Tesla adds Model 3 leasing to its product options

Rex Crum
Mercury News

Are you in the market for a Tesla Model 3 but, for whatever reason, can’t go through with buying one of the electric cars?

Well, Tesla is offering up a new option to get you behind the wheel of one of its top-selling vehicles. Tesla said it has begun offering leasing options for the Model 3 for what the company described as “a small down payment and competitive monthly payments.” All Model 3 versions are eligible for leasing, with options of 10,000, 12,000 or 15,000 miles a year.

However, unlike many traditional automakers, which will offer the option to buy a vehicle at the completion of a lease term, Tesla said all leased Model 3s will have to be returned to the company at the end of the leasing period. Company officials say they aim to use those cars in its planned ride-hailing vehicle network.

Tesla also said it is adding its Autopilot driver-assistant technology as a standard feature to all of its vehicles. The move will raise the base price of Tesla’s cars, but those vehicles will cost slightly less than when Autopilot was an add-on feature. Tesla cited an example of how the Model 3 Standard Plus car will now cost $39,500 with Autopilot built in; it previously cost $37,500, with Autopilot available for an extra $3,000.

The company also is removing its Model 3 Standard car from its online ordering system after recently introducing the $35,000 vehicle. Tesla said it was taking this step because its Model 3 Standard Plus, with a longer battery range, has surpassed the company’s expectation by selling “more than six times the rate of Standard.”

Tesla said the Model 3 Standard can still be ordered either over the phone or at one of its stores.