Tesla says it is launching the long-promised $35,000 version of its Model 3—and shifting all of its sales online to help lower costs. "It is excruciatingly difficult to make this car for $35,000 and still be financially sustainable," CEO Elon Musk told reporters Thursday, adding that there was "just no other way" than to close stores and lay off employees. He said some stores would remain, but they would be converted to galleries and information centers, CNBC reports. He said closing stores would cut costs by around 5% and the savings would be used to lower prices for all Tesla vehicles, reports the BBC. He didn't say how many of the 378 Tesla stores and service locations worldwide would close.
The company says the $35,000 version of the Model 3 will have 220 miles of range and a top speed of 130mph. Musk said the "interior will be slightly better than was originally promised." The CEO said that with test rides no longer available, the company will change its returns policy to allow customers to return a vehicle even if they have owned it for a week and driven it 1,000 miles, TechCrunch reports. "We're going to essentially allow somebody to use the car for free for a week, and return it for a full refund," Musk said. "And we're going to make it super easy to get a refund, like one-click refund." (Read more Tesla stories.)