How much will a Tesla Model 3 really cost? We’ve heard $35k, before and after incentives. Now we’ve heard $25k, after incentives. Set aside when it’s coming out, because we all know Tesla is not in the business of meeting self-imposed deadlines, and let’s consider the harsh realities of the Model 3’s positioning in what will be a very crowded segment.
Sam Abuelsamid, one of my favorite writers and one of the few who was actually an auto engineer, has just written a very interesting piece for Forbes about the Model 3’s pricing. He posits that at $25k the Model 3 cannot possible include the full suite of options upon which Tesla built its reputation in the Model S.
Want Autopilot? You’re going to pay up, and it won’t be cheap. Throw in rumors that Model 3 owners will have to pay to use Superchargers, and you remove a psychological component of the Tesla Ecosystem. How will Model 3 owners pay? Will there be a GPS-enabled payment method built into the infotainment screen, activated upon arrival at a Supercharger? What about customer service and support? Does Tesla have the infrastructure to support a doubling of their cars on the road? A tripling?
Abuelsamid thinks Tesla will offer a stripper model with a smaller battery at $25k, and a premium model, with a hint that the base model will hit the market first.
If so, I think Musk is making a mistake. Tesla haters can point to a raft of problems with the company, but its premium branding isn’t one of them. The Model S is a unique and compelling technological statement even in its base configuration.
Whatever the Model 3’s pricing, Tesla would be better off revealing a loaded model first, maintaining its perception and positioning to customers and non-customers alike.
The bottom line? Which Model 3 variant hits first is more important than its price.
The future of Tesla could depend on it.