Tesla Model 3: Buy Mid Range Now Or Wait For Base Model?


This may be the most pertinent questions for Tesla Model 3 shoppers right now.

It’s as if Sean Mitchell scours the internet and, more specifically, EV-related sites and forums to figure out exactly what questions are in need of being answered. Then, he does the in-depth research for us and presents his findings in a way that anyone can understand. Let’s look at Sean’s breakdown of range, pricing, rebates, and availability related to these Tesla Model 3 variants.

This video should work to help you finally make your decision and move forward before it’s too late. Or, wait it out and hope for the best. It’s a tough call for sure. Since we have no way of knowing for sure when the “Standard Range,” $35,000 base Tesla Model 3 will become available, there’s nothing easy about this decision.

Tesla has inventory cars available right now for virtually instant delivery. You can also order a Mid Range model now and have the opportunity to partake in at least some of the U.S. federal EV tax credit. The credit halves after the new year, so time is of the essence.

While there’s a slim chance you’ll be able to get a base Model 3 during that $3,750 rebate window, reality says you’ll probably get the $1,875. If you talk to some people, they’ll tell you that based on Tesla’s timeline track record, those ordering the base Model 3 may not get a rebate at all.

Check out Sean’s take on the situation and then let us know your decision in the comment section below.

Video Description via Sean Mitchell (AllThingsEV.info) on YouTube:

Model 3: Buy Mid Range now or wait for Standard Range?

Model 3 Standard Range:
Range – 220 mi (324 km)
Drive – RWD
Price – $35,000
Price w -$7,500 (2018) – N/A
Price w -$3,750 (Jan-Jun 2019) – $31,250
Price w -$1,875 (Jul-Dec 2019) – $33,275

Model 3 Mid Range:
Range – 260 mi (418 km)
Drive – RWD
Price – $46,000
Price w -$7,500 (2018) – $38,500
Price w -$3,750 (Jan-Jun 2019) – $42,250
Price w -$1,875 (Jul-Dec 2019) – $44,275


31 photos
2. Tesla Model 3 Range: 310 miles; 136/123 mpg-e. Still maintaining a long waiting list as production ramps up slowly, the new compact Tesla Model 3 sedan is a smaller and cheaper, but no less stylish, alternative, to the fledgling automaker’s popular Model S. This estimate is for a Model 3 with the “optional” (at $9,000) long-range battery, which is as of this writing still the only configuration available. The standard battery, which is expected to become available later in 2018, is estimated to run for 220 miles on a charge. Tesla Model 3 charge port (U.S.) The Tesla Model 3 is not hiding anymore! Tesla Model 3 (Image Credit: Tom Moloughney/InsideEVs) Tesla Model 3 Inside the Tesla Model 3 Tesla Model 3 Performance - Dual Motor Badge Tesla Model 3 Performance Tesla Model 3 Performance Tesla Model 3 Performance Tesla Model 3 Performance - Midnight Silver Tarmac Motion (wallpaper 2,560x – click to enlarge) Tesla Model 3 Performance - White Interior - Wide Tesla Model 3 Performance - White Interior - Touchscreen Tesla Model 3 rear seats Tesla Model 3 Road Trip arrives in Tallahassee Tesla Model 3 charges in Tallahassee, trunk open.

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82 Comments on "Tesla Model 3: Buy Mid Range Now Or Wait For Base Model?"

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I did this math the other night.

My monthly payment would have been around $430 for either the MR 3 w/ EAP, or waiting a year and buying the SR 3 w/ PIP, EAP. Both in the same color and config. In each case I would pay 20k down net of tax credit ($27500 down now or $21875 next year), and finance with Tesla at around 4%.

As much as I really really want a Model 3 right now I don’t want a new car payment, so I wait a year for a car with 40 miles less of range for the same price.

The longer you wait, the more money you save. Buying a Tesla is like throwing money away for fun.

Buying non-Teslas are a super good investment, though.

The Hyundai Kona is the first vehicle in history that increases $10,000 the moment you drive it off the lot.

