Revenue Stream: Tesla’s Everyman Car Gets a $78k Makeover


tesla model 3

If you had nothing better to do with your Saturday night than sit in front of the computer, you’re already well aware that the Tesla Model 3 — revealed in 2016 with a base price of $35,000 — will gain a $78,000 dual-motor performance variant, a speedier companion to the existing $44,000 Long Range model.

Currently, the LR is the only version rolling off Tesla’s Fremont, California assembly line.

So, what does this additional coinage get you?

For Tesla, it allows the cash-burning company to tap into a new revenue source — presumably to make the world-changing dream of an “affordable” EV for the masses come true. Maybe early reservation holders have come into money in the two years since dropping a grand on a base Model 3 and would like to add a dual-motor setup to their ride. That’s a $5,000 option now.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk claims the performance version rings in at $78,000, a figure we assume is the net price after a $7,500 federal tax credit (the supply of which is quickly running out). With two motors powering all four wheels, range increases slightly to 310 miles. Musk says the model, which scoots to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds, can continue a journey if one of the motors breaks down. Good to know.

The model’s top speed is 155 mph, for what it’s worth, which is 15 mph higher than the stock dual-motor model (that model retails for $54,000). A carbon fiber spoiler adorns the trunklid on the go-fast version, and 20-inch wheels replace the stock Model 3’s 18- and 19-inch wheels.

During his Saturday night tweetstorm, the CEO used the acceleration figure to boast the performance variant will “beat anything in its class on the track” — a claim excoriated by Twitter pundits for the remainder of the weekend. The question “How well will a Model 3 handle a sustained track battle?” remains to be answered sufficiently. Also, the BMW M3 Musk mentioned as a segment rival stickers for 10 grand less. Anyway, as one pundit pointed out, Tesla superfans aren’t in the habit of properly vetting the competition. To this crowd, the 3.5 second figure is all anyone needs to know.

Adding Autopilot and full self-driving capability (a feature drivers can’t yet use) pushes the performance model’s sticker to $86,000, which doesn’t exactly fall in the affordable category. Of course, high-zoot variants of lesser vehicles aren’t anything new. It’s just too bad the $35k model isn’t in production yet, as this version doesn’t do anything to dispel the vision of Teslas as pricey green playthings for the well-to-do. Tesla estimates a 6- to 12-month delivery wait for standard-range models on its website right now.

However, should you want a dual-motor model in either spec, the wait shrinks to 6- to 9 months. It’s dependent on whether the company reaches its second-quarter production goals. Should the automaker reach a production rate of 5,000 Model 3s per week by the end of June, Musk says these versions will see the assembly line in July.

Place your bets.

[Image: Tesla]