The $35,000 entry-level Model 3 Tesla revealed over two years ago still isn't in production. However, company boss Elon Musk has just announced two faster versions, with one costing from $78,000.
Musk tweeted over the weekend to say dual-motor, all-wheel-drive versions of the Model 3 are coming soon. These will be sold alongside a pair of single-motor, rear-wheel-drive versions of the Model 3, of which only the long-range car with a larger battery pack is currently in production.
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That car will be joined later in 2018 by the entry-level car with its smaller battery — the famed $35,000 electric car Musk promised when the Model 3 first launched over two years ago.
After this, the pair of newly announced dual-motor Model 3s will go into production. Musk said the regular dual-motor car will have the same 310-mile range and 140 mph top speed as the single-motor car, but with a 0-60 mph time of 4.5 seconds (down from 5.1). Opting for the second motor will cost an additional $5,000.
Musk said a 'performance' version of the dual-motor Model 3 will also offer 310 miles of range, but with a higher top speed of 155 mph and a lower 0-60 mph time of 3.5 seconds. This will make it one of the quickest cars on sale in a straight line, but Musk also made the bold claim of it being able to "beat anything in its class on the track."
In particular, Musk said the performance version of the Model 3 will be 15 percent quicker than a BMW M3, "and with better handling." Considering the M3's bloodline stretches back to 1985, and BMW's M Division is one of the most highly-regarded performance sub-brands in the automotive industry, this is a significant claim.
As well as extra speed, the performance Model 3 gets a carbon fiber rear spoiler, 20-inch 'performance' wheels, and a black and white interior which will initially be unique to the car.
The Model 3 Performance will be made available imminently to "early reservation holders" — in other words, those who were among the first to order a Model 3 two years ago, but are yet to receive their car.
But all that performance won't come cheap. The performance version, which has all optional extras apart from Autopilot, costs $78,000, or more than double the entry-price of the single-motor Model 3 with regular-sized battery pack — a car which hasn't yet gone into production. Tesla says it will begin making that car in late-2018.
Musk shed some light on why the entry-level Model 3 still isn't on sale. "Shipping minimum cost Model 3 right away would cause Tesla to lose money and die," he said, explaining that the company needs to produce the more expensive model at a rate of 5,000 units per week for three to six months before the base $35,000 version can go into production.
Meanwhile, there is some brighter news for reservation holders who may be running out of patience. According to Electrek, delivery estimates for long-range, single-motor Model 3 orders placed now have been slashed from 12 to 18 months to four to six months.
According to the same report, if you order an entry-level Model 3 in the US today, you will receive a delivery estimate of six to 12 months, down from 12 to 18 months.