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Tesla unexpectedly announced a mid-range battery option for the Model 3, bringing the price of the vehicle down to $45,000 and completely changing the pricing structure. Musk also revealed that the Model 3 ordering process has been simplified and now has fewer options.

The base price will be $US45,000; it will cost about $US35,000 in California after federal and state tax rebates.

Elon Musk's goal for the Tesla Model 3 is to offer consumers a $35,000 electric auto while at the same time boosting the market for emission-free vehicles.

The cheaper "standard-range" Model 3 is still absent from the new, simplified ordering page, and the company has made no secret of the fact that it can not afford to lose money selling the cheaper cars, no matter the demand. Offering cheaper versions of the vehicle raised a "big and unanswered question" of Tesla maintaining profit targets for the auto, he said.

The specs: an anticipated EPA range of 260 miles, 0-60 mph acceleration in 5.6 seconds, and a top speed of 125 mph-compared with 310 miles, 5.1 seconds, and 140 mph for the Long Range rear-wheel drive version that was originally introduced. Musk said that the long-range version with Rear Wheel Drive (RWD) costing $49,000 will be available to order as an off the menu item for a week. That's a timeline that could just eke a number of cars through for delivery-especially perhaps in California and on the West Coast-in time for the full $7,500 tax credit.

Musk, 47, first unveiled the Model 3 to great fanfare in March 2016, pledging that it would start at $35,000 before incentives.

The mid-range model is one of three main versions of the Model 3 that the automaker is expected to eventually offer - short, mid and long; Tesla has favored offering the more expensive versions first for financial reasons. Within days, the company had more than a quarter million reservations. For more on the new-low cost vehicle from Elon Musk and Tesla, visit the company's website.

The new Model 3 has a delivery window of six to 10 weeks, Tesla said. In May he hinted a late summer or fall arrival and said that shipping the most affordable Model 3 right away would "cause Tesla to lose money and die".