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Tesla’s given us a glimpse of its latest Model 3, and it’s packed with slick improvements. The sensational ride handles itself quite well on all types of terrain. The interior matches Tesla’s exceptional style.
USA TODAY

Tesla handed over the first 30 versions of its Model 3 electric car to employee buyers Friday, officially launching the company’s first car geared toward the mass market.

At a starting price of $35,000 before tax incentives, the compact car is suddenly within reach for many American families, although the price escalates quickly after adding options.

The initial version will cost $44,000 before the standard model is available later this year.

“The whole point of Tesla was to build a great affordable electric car,” CEO Elon Musk said Friday night at an event outside the company’s factory in Fremont, Calif. “That’s what this day means. I’m confident it’ll be the best car in its class, gasoline or not, hands down.”

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Here are five surprises we learned about the Model 3:

Color costs extra. If you want the Model 3 in anything but black, you’ll have to pay $1,000 extra. 

Although many automakers offer special paint at a premium, most offer a choice of standard colors at no extra charge. Not so with this car.

The optional color upgrades are Midnight Silver Metallic, Deep Blue Metallic, Silver Metallic, Pearl White Multi-Coat and Red Multi-Coat.

The longer-range version costs less per mile. Tesla is offering a 310-mile-range version of the Model 3 for a $9,000 upgrade.

While that sounds like a lot, the price is less per mile of range. At 310 miles and a base price of $44,000, the higher-range version costs $142 per mile. With a range of 220 miles and a price of $35,000, the standard version costs $159 per mile.