Might want to stop smoking the wacky

go ahead. Buy that Mercedes, BMW, Audi, etc. You should blow ALL your money on the top-end class S, etc. Be a man and do that. Then park it in your she-shed.

I didn’t and would not put that much money down. I am long on TSLA, and hopefully you are too. I would instead take your tax credit and that money and buy TSLA, because in 5-6 years by the time your car is paid off, that $27,500 would certainly be worth more, likely closer to $100-150k. Just my $0.02.

Free cars make the most financial sense.

We are close to the peak market. Look at some historic equity index graph and check how well it has ended for people who bought at such stage. Even assuming they were not forced to sell at low point because they needed cash for something else during downturn.

Especially risky and volatile “growth” stocks.

If you can afford the Model 3 now, you should buy it now and get the full tax credit.
I’m not rich enough to throw away $3500 extra dollars.

The LR will have higher resale value, longer battery life, and more range.
It’s insane to wait, except if you can’t afford it.

MR with $7,500 rebate should realistically have an N/A beside it too.

Does anyone have a guess what an AWD option on the SR might cost, assuming they offer it? $4k?

MR with $7500 rebate is probably still doable. Seems like Tesla is managing to deliver these to a lot of people within a week of them placing their order.

Plus Tesla has guaranteed you can get a full refund if Tesla doesn’t get it to you before the end of the year. I’m sure if you order by ~Friday and Tesla doesn’t deliver this year, they’ll offer something to make up for the credits to avoid having you take the refund. Probably something like three years of free supercharging – that’s an offer they’re already making to existing owners, trying to get them to buy a new car before the end of the year.

Why N/A for MR with 7500? They have thousands available for immediate delivery.

Except here in TX, of course, where they can’t bring a car in state until after you but it.

“MR with $7,500 rebate should realistically have an N/A beside it too.”

Why? Even the LR RWD isn’t actually “N/A”, yet.

I just ordered one on Saturday and they’re delivering it to me on Thursday. No reservation or anything. Just walked into the store, test drove one, and ordered it later that night.

Inventory LR RWDs are running out, but they’ve got plenty of MRs, at least in the Southeast that could still be delivered in 2018.

Do Not Read Between The Lines

Here are my considerations:
1) In my opinion, if Tesla can’t profitable sell the Model 3 SR it will fail as a company. So, I’m not going to buy until they’ve released the SR.
2) I use snow tires: regen is currently limited if you have snow tires. Something is messed up with the traction control’s reaction.
3) Reports of the rear window heater not working below a certain temperature. Annoying when you need to clear some moisture. Some of us just get in our cars and go, and let the cabin heat up as we drive.
4) Reports of the door handles sticking when freezing
5) Frameless windows sticking to seals when it’s freezing. Tesla has a workaround for it, but it’s not ideal
6) Reports of the charge port sticking when freezing. Software workaround is that they don’t lock it when it’s cold.

When Tesla has released the SR, and it handles freezing conditions the way my other cars can handle it, I’ll be willing to buy.

I’m tempted to cancel my reservation to save them time calling me.

They’ve got your number, so they’ll call whether you cancel or not 🙂

Pascal Abessolo Nguema
“1) In my opinion, if Tesla can’t profitable sell the Model 3 SR it will fail as a company. So, I’m not going to buy until they’ve released the SR.” Chicken and Egg. If we dont by they wont be profitable. Go figure. “2) I use snow tires: regen is currently limited if you have snow tires. Something is messed up with the traction control’s reaction.” False. I have snow tires, and teh regen is working. They Regen is deactivatied when the BATTERY is cold. A cabine preheating and a few minutes driving will heat up the batterry and the regen comes back little by little. Tesla are better in that regard than the competion. Let see what the Dutch will bring. “3) Reports of the rear window heater not working below a certain temperature. Annoying when you need to clear some moisture. Some of us just get in our cars and go, and let the cabin heat up as we drive.” Leaving inMontréal, Québec, Canada. I have no sissue with rear window fogging. Beside, I start the cabine preheating 20 minutes before getting into the car, so I have a warm interior and defogged windows when driving. “4) Reports… Read more »

