• Image Credit: Tesla
  • Image Credit: Tesla
  • Image Credit: Tesla
  • Image Credit: Tesla
  • Image Credit: Tesla
  • Image Credit: Tesla
  • Image Credit: Tesla
  • Image Credit: Tesla
  • Image Credit: Tesla
  • Image Credit: Tesla
  • Image Credit: Tesla
  • Image Credit: Tesla
  • Image Credit: Tesla
  • Image Credit: Tesla
  • Image Credit: Tesla
Tesla made a big deal about its Model 3's base price of $35,000 and how that makes it attractive to a whole new range of buyers who couldn't afford its more expensive Model S or Model X. While it's certainly true that a Model 3 will be cheapest way to get into a brand-new Tesla, let's be clear that there will be practically zero Model 3s at its base starting price of $35,000. Here's why.

Choosing any color other than black raises the Model 3's price by a grand. If you want an upgraded interior package, that'll be $5,000. To be fair, a package that includes upgraded 12-way power heated seats, open-pore wood trim, a higher-end audio system, and a center console with docking for two smartphones is very attractive at that $5K price point. It's such a good deal, in fact, that we'd be surprised if most Model 3s weren't so equipped, which raises the non-black EV to $41,000.

Another of Tesla's well-publicized features is Autopilot. All Model 3s get some assisted driving features, such as emergency braking and collision avoidance. But if you want a Model 3 that will stay in its own lane at the speed of traffic, exit freeways autonomously, and self-park itself, that'll be another $5,000. Granted, not everyone is going to want those features, but if they do, that'll raise the cost of our hypothetical Model 3 to $46,000.

At some point in the future, Tesla promises to enable full self-driving capability to the Model 3. There's currently no timetable for activation of this technology, and Tesla says it may vary by location due to the need for regulatory approval. Still, if you want to future-proof a Model 3 with this potential capability, it will cost another $3,000 over the $5,000 cost of the Autopilot kit.

Bear in mind that we're talking about the standard Model 3 that boasts a range of 220 miles and does 0-60 in 5.6 seconds. The long-range Model 3 with a range of 310 miles and a 0-60 time of 5.1 seconds (it also charges faster and can go 10 mph faster flat-out) starts at $44,000. It's these long-range Model 3s that are currently being built. The standard model with its $35,000 sticker has a planned production start date of November, 2017.

All the same options we discussed – upgraded interior and autonomous hardware – are available on the long-range Model 3 just as they are on the standard version. Piling all those same options on the long-range Model 3 brings us to $58,000. We're in no position to opine on the value proposition of any Model 3 considering that we've yet to see one in person for a detailed analysis, let alone drive one. Also, every single car sold in America has an advertised base price that quickly rises with options. But the fact remains that very few people will actually buy a $35,000 Tesla Model 3.

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