Tesla has completely torched its original plan for the $35,000 Model 3. Late on Thursday night, the company announced a fundamental change to what is supposed to be the most affordable version of its first mass-market car. Compared to the version that was put on sale on February 28th, the new $35,000 Model 3 will now use a different battery pack, it will no longer have manual seats or cloth trim, and it will only be available to order by phone or at one of Tesla’s stores. But the newly announced changes go beyond functions and cosmetics. The version of the car Tesla announced in 2016 with a $35,000 sticker price was supposed to be affordable because of design and engineering advancements and the economies of scale associated with mass production. The version Tesla’s selling now is different, and it took the company making cuts to other parts of its business to make it happen. And while customers will wind up with an ostensibly better car for the money than the one it’s replacing (assuming they buck the trend that 78 percent of Model 3 sales happen online, or don’t get up-sold when trying to buy it on the phone or in person), it’s a sign of how the well-documented chaos at Tesla can crack some of the company’s most concrete goals. The Model 3 was supposed to be Tesla’s first car for the broader market. From early on, the company’s “master plan” — as set out by CEO Elon… [Read full story]
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