First, it’s likely that Tesla will drop the mid-range battery version once the standard battery becomes available (keeping production as simple as possible). Second, the mid-range model is RWD only. Wait for the standard battery version, and you can get the Dual Motor AWD option. AWD gives 1) better handling, 2) balanced, more effective four-wheel magnetic/regenerative braking, 3) the potential for better efficiency, as well as 4) better traction in rain/snow. Third, the mid-range model comes with the premium upgrade package, which likely will be changed once the standard battery version comes out. I expect the glass roof will become standard on all Model 3s (less cost to manufacture than metal, and simplified production). I expect interior options will also match Model S, including a cream interior option. With Tesla, configurations are not predictable, and never stay the same.

I agree MR is not long for this world. I disagree about AWD and efficiency. RWD with PM motor is the most efficient Model 3.

You are 100% correct that Tesla configurations are not predictable, still I fearlessly predict SR will not be $35k for a year or so. I expect the $5k premium package to be mandatory in 2019, or possibly a semi-premium package with “the options most customers want” for $38-39k.

Either way, MR now is a better deal with 40 miles of extra range for roughly the same price (unless you’re early enough on the reservation list to take delivery before 6/30).

I would buy the Mid-Range if it came without Premium Package, or the Standard Range with it. I just need the price to get down a *little* more to justify pulling the trigger. I’d probably be happier (and Tesla would pocket more) with the Standard Range Premium Trim – the wife wants the glass roof, but I want the Studio Sound System : )

Pascal Abessolo Nguema

” the wife wants the glass roof, but I want the Studio Sound System : )” Both are coming in the PUP.. 😛

Happy Wife, Happy life

PUP = Plug in Prius?
You’re not going to be happy with that car.
Check out the 300% better BMW i3 REX, and lease it for less money.
Then you’re both happy.

Premium Upgrades Package

i3 vs. Tesla 3? No brainer, the Tesla 3 wins every time.

It makes no sense to drop the mid range as that’s more profit to Tesla.
Who said the low range model would have AWD? Got a link?

Since when is a glass roof simpler to manufacture than a metal roof? I could see them keeping the glass roof for all cars, but a metal roof will always be cheaper. Just stamp it, press it, paint it and glue some fabric to it. And the production process would actually be the same, just put in the metal roof instead of the glass one.

A few things being left off in this comparison – there’s no certainty that the $35K Model 3 will debut in time for the $3750 credit. Standard battery will almost certainly be available, dropping the starting price to $40K (because Premium Upgrade Package).

Also, MA rebate drops from $2500 to $1500 for the Model 3 starting on January 1st.

So really, the price in MA after incentives is currently $36K for the mid-range (if you receive it before the end of December), and it’ll be $34750 for the standard range with Premium Upgrade Package if you receive it between January 1st and June 30th.

Only a $1250 difference for 16% extra range, quicker supercharging, quicker acceleration, and sooner delivery.

If I just provided you with the info to pull the trigger (or if my comments have ever helped you before), you could use my code and also get those 6 free months of supercharging – it’s taylor54795 .

SR for $35K is a myth to sucker you in to wait, just like Musk saying Tesla 3 will be towing capable (suckered me to wait). If getting a Tesla 3, get it before June delivery date to get the best deal with tax credit. Or wait 3 years after current crop of free charging has expired (hopefully not renewed) and Tesla’s worked out the kinks.

Do you think a used Spark EV is still a good buy? I see so many lease-return ones it’s not even funny.
Of course, living in an area with a high concentration of EV charging stations helps aleviate the low range of the Spark EV.

Any used EV whose range can handle your regular driving is a good buy and a savvy financial choice. While I am constantly tempted to buy the Model 3, and could afford it, in boring, pragmatic terms our dorky looking 2013 Leaf does everything we need, and cost a fifth of the price of the Model 3.

There will likely come a point when we get a longer range EV, but for now the money we don’t spend on it can be used more productively.

