Here Is Why Tesla Model 3 Is Cheap (For What You Get)

Here Is Why Tesla Model 3 Is Cheap (For What You Get)

When you think of the brand Tesla, you probably picture sleek modern electric cars equipped with the latest technology and features. Most people consider Tesla a luxury car brand, so Tesla and cheap are not two words that we often place together. However, Tesla’s Model 3 is exactly that: cheap. How is that possible?

The Tesla Model 3 is cheap by electric car standards. The Model 3 has a smaller range and lacks several features you will find in Tesla’s other models. Despite this trimming down, Tesla has been unable to keep the Model 3 at the marketed $35,000 with the latest version now costing close to $40,000.

What features does the Tesla Model 3 lose to reach this price? Is the Model 3 cheap compared to other electric cars or just for a Tesla? If you want to understand how the $40,000 Model 3 is coming out of a company known for cars more in the $80,000 to $120,000 range, you are in the right place.

Why Is the Tesla Model 3 Cheap? 

To put things simply, the Tesla Model 3 is cheaper than other Tesla models because it offers less. Tesla chose to consciously strip down some of the features and the performance of their cars when creating Model 3 to produce a more affordable electric car. So what did the Model 3 lose?


The following specifications are based on the cheapest Model 3 version. Please keep in mind that Tesla offers 3 different Model 3 variations.

  • You can hardly expect a $40,000 car to have quite as much going on under the hood as an $80,000 car. Here is what the Model 3 has sacrificed in its performance to get to its price:
  • Range: The Model 3 has a range of around 263 miles which is far less than the 412-mile range of the Model S and the 326-mile range of the Model Y.
  • Acceleration: The cheapest Model 3 has the slowest acceleration of Tesla’s models. It takes around 5.3 seconds to go from 0 to 60 mph while the performance Model 3 can do it in just 3.1 seconds.
  • Drive: The Model 3 does not have an all-wheel drive like the Model S and Y. Instead it has a rear-wheel drive.
  • Cargo: The Model 3 does not have a lot of cargo space. It boasts only 15 cubic feet compared to 28 cubic feet with the Model S and 68 cubic feet with the Model Y.

The Decreasing Cost of Batteries

The lowered performance is not the only reason that the Model 3 can boast such a low price tag. The technology behind electric vehicles has advanced considerably in recent years. The batteries are now smaller and can be produced at a lower price.

This means that not only is Tesla spending less money to produce the batteries that run the Model 3, but they also can make the car smaller since the battery is not quite as big. This money-saving on the production end has allowed Tesla to transfer some of these benefits to customers at a cheaper price.

How Cheap Is the Tesla Model 3?

People are buzzing about Tesla’s cheap Model 3, but how cheap is it?

For some time, the cheapest Tesla you could get your hands on was the Model 3 standard for $35,000. However, the standard Model 3 is no longer available from Tesla. Now the cheapest version is the Model 3 standard plus for around $40,000. So is a $40,000 car really cheap?

The Model 3 Compared to Other Tesla Cars

There is no doubt that the Tesla Model 3 is the cheapest Tesla available. The Model S and the Model X will both cost you around $80,000, and the prices can climb towards $120,000 depending on what version and features you get. The Model 3 comes in at around half of that, which has certainly earned it the title of a cheap Tesla.

Still, the introduction of the Model Y to the market in 2020, has significantly lessened the gap between the Model 3’s price point and other Tesla Models. The Model Y costs around $50,000 which puts only a $10,000 gap between the Model Y and the cheapest version of the Model 3 currently available.

The Model 3 is cheaper than other Tesla models, but, thanks to the loss of the $35,000 version and the introduction of the Model Y, the Model 3 no longer stands out so much on its own.

The Model 3 Compared to Other Electric Vehicles

The Model 3 is the cheapest Tesla around, but how does it compare to other cars? We all know that $40,000 isn’t cheap compared to many gasoline-guzzling cars, but what compared to other fully electric vehicles?

Tesla’s Model 3 does compare fairly well price-wise to other electric vehicles. It is below the industry average, but there are still several other electric vehicles from other brands with a comparable or even cheaper price to the Model 3. These include

  • 2021 Hyundai Kona Electric SEL
  • 2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV LT
  • 2021 Hyundai Ioniq Electric SE
  • 2021 Nissan Leaf S 40 kW
  • 2021 Mini Cooper SE Signature

The Tesla Model 3 is a good price for an electric car, but it is not alone. Other brands offer electric vehicles for a price competitive to the Model 3. The title for the cheapest electric car currently available goes to the Mini Cooper which at around $30,000 is a whole $10,000 less than the Tesla Model 3.

Of course, price isn’t everything. Though the Mini Cooper has the Model 3 beat in the price we would be hard-pressed to say it is a better car. This leads to our next major point of discussion. Why is the Tesla Model 3 cheap? How good of a car is it for the price

Is There a Catch to the Cheap Model 3?

Most of us tend to get a little suspicious when it comes to deals that are advertised as outstanding, so you may be wondering if the Model 3 has a catch. The plain truth is that this is a low-priced quality electric vehicle, but you should also expect to spend more than advertised when you set out to purchase a Model 3.

Once you begin the process of buying your Model 3, you will discover that Tesla offers you quite a few options. Changing the paint color from white will cost you an extra $1000, and changing the black interior to white will be another $1000. You can also add the full self-driving capability for $10,000.

If you feel like upgrading to the Long Range or Performance version of the Model 3 the starting price will jump to around $49,000 and around $57,000 respectively. The upgrades not only come with better range but also with a better sound system, interior floor mats, and all heated seats, all of which can be enticing.

Of course, none of that factors in tax and financing. You will also likely need to purchase and install a home charger. In other words, when all is said and done a Model 3 will cost most people well over $40,000.


Advancing technology and a conscious downgrade have resulted in Tesla’s cheapest car with the Model 3. For a respectable fully electric vehicle the Tesla Model 3 truly is cheap and shows that electric vehicles can be made more affordable for a wider audience.

The Model 3 is still a high-class car but with a price tag more people can get behind.

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The articles here on are created by Greg, a Tesla vehicle and Tesla solar expert with nearly half a decade of hands-on experience. The information on this site is fact-checked and tested in-person to ensure the best possible level of accuracy.

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