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The $35,000 Tesla Model 3 Just Crushed Every Other Mass Market EV

Tesla Model 3 (TSLA)

Tesla Motors Inc caught the tech and automotive industries off guard last week when it revealed level 5 autonomy for all of its new cars. If you already have a Tesla Model S or Model X, you might never be able to enjoy the full self-driving experience unless you buy a new car. In fact, people on the waiting list for the mass market Model 3 could be enjoying a self-driving Tesla much earlier than early adopters who bought the Roadster, Model S, or Model X. Other EV makers are building “low-priced” EVs but the Model 3 has something none of them can offer. It looks like the Model 3 may be the best EV deal yet.

Last year, Elon Musk revealed that he wants to equip his cars will level 5 autonomy with which the car could drive itself across the country. Musk is making good his promise, and Tesla’s cars will have full driving ability that doesn’t require any input from human drivers. You can just enter the car, enter your destination and the car will take you where you want to go. It’s one more reason to buy a Tesla EV if you are still on the sidelines.

Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) Autopilot

Tesla thinks retrofitting old cars for autonomy doesn’t make sense

Tesla Motors tries to give its car buyers a great value for the money. The firm makes expensive cars but they’re worth every dime; at least based on Consumer Report ratings and user reviews. In fact, Musk has claimed that his mass-market Model 3 will still be awesome at $35,000 even if you don’t buy any of the options. In the spirit of offering value for money, Musk thinks you’ll be better off buying a new Tesla equipped with full self-driving hardware instead of trying to retrofit your old car for full autonomy.

In a tweet posted last Thursday, Musk says “Should mention that retrofitting to full self-driving hardware is very difficult. Cost delta is more than buying a new car. Wish it weren’t.”  Tesla has been rolling out software upgrades to its cars without asking drivers to pay for them. Over-the-air software updates are typically installed overnight via wi-fi – owners choose the time. A recent update changed the look and functionality of the displays and added new and improved features. All this without visiting a service center. However, it seems that a hardware upgrade requires a huge cash expenditure and a visit to a service center.

How much more will level 5 self-driving upgrade cost?

Carmakers use a mix of LIDAR and Radar technology to power self-driving technology and Elon Musk has observed that the tech is expensive. Analysts at Fast Company have noted that a full self-driving tech with a mix of radar and LIDAR could cost as much as $320,000. In fact, the current Velodyne system that Google’s self-driving cars use costs about $80,000 and that’s one of the reasons Google hasn’t been able to decide on whether to sell its cars or use the cars to set up an Uber-like service.

Musk has maintained that “It’s better to have an optical system, basically cameras with software that is able to figure out what’s going on just by looking at things,” Now, Tesla Motors ‘ cars will have eight cameras instead of the single camera in the old Autopilot hardware. The cars will also need stronger onboard computers in process the increased information stream. More so, the new cars will sport a stronger solar technology. The new Autopilot tech won’t cost an arm and a leg, but Musk is being honest when he says you’ll be better off buying a new car if you want a level 5 self-driving car.

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Victor Alagbe is a seasoned business and finance writer with a specialty in writing about how to invest for the long-term in healthcare, pharmacology, energy and tech stocks. His long-term focus is on stocks that provide a nice mix of growth and income. For the short term, he passionately writes about trading stock options for the excitement and leverage that stock options offer.