Tesla releases less expensive Model 3

Tesla Model 3

This is not the long-awaited $35,000 version, however; the mid-range Model 3 starts at $45,000.

DON'T MISS: Is the Tesla Model 3 the top-selling vehicle from an American brand?

The current Tesla auto line (Roadster, Model S, Model X) ranges in price from $68,000 - $138,800 before tax incentives for electric cars.

Adding the mid-priced version of the Model 3 appears to be a strategic way to lure possible buyers who had been waiting for the lower-priced version.

The midrange model is basically a long-range model with fewer cells in its battery pack, offering slightly slower acceleration and a lower top speed compared to the long-range model: a 0-60 miles per hour sprint takes 5.6 seconds instead of 4.5 seconds, and top speed is 125 miles per hour instead of 145.

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The move could ratchet up the pressure on Tesla's already-straining California factory and its nationwide system built to deliver cars to customers, which Musk described last month as mired in "delivery logistics hell". It estimates the actual price, after estimated savings, at closer to $33,000, including gas savings, for a rear-wheel drive version with an estimated 260-mile range and a 5.6-second race to 60 miles an hour.

The mid-range Model 3s will be rear-wheel drive only, prompting some to wonder if the company was using software to limit battery capacity on existing RWD inventory in order to get it out of the door.

The move could frustrate Tesla fans who put down a $1,000 deposit two years ago for what they believed would be a sleek electric sedan costing about $27,500 after tax incentives.

A Tesla Model 3 sedan, its first auto aimed at the mass market, is displayed during its launch in Hawthorne, California, March 31, 2016. Within days, the company had more than a quarter million reservations. One that's missing-from all new Tesla orders, not just the Model 3-is the controversial "full self-driving" option.

Elon Musk has always hoped to scale production at Tesla and lower their design and technology costs enough to be able to offer a truly mass-market electric vehicle. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk tweeted late Thursday that the feature "was causing too much confusion".

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