Most Tesla Model 3s will cost more than $35,000 — here’s why

tesla model 3

The Tesla Model 3’s main selling point is its combination of a $35,000 base price and a range of over 200 miles. It’s a big step toward making electric cars practical for a larger number of people. But most of the Model 3s that roll out of Tesla’s California factory will probably sell for much more than $35,000.

Like any other car, the price of a Model 3 can rise quickly with options. Now that Tesla has released all of the relevant pricing information, we know exactly how fast. First off, if you want a Model 3 in any color other than black, it will cost $1,000. And that’s just the start.

Another reason why the Model 3 is attracting so much hype is because people view it as a more affordable way to access Tesla tech, like the vaunted Autopilot system. While the Model 3 does come standard with driver-assist features like autonomous emergency braking and collision avoidance, the full suite of Autopilot features, including autonomous lane changing on highways and self parking, costs $5,000.

Tesla also believes fully autonomous driving is just over the horizon. It’s offering customers the option to pre-equip their cars for self-driving capability for $3,000. Tesla won’t discuss a timeline for deployment of these features yet.

The $35,000 base price buys a 220-mile range, 0 to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds, and a top speed of 130 mph. But Tesla also offers a Long Range version, starting at $44,000. The Long Range model can travel up to 310 miles on a charge, does 0 to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds, and has a top speed of 140 mph. It also charges faster than the base model, and Long Range customers will get their cars sooner. Production of the base model doesn’t start until November.

A $5,000 Premium Upgrades package adds 12-way power heated front seats, open-pore wood trim, a nicer audio system, power adjustable steering, heated exterior mirrors, and a center console with two USB ports. Tesla offers 18-inch wheels as standard equipment, with 19-inch wheels a $1,500 option. All-wheel drive will also become available at a later date, for an unspecified cost.

Adding every available option to the Long Range model brings the total cost to $59,500, plus whatever all-wheel drive ends up costing. Even with the $7,500 federal tax credit for electric cars, it will be easy for customers to spend significantly more than $35,000 on a Model 3. A price that quickly rises with options isn’t unique to Tesla, but it’s worth noting that many Model 3s will probably sell for much more than that much-quoted base price.