Tesla justifies this decision by saying that the "Standard Plus" (announced at the same time as the "Standard" $35,000 Model 3) was selling at six times the rate of the "Standard." Therefore, Tesla says it's simplifying things to "optimize cost, minimize complexity and streamline operations."
The statement from the company goes on to detail what off-the-menu Standard Model 3s will consist of. "Its range will be limited by 10%, and several features will be disabled via software including our onboard music streaming service, navigation with live traffic visualization and heated seats." Tesla says anybody wishing to upgrade to a Standard Plus after purchasing the de-contented Standard is welcome to do so for a fee. Interestingly, Tesla says you'll be allowed to downgrade to the Standard and get a refund, too.
In other Tesla news today, all of its cars will now be equipped with Autopilot as a standard feature. Of course, this means prices for every car will rise, but not as much as Autopilot cost to equip as an option before. Autopilot was a $3,000 option on the Model 3, but Tesla has increased its prices by $2,000 with this announcement. For example, the $37,500 Standard Plus now costs $39,500, but has the software activated from the get-go.
Now, does this mean the Standard Model 3 is no longer a $35,000 car? No. We reached out to Tesla for clarification, and were told that the Standard Model 3 won't have Autopilot, therefore retaining its $35,000 price. This means it will be the only Tesla sold from this point that is not equipped with Autopilot as standard.
Tesla packed this release full of news, and announced a leasing program for any Model 3, too. Annual mileage options include 10,000, 12,000 and 15,000 miles. Don't worry, there's a quirk to this one, too. Instead of being able to purchase the car after the lease is up, Tesla says that "with full autonomy coming in the future via an over-the-air software update, we plan to use those vehicles in the Tesla ride-hailing network." We'll assume the word "future" has a broad definition in this use, and believe it when we see it.
Finally, Tesla has done the same to the Model 3 Long Range rear-wheel drive model as it has done to the $35,000 car, meaning it's dropped from the website, but still available to order via telephone or at a Tesla store.