When Road & Track reviewed the Tesla Model 3 earlier this year, we found it to be a compelling and potentially revolutionary vehicle. It should be: The version we drove carried a $52,500 sticker price. Where's that $35,000 American-built electric car Elon Musk promised us? Still very much not here.
As our colleague , the base-model Tesla is now expected to begin deliveries in "late 2018," according to the automaker. It doesn't seem like a top priority, either: The dual-motor all-wheel drive Model 3, a premium model, will come in mid-2018, months before the cheapest version, Tesla says.
Of the roughly 10,000 Model 3s delivered to date, all have been long-range models, a $9000 upgrade EPA-rated at 310 miles of battery range. Most have featured other upgrades pushing price tags into low-$50,000 territory. And as Car and Driver points out, by the time the $35,000 Model 3 arrives, the window of opportunity for customers to take advantage of the $7500 federal EV credit will be narrowing—the credit decreases, then disappears, after an individual automaker surpasses 200,000 EVs sold, a number Tesla is expected to reach right around when the base Model 3 begins delivery.
Then again, with hundreds of thousands of people having put down $1000 reservations to get in line for the newest Tesla—many of whom, presumably, chose options beyond the bare-bones $35,000 spec—it's not like Tesla has much concern over finding customers. Much more pressing is the automaker's ability to actually deliver on those reservations: As of this writing, that Tesla is building Model 3s at a rate of just more than 800 per week, a far cry from the 2500-per-week goal set by Musk at the outset of Model 3 production.