Tesla's $35,000 Model 3 just got even harder to buy

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The $35,000 Standard Range Model 3 (Model 3 SR) was a major milestone for Tesla when they made the surprise announcement on February 28, bringing a spot of good news after months of mixed press about the health of the company.

Tesla is apparently moving to retire the $35,000 entry-level Model 3 before shipping the first units, though Autopilot comes standard and customers can now lease the auto. Notably, leasers won't have the option to purchase their auto at the end of the lease as Tesla aims to repurpose them for its future ride-hailing network.

It's also worth noting that Tesla has scrapped building a separate version of the base trim Model 3. Several features will be disabled including the vehicle company's onboard music streaming service, navigation with live traffic visualization, and heated seats. It means the $35,000 Standard Model 3 will now be sold as a software-limited version of the Standard Plus.

According to Tesla, the cheapest Model 3 now available online for sale is Model 3 Standard Plus.

The Tesla Model 3 actually starts at $53,700 in Canada and $39,500 in the United States for the Standard Range Plus. Customers in the U.S. can choose from 10,000, 12,000 and 15,000 mile annual usage options, depending on your driving needs and budget.

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk explained the reason for the Model 3's mysterious cockpit camera. Previously, the base price of the Model 3 was $37,500 and Auto-pilot took another $3,000.

In addition to that news, Autopilot was announced as standard across the Tesla lineup. The auto has been flaunted as an affordable electric vehicle with a sub-$40k starting price for years, but a few months after bringing its base Standard Range model to market, the vehicle is now gone from Tesla's website. Buyers do have the option to unlock those features at a later date, though, essentially upgrading the vehicle from Standard Range to Standard Range Plus. Tesla said the option to lease a Model 3 is now open to US customers with a small down payment and competitive monthly payments.

Lessees interested in a dual-motor Long Range Model 3 can easily find themselves with a $700 per month lease payment.

Tesla shares rose 0.6% to $269.98 as of 08:50 Friday in NY, before the start of regular trading. However, there's a catch - buyers will not get a chance to own their respective Model 3 at the end of their lease.

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