Neither. Buy a Model 3 LR RWD out of inventory and get the full credit, as well as quicker acceleration and ~70 miles more range than the MR.

Are there still Model 3 LR RWD models floating around? Honestly, to me it is the best buy. Longest range Tesla made, quickest charging, most efficient, not slower than AWD. Better value than MR in my opinion as it isn’t much more expensive for much more range. I was a bit annoyed they discontinued it.

There were LR RWDs available on Saturday, at least, when I ordered one from inventory. Delivery is scheduled for Thursday. FWIW, I’m in FL, not CA.

And yeah, I agree. The LR RWD was a no-brainer for us. Huge range, faster charging, quicker, and the only way to get the range in the near future is by paying for AWD. I think they’ll hold their value better than the MR for those that get the full credit, making even closer to cost parity.

It is a no brainer if you can afford it.

True. It was more than I would normally spend on a car (also considered a $5k Leaf haha), but I think the LR will be similar overall cost in the long run compared to the MR due to lower depreciation, plus it has several meaningful advantages (charging, acceleration, range, etc.)

By the time $35k m3 is available, used mid range m3’s will be available for the same price.

Exactly. Buy a used Model 3 with more equipment and range, than the base model.

The trade off is the lost warranty on the used.

If buying new, It is simple:
1) If you can afford the mid-range, buy it now
2) if you can not afford the mid-range, do not buy it.

I’m stuck in a lease for another 9 months so that’s kind of forcing my hand.

Volt lease ends in Jan. I need a car!

Those of us, that are currently stuck with only single digit months left in our 24-36 mo. Leases, can try and use Lease Trader.Com, to trade out, and take advantage of this one time Tesla Year End Sale w/ The Full Fed Credit ($7.5k) Deal.

Or, just roll the dice, and “wait”, as pjwood1 is betting on in the comment below.

Still have 3 months left on my i3 lease, but I’ll just have 3 cars instead of the normal 2 for 3 months, I guess.

Sure, now I’m paying ~$1000 of lease payments for no reason, but I’d lose out on the LR RWD and $3,750 of tax credit by waiting.

I think I’m too close to the end to do swap-a-lease, at this point.

Wait, because Tesla will match the loss of the tax-credit more than $1:$1, by lowering Model 3’s price.

My bet, and I’m sticking with it, my Model S and its vintage software.

Why are you refusing software updates?

Right now the base 3, according to Musk, would be 38k to build, so they need a looooooot of cost savings to bring that down to $27,500 in a single year.

Well, compared to the mid-range, the base Model 3 should have a smaller battery, 14kWh less than mid-range. Assuming Tesla’s cost is $110/kWh for battery, that reduces the price by $1,540, bringing cost to build down to $36,460.
Right now all Model 3 have Autopilot hardware(but it’s just not enabled unless you spend money when configuring or add it later), I am sure removing said Autopilot hardware would take bite out of the cost of building. While we are at it, mid-range Model 3 is dual-motor by default, since standard-range is *not* a performance car, that extra motor can be left out, saving lots of money as well.

I am sure Tesla could get base Model 3 delivered by January 2019. But I think they want to make sure as many people buy the mid-range and long-range as possible since they have higher profit margins.

38k is not the MR cost, it’s the cost estimate with the smaller battery, steel roof, manual seats, etc. It probably still includes AP hardware, though. That’s a few hundred bucks, but marginal cost with the new chip will be much cheaper. I don’t see them removing that.

Well, if you believe Elon’s mail to the employees, he clearly said the base Model 3 would currently cost them about 38k to build. He also said they have 10k parts, so they need to save pennies on each of them, to make it work in the end.

And I think that’s possible, but battery size, motors and the cost of the PUP added features are already left out, so the cost savings really need to come from saving on each individual part, not leaving parts out.

That’s why I think they won’t reduce the base price any time soon. Saving 8% on every part and that’s almost what’s needed to give the base Model 3 a slightly positive gross margin, is already a tall order.

