Why all standard black Tesla cars are about to cost $1,000 more

Tesla will start charging $1,000 for its once-standard black paint color next month, according to a tweet Wednesday by CEO Elon Musk, the latest pricing adjustment by the automaker as it aims for profitability.

Basic white will become the new (and only) free standard paint color, Musk added in a followup tweet. Musk didn’t explain what prompted the change or provide any further details.

Automakers make pricing adjustments and offer incentives as tools to boost margin and sales. Yet, Tesla’s particular style — which mainly involves Musk tweeting out the changes — often feels like a company floating trial balloons to see what sticks, or what its customer base will accept.

Tesla has beefed up its publicity game in recent months on the heels of a disappointing quarter. In April, Tesla reported a wider-than-expected loss of $702 million in the first quarter after disappointing delivery numbers, costs and pricing adjustments to its vehicles threw the automaker off of its profitability track.

For instance, the company released Tuesday a video announcing Beach Buggy Racing 2, the latest video game to be added to its arcade app. It also launched a promotion that invited people to its showroom to try out all of its video games.

Earlier this year, Musk tweeted about a price increase to its “full self-driving” or FSD feature. Tesla vehicles are not self-driving. Musk has promised that its advanced driver assistance system Autopilot will continue to improve until eventually reaching that full automation high-water mark. Autopilot now comes standard. The FSD feature, a software upgrade, costs $6,000.

The price of vehicles with the standard Autopilot is higher (although it should be noted that this standard