Tesla now sells Model 3 with 260-mile range, $45,000 sticker

Tesla Model 3

Adding the mid-priced version of the Model 3 appears to be a strategic way to lure possible buyers who had been waiting for the lower-priced version. With the federal tax credit that price drops down to $37,500.

We like the Tesla Model 3, and while we've enjoyed it in its rear-wheel-drive Long Range trim and its dual-motor Performance trim, what we've really been wanting to see is a Model 3 that gets closer in price to that fabled $35,000 mark that Elon Musk promised the world way back in 2016. Consequently, its range is down from 310 mile (498 km) to 260 miles (418 km).

The midrange version has the same battery pack as the long-range model but uses fewer cells. The vehicle's top speed has also been reduced from 145 mph (233 km/h) to 125 mph (201 km/h), while 0-60 mph (96 km/h) acceleration takes 5.6 seconds, 1.1 seconds more than the Long-Range.

The move could ratchet up the pressure on Tesla's already-straining California factory and its nationwide system built to deliver cars to customers, which Musk described last month as mired in "delivery logistics hell".

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The new version has a delivery period of six to 10 weeks, according to the website, which would customers eligible for the current $7,500 US tax credit if they take delivery by the end of the year. That's a timeline that could just eke a number of cars through for delivery-especially perhaps in California and on the West Coast-in time for the full $7,500 tax credit. Within days, the company had more than a quarter million reservations.

The delivery estimate for the mid-range version is 6 to 10 weeks in Canada. Musk has said the company, a cash-burning giant that faces billions of dollars in impending debts, must push out more profitable and expensive versions first: Shipping the cheapest "Model 3 right away (would) cause Tesla to lose money & die", he tweeted in May.

Despite its drawbacks, a Model 3 with a lower price tag could spell great news for Tesla as its first affordable vehicle has been viewed as an integral step in the firm's transition to become a leader in the broader auto market, as well as necessary to ward off heightened competitive pressures from both traditional car makers and niche EV startups.

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