is still absent from the new, simplified ordering page, and the company has made no secret of the fact that it cannot afford to lose money selling the cheaper cars, no matter the demand. Musk did hint that the cheapest Model 3 may arrive early next year, tweeting that shipping cars with partially filled battery packs was better than waiting until February.
Potential customers in countries other than the US and Canada will also have to continue to wait. We asked Tesla why it's adding a new configuration of Model 3 instead of selling higher-margin all-wheel drive models in other markets, but we did not receive a reply. As for when European homologation might happen, your guess is as good as ours.