Tesla has officially launched its Model 3 leasing program to include any variant of the all-electric midsize sedan.
Unlike traditional agreements, the Model 3 vehicles under lease will not be available for purchase once the lease matures. Tesla intends to use those vehicles as part of its coming autonomous ride-hailing network, a service dubbed as the Tesla Network. The decision to maintain ownership of its leased Model 3 fleet for such future use indicates Tesla’s high level of confidence in the development of its Full Self-Driving program. Any revenue lost from not offering its used cars for purchase is clearly expected to be generated through other profitable means.
Tesla is hosting an Autonomy Investor Day on April 22nd at its headquarters in Palo Alto, California wherein the company’s roadmap for Full Self-Driving features will be discussed and demonstrated. Several autonomous features have been released to Tesla owners recently including Navigate on Autopilot and Summon, and Hardware 3 – the Full Self-Driving computer – is already being included in new production cars. The Autonomy event will also be live-streamed.
The news of Tesla’s Model 3 leasing program comes on the heels of several other major shakeups for the electric car maker, most of which affect the company’s Model 3 options directly. The once highly anticipated $35k Standard Range variation of the car has been removed from Tesla’s website in favor of the Standard Plus variant only out of the two most affordable options.
Customers can still obtain the Model 3 Standard Range outside of the online process; however, the Plus variation must be purchased first, making the downgrade a software-generated reversion of battery range and computer programs given with a refund.
Tesla’s financial reasoning behind these changes may be clarified further during the upcoming Q1 2019 earnings call scheduled for April 24th. In the company’s announcement regarding the sales retooling, streamlining and simplification of operations were cited as the primary drivers. Additionally, the Model 3 Standard Plus sold at six times the rate of the Standard, according to Tesla, thus offering an opportunity to further simplify the ordering and manufacturing process became apparent.