Tesla Has More Bad News for All the $35K Model 3 Hopefuls

Screengrab of Tesla Model 3 in white
For consumers who wanted the affordable Tesla Model 3, the car isn’t any closer in reach. | Tesla

The latest Tesla news had different implications for Model 3 reservation holders.

As has become typical for the company, the good news was for the vehicle’s high-end consumers. Anyone purchasing a long-range ($49,000 and up) or dual-motor Model 3 ($69,400 and up) could put down another deposit ($2,500) and configure their car, CNBC reported.

As for the multitude hoping to get their $35,000 Model 3 soon, more bad news arrived. In brief, if you’re still hoping for an “an affordable Tesla,” you’ll be waiting well into 2019 — and you won’t be getting the $7,500 electric vehicle tax credit.

Earliest date for $35K model is 2019

With the priciest Model 3s getting earmarked for production, that leave at least 100,000 people hoping for an affordable model back to the wishing well. According to a Business Insider report, Tesla admitted the day wouldn’t come for reservation holders until 6-9 months from now.

Starting on June 29, that leaves the date anywhere from New Year’s Eve 2018 to April 2019. That would be precisely three years from the date many of those reservation holders first put down $1,000.

Once again, it’s easy to see why so many Model 3 reservation holders have gotten their deposits refunded in recent months. Between the waiting, the lack of a timeline, and the risk of missing out on the $7,500 tax credit, the car just has become more trouble than it’s worth for many people.

Expect more reservation holders to bail

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, with a Powerpack unit the background
Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla | Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

With the surge in Model 3 deposit refunds and the latest news, Tesla will have to expect many more reservation holders to ask for their money back.

Compared to the $2,500 in new cash, that loss might not sting at first. However, if Tesla is to break through and become a mass-market automaker, it toes a dangerous line by allowing so many potential buyers to walk away.

It’s nothing new for the company, of course, but it goes against everything Musk said the company was doing in his “master plan.” Instead of the affordable model he’d planned, so far Tesla has merely delivered a smaller, not-as-quick version of the Model S.

Prices, which have started at $49,000 and gone up, are basically on par with the price of the Model S in 2009. That’s why folks like us wonder if there we’ll ever see the base Model 3.

To date, Tesla has been a luxury car maker, and it still is in 2018.

A brief history of tossed-out dates for the $35K model

We’ve gone through this timeline with readers on several occasions, but we’ll plow through it once more for reference. Since people placed reservations for the $35,000 Model 3 on March 31, 2016, there have been multiple delays.

  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk shocked the world by saying the company would be cranking out 20,000 Model 3s per month by late 2017.
  • Tesla recanted by late 2017, saying the base models would arrive in “early 2018.”
  • Another delay (“production hell,” maybe?) sent the affordable model into “late 2018.”
  • By June 2018, Tesla conceded the $35,000 model wouldn’t arrive until early-to-mid 2019.

Unfortunately for folks who thought they could hold out until 2019 and claim that $7,500, time is not on your side. Reliable timetables have Tesla hitting its limit in the third quarter of 2018. By the end of the fourth quarter, that full amount will be unavailable.

Starting in 2019, the most buyers could get is half ($3,750). However, but June 2019, even that will be gone. Adding any option onto a $36,200 Tesla (Model 3 after delivery) will push the car closer to $40,000.

That’s as cheap as a Tesla will ever get.