Bottom line: Tesla is inching closer to offering its promised $35,000 Model 3 but we're not quite there yet. As pricing drops, so too does performance and range, sacrifices that must be made to push the cost down.

It's been two and a half years since Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced the Model 3, the company's budget-minded electric sedan with a promised starting price of just $35,000. Despite production issues that have slow deliveries, there are plenty of Model 3s already on the road although none were sold at that promised $35,000 price point.

Tesla this week gets one step closer to that goal with the rollout of a new mid-level option that starts at $45,000 before incentives and gas savings. The new rear-wheel drive model sports a battery with an EPA estimated range of 260 miles, or 50 miles less than the packs found in the long range and performance Model 3s.

The newer Model 3 is also slower than its all-wheel drive counterparts, needing 5.6 seconds to reach 60 mph and topping out at just 125 mph. In comparison, the performance Model 3 can hit 60 mph in 3.3 seconds and has a top speed of 155 mph.

After incentives (federal tax credit) and potential gas savings (over a spread of six years), Tesla advertises the cost as being $33,200.

With regard to the federal tax credit, customers are eligible for the full $7,500 credit if they take delivery by the end of the year. If delivery falls to between January 1 and June 30, 2019, the credit will be cut in half to $3,750. Orders delivered between July 1 and December 31, 2019, will only be eligible for a $1,875 credit.

Tesla on its website notes that current delivery timelines are four weeks for the west coast, six weeks for central and eight weeks for the east coast. Users can also pick their car up directly from the Fremont factory and get it in less than four weeks.