So I’d say assuming that they will match the price before incentives just won’t happen. Maybe they will reduce the price of the LR and MR a bit, but if you want to be sure to get the cars for the price they have now (after incentives), then don’t wait. There might be some wiggle room on top, but not for the base models.

And for Europe? What car will be available? MR, SR one day? LR RWD ? Premium always mandatory? How many colors available in 1 year? We are fed up of the unstable, erratic marketing of Tesla!

Quote from Tesla-nazi, “No Tesla 3 for You(rope)! Come back 1 year! Next!”


Another Euro point of view

Now obviously this article would be pointless if we would not have a good idea of when this SR USD 35k model will be released. So when will this USD 35k be released ? What ? Can’t hear you. Could please say it louder ? What ? If you can’t say it you could maybe write it down ? OK ? Can’t read arabic ? Is there a translator around ? No ? 🙂 🙂

IMO Pretty simple: buy MR PUP today for $38,500; wait till 2nd half of 2019 and buy SR PUP for $38,125; or wait till 2020 and buy SR/base for $35,000. Of course colors and delivery might change in price over the next year. Interest rates will probably increase — depending upon what happens with the economy. If there is really a recession auto manufacturers will be hit very hard. Deals will be forthcoming.

It costs $38,000 to build a Model 3. That’s not me pulling numbers out of thin air. It is by Saint Elon himself. https://jalopnik.com/teslas-35-000-model-3-would-cost-38-000-to-make-right-1830776447

So that cost has to be brought down to around $30K before the $35K model 3 can become a reality. I’m not saying it is impossible. But in terms of today’s buying decisions, it is very simple. If you can afford a Model 3 now and you want one, buy it. Don’t put it off based on something that may or may not ever appear.

Do Not Read Between The Lines

He didn’t write that it costs $38k to build, he wrote that depending on how you count it, the SR would cost $38k.

The conversion to km is wrong. 220 miles is 354 km. Not 324.

Model 3 Standard Range:
Range – 220 mi (324 km)

So for $11,000 you just get 40 miles more range? That would mean $44,000 would get you 160 miles of range. So either the mid-range is either a very poor bargain since it is so much more expensive than a 3 SR, or , the 3 SR will simply never be released , other than for a few days and then discontinued due to “Lack of Demand”.

The $35k does not have the premium package, either. We don’t know what that is worth, since we don’t know what the non-premium car will be like.

I want the glass roof on $35K 3… I’m sure that will be apart of the premium package. Hopefully its not a lot

Wow – that is pretty disingenuous to say that when you know full well that $11k includes the PUP.
So it is $6k for 40 miles of range and some acceleration difference (too lazy to figure out).
And I think we all know that the midrange is a temporary car to maximize the full tax credit.

SR 3 will come out soon enough when the competition rolling out their vehicles with similar specs of SR 3.

So, we’ll be waiting another 5-10 years, then? I hope not!

The right move was to buy the LR RWD when it was available for $49k ($41,500 post-credit). Instead people will wait, likely until the whole credit expires, and pay $35k for a stripped car with 1/3 less range. And only a token number of SR RWD cars will ever ship at $35k to some early reservation holders. My guess is that $38-40k will be the actual price shortly after introduction.

If you wanted a Model 3 and could afford it without having to calculate monthly payment differences (always a sign of an over-stretched budget) then 3 months ago was the time to buy.

I could see that happening. Making part of the PUP standard and making all cars AWD and selling it for 40k. It will still be good value, but compared to an early LR RWD, it just won’t be.

It may not be too late.

I ordered an inventory LR RWD on Saturday and they’re delivering it tomorrow.

Nice! You’ll love it. All-around best version of the M3 made so far.

The $7,500 Fed tax credit is totally dependent on your income. It is NOT -$7,500 off the Model 3’s price.

It depends on what you make. When you file your taxes you’ll get a certain amount back. Most people do not qualify to get $7,500 back in taxes so if you don’t already your chances of getting that are slim with the purchase of a Model 3.

That should not be included in the cost of the Model 3 as it has no relation to it.

It will certainly not change your monthly payment.

