April 12, 2019 / 3:41 AM / in 12 days

Tesla begins offering leases for Model 3

FILE PHOTO: A car carrier trailer carries Tesla Model 3 electric sedans, is seen outside the Tesla factory in Fremont, California, U.S. June 22, 2018. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

(Reuters) - Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) on Thursday started leasing out its Model 3 sedan in the United States, in a financing option that would increase the electric car maker’s customer base.

Tesla said here its customers in the United States would be able to lease any Model 3 variant for a small down payment and monthly payments thereafter, but they will not have the option to buy the car at the end of the lease.

Tesla said that it would begin bundling its autopilot software as a standard feature on all cars, raising the base price, and would drop the entry-level Model 3 Standard from online ordering.

As a result, the lowest-priced Model 3 available for order on its online menu in the United States is now the $39,500 Standard Plus, which includes Autopilot.

The company in February had rolled out its long-awaited $35,000 version of the car with great fanfare. [nL3N20N7EI]

The company also said the Standard variant of Model 3 will now be a software-limited version of the Standard Plus, to simplify production.

As part of the changes to its online ordering, Tesla said the Model 3 Standard variant and the Model 3 Long Range Rear-Wheel Drive will be taken off the online ordering menu but will still be available for order by phone or in stores.

Reporting by Ishita Chigilli Palli in Bengaluru and Peter Henderson in San Francisco; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Shreejay Sinha

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