Tesla introduces a $45,000 Model 3 variant with a 260-mile range

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Musk late Thursday announced Tesla's lowest-cost version yet of its newest vehicle, with the CEO writing in a tweet that the mid-range Model 3 "costs $35k after federal & state tax rebates in California", but pegging its ultimate ownership cost at an even lower price point given the money saved not buying gas.

While Tesla is making the Model 3 more accessible to some buyers, the starting price for sedans with the long-range battery is rising to $54,000. That model remains on hold until next year, according to Tesla.

The new Model 3 version, with a 260-mile range, is priced at $45,000 before state and federal incentives, as Electrek first reported. Tesla also confirmed that the $35,000 base model some customers may be waiting for will not be manufactured this year, meaning it won't get the $7,500 credit.

The mid-range Model 3s will be rear-wheel drive only, prompting some to wonder if the company was using software to limit battery capacity on existing RWD inventory in order to get it out of the door. Any new Tesla delivered after January 1st 2019 (but before July 1st 2019) is only eligible for a $3,750 IRS credit.

The Model 3 is a four-door compact sedan that can seat up to "five adults comfortably, and the word comfortably is the key", Musk said.

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Tesla says the "standard battery" version will not be available for another 4 to 6 months.

With the arrival of the Model 3 Mid Range model, Tesla will no longer sell the rear-wheel drive Long Range version.

To date, the company had only been offering more expensive versions of the vehicle. Tesla did just take a step closer to achieving that, though.

Musk said on Twitter in May that if the company shipped the $35,000 version right away, Tesla would "lose money [and] die".

When Musk announced a performance version of the Model 3 in May that cost around $80,000, he said the company needed to reach higher levels of production and reduce costs. While he has yet to deliver on that sticker price two and a half years later, demand has been strong, with sales rivaling some of the top-selling passenger cars in the United States last quarter.

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