But Tesla will probably take your money.
A new report emerged recently, claiming Tesla's rumored $25,000 "entry-level" model entered the prototype stage with production scheduled for the end of 2021. In other obviously true news, Toyota just announced a car that runs on chocolate and can teleport across the country. Utter nonsense.
It would be impossible for us to claim that Tesla will never sell a car for $25,000, but suggesting such a vehicle will arrive this year (or anytime soon) is complete hogwash.
Looking at Tesla's previous release schedule and taking into account any knowledge of how an automotive product development cycle works, we can say with near certainty that this $25,000 Tesla is years away at best. In our opinion, the entry-level model positioned below the 2021 Tesla Model 3 is a fantasy that's not worth waiting for; so please don't put a deposit down on it.
It doesn't take a private investigator to find instances of broken promises from Tesla. Remember the Tesla Roadster? That was revealed in 2017 and was due to go on sale in 2020 before being pushed to 2021, then 2022. Tesla still claims it will arrive next year, but we wouldn't hold our breath. The Cybertruck? That was supposed to enter production in 2021, but was pushed back to next year. It's the same story with the Semi.
At least those cars were actually revealed in some capacity; the $25,000 car is just a rumor. Tesla CEO Elon Musk first promised a $25,000 model back in 2018, claiming it would arrive within three years. The billionaire doubled down on his claim in 2020, but did not provide a launch date. Even if Tesla magically cobbles together a prototype to show off by the end of 2021, we doubt it would reach production before 2023 at the earliest, and that's a generous estimate.
With all the rumors surrounding the entry-level Tesla, it's odd that there is not one ounce of concrete evidence proving that it's in development. No prototypes, no spy shots, just Musk tweets, a basic design sketch, and online conjecture. Automakers typically test new vehicles before announcing them to the public, giving us a rough idea at what's coming in the future. Tesla doesn't fit the mold of a traditional automaker, so it's not impossible for a new vehicle to arrive without so much as a single spy shot. But as we've seen from launches like the Roadster and Cybertruck, the lack of a functioning prototype is a telltale sign that a car isn't close to series production.
Assuming Tesla does announce an entry-level model in the near future, we have considerable doubts it would only cost $25,000. That's less than a base Toyota Camry. Battery technology is getting less expensive to produce, but even the least expensive EV sold in the US (the 2022 Nissan Leaf) still costs $27,400 before a federal tax credit. Though the Model 3 was briefly available (by special order only) for $35,000, the cheapest model offered right now costs $39,990. That model in question is the Model 3 Standard Range Plus, and it won't be delivered until next January.
For just over $35,000, the Standard Range Plus uses a single rear motor, enabling a 243-mile driving range. For $10,000 more, the Model 3 Long Range doubles the motor count and ups the range to 353 miles. Even if Tesla can drop its lowest current price by over $10,000, there's no way such a price decrease wouldn't result in a significantly lower range.
There's a decent chance our opinion will seem silly when Tesla makes a huge announcement at the end of 2021, showing off its $25,000 entry-level model. However, as we've seen from the Cybertruck, Roadster, and Semi, a product reveal does not mean production is at all imminent. So when Tesla asks for a $100 to reserve a spot for the new entry-level model, we hope our readers can show restrain and not give the company an interest-free loan for a product that (by our estimation) won't arrive until the other three delayed cars have all entered production.
If you want an EV for around $25,000, buy a 2022 Nissan Leaf. It actually exists.