With that being said base Model 3 is the best value. Just a matter of when it will arrive. It is the one I am and have been waiting for. I’ll become rich in the near future but for now, the base 3 is what I can swing. Bring it on

If you don’t have enough income to have $7500 in federal tax liability, you shouldn’t be buying a new car. That includes retired people, who should have that much tax liability from passive income generated by their investment portfolios.

Not necessarily – if all of your investments are in an IRA or in tax exempt dividends or mutual funds, you could be doing quite well and not have that much to pay in taxes.

Do Not Read Between The Lines

If you have a successful Roth, you could have a lot of tax-free income.

If the only money you invested for retirement is in 401k/IRAs, you’re probably going to be in trouble unless you live frugally (cheap cars). Even maxed-out you just can’t get enough money into those accounts to retire with an amount that allows you to blow mo yeah on $50k cars.

A self employed IRA allows $55k a year to be put away. If someone did that from age 30-65, I think they are ok to blow on a new car. Obviously the limit has not been exactly $55k for 35 years.

The standard IRA is $5.5k right? Invested over 35 years would make most people very comfortable and able to afford a $50k car.

The max 401k is $19k. To somehow lump $5.5k in with $19k would seem to me that you need to brush up on retirement 101. Certainly $5.5k is very different from $55k.

So with all that, I suspect most people would have a mixture. I myself have Roth, SEP-IRA, 401k and 403b. And money in RE.

Some people live in a low cost of living area. The limits are the same so they have a lot more disposable income. That same person might not like travel and not liking eating out. They could get a P100DL without an issue. My inlaws are like that. Own house outright and taxes are probably $3k a year.

If you’re allowed to put $55k into retirement accounts a year, more power to you. Most people can only do the 401k max, maybe an IRA if their income isn’t very high, and HSA. That’s less than $30k per year. Not nearly enough to retire on and blow money on expensive new cars, unless they’re cutting to the bone everywhere else.

Even if you are retired and only have money in tax deferred retirement accounts, you can create $7500 in tax liability to offset with the credit by taking distributions from those accounts.

We are waiting for the long range, rear wheel drive, premium Model 3 to arrive in Europe. I don’t need AWD (nor want to pay for it) but I’d want all the range I can get. I’d take AWD for free on top of the LR version but I won’t pay anything extra for it.

Tesla doesn’t produce that version anymore, so you may have a long wait…

Do Not Read Between The Lines

Plenty available off menu. Sneaky fellow, Elon Musk.

If you do not need a item today and are certain that you can obtain it at a later point it is always financially favourable to delay the purchase.

Luckily for the automotive industry as a whole cars aren’t replaced for rational reasons.

Isn’t the last tier of fed tax credit $1875? Maybe I’m splitting hairs so sorry, ha. Also, u left out the fact that today’s Model 3 has a 5k tech package. I’ll be buying the cheapest Tesla but STILL with the 5k tech package. I would also be VERY surprised if T didn’t eventually drop their paint prices. Still will be cheaper. Also the fact that lease option should exist next year, allowing fans to Lease now until the Truck or Y arrives. Still, I appreciate that your great video keeps it simple. Thank you.

Correct on the math. Fixed. Thank you.

The math in the article looks wrong to me.

It’s not $46k for the mid range vs $35k for the short range, because the mid range also includes the premium package.

So to compare like to like, you should be comparing $46k mid range to $39k short range.

Then after the tax credit drop from $7.5k (now) to $1.75k by the time the short range ships and the real price difference is about $1000 ($7k price difference minus $6k less tax credit) for buying the mid range now over the short range in 6 months+.

But if you don’t want the premium package then you can actually save money – around $5000, but you’re getting a lower trim line car.

We still don’t know what is going to be “standard” on the SR model other than battery. A $35k does certainly isn’t going to include the mandatory premium options that are included in the $46K MR model. That will still be $40K (at least).

Can I still reserve model 3 SR or is it too late ? I don’t see a link on their website?

220 miles is 352 km, not 324 km as stated un the article.