Tesla unveils $35K Model 3, shifts all sales online

Tesla CEO Elon Musk promised big news and he delivered, despite being called out by the Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this week for violating his settlement with the agency last year.

The electric car-maker unveiled a long-awaited $35,000 base model for its flagship Model 3 sedan on Thursday and said it will gradually shut down showrooms while shifting all worldwide sales online.

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The new version of the Model 3 will have a range of 220 miles, a top speed of 130 miles-per-hour and will be capable of going from 0-60 miles-per-hour in 5.3 seconds. Tesla is also releasing a longer-range version called for Model 3 Standard Range Plus that starts at $37,000.

Additionally, Tesla said it will soon conduct all car sales online “to achieve these prices while remaining financially sustainable.” The company will ramp up its service system to enable “same-day, if not same-hour” transactions.

“Shifting all sales online, combined with other ongoing cost efficiencies, will enable us to lower all vehicle prices by about 6% on average, allowing us to achieve the $35,000 Model 3 price point earlier than we expected,” the company said in a blog post. “Over the next few months, we will be winding down many of our stores, with a small number of stores in high-traffic locations remaining as galleries, showcases and Tesla information centers.”

Musk teased an announcement in a series of tweets earlier this week, writing that he would have “some Tesla news” at 2 p.m. local time on Thursday. The auto company’s shares rose as much as 5 percent on Wednesday after the cryptic posts. As for the SEC, the agency alleged in a federal filing on Monday that Tesla founder Elon Musk violated a settlement with the agency when he tweeted in February about the electric car-maker's 2019 production targets. Musk has until March 11 to respond.

In the hours ahead of the announcement, the Tesla CEO briefly changed his Twitter name to “Elon Tusk,” along with an elephant emoji. The company also disabled the order function on its website, redirecting users to page teasing the announcement.


Pundits speculated that the announcement could be related to anything from Tesla’s burgeoning autonomous driving software to the launch of a long-awaited “Model Y” crossover SUV. Musk said last May that Tesla would unveil the long-teased Model Y on March 15, 2019. Musk later said he made up that date “because the Ides of March sounded good” but confirmed that Tesla planned to unveil the crossover SUV by mid-2019.