Tesla reveals its cheapest Model 3 yet, puts confusing full-self driving option on hiatus

Tesla has reshuffled its Model 3 lineup and is now offering the cheapest version yet, but it’s still $10,000 more than the long-promised $35,000 entry-level car.

The automaker is replacing the long-range battery in the rear-wheel-drive version of the compact sedan that retailed for $49,000 with a mid-range battery that drops the starting price to $45,000 and the range from 310 miles to 260 miles.

(Tesla)

The cost includes a mandatory premium interior and audio package and the only functional option available is Tesla’s Autopilot system, which is $5,000. The long-range rear-wheel-drive car will be available “off menu” for several days.

In addition to these changes, Tesla is temporarily removing the $3,000 Full Self-Driving option from all of its models, which it said prepared them for autonomous driving capability when the software is available to make it work.

Company CEO Elon Musk said the option “was causing too much confusion,” and on Tuesday revealed that a required upgrade to a Tesla-designed computer chip for the system is still about six months away. This will be provided for free to customers who already paid for Full Self-Driving.

Tesla has not said if customers who have already purchased cars with the option will be offered any type of compensation.

And while Tesla said last week that only cars ordered by Oct. 15 would be guaranteed delivery before the end of 2018, when the available federal tax credit for their purchase drops from $7,500 to $3,750, the Model 3 ordering website says that deliveries of the mid-range versions are possible within six to 10 weeks, which would get some in before the deadline.