Tesla tries again with lower-priced Model 3 sedan

The world still awaits the $35,000 sedan promised by Tesla founder Elon Musk back in March 2016. But in the meantime, the electric-car maker is taking orders for a mid-range battery Model 3 that’s edging closer to that sticker price. 

Musk late Thursday announced Tesla’s lowest-cost version yet of its newest car, with the CEO writing in a tweet that the mid-range Model 3 “costs $35k after federal & state tax rebates in California,” but pegging its ultimate ownership cost at an even lower price point given the money saved not buying gas. 

That incentive touted by Musk, however, is getting scaled back in short order.

Tesla customers won’t get the full $7,500 federal tax credit starting in 2019 as the company hit a sales threshold that cuts the incentive by 50 percent in the first half of the new year, and then again six months later.

The Model 3 sedan now being offered by Tesla can travel about 260 miles between charges and costs $45,000, some $4,000 below the starting price of the sedan that the company began selling last year, excluding options and incentives.

Musk made a big splash more than two years ago when he first unveiled the Model 3, vowing its price would began at $35,000 before incentives. Tesla compiled a quarter million reservations within days, but has not been able to deliver on that sticker price. That model remains on hold until next year, according to Tesla.

Sidetracked by recent controversies that included Musk giving up his chairmanship at Tesla to resolve an SEC probe of his misleading tweets to investors, the announcement has Musk attempting to get back on track in his stated effort to revolutionize the car industry with electric cars for the masses.

The only available Model 3 for the past year has been a long-range version, offered mostly at lofty prices of around $80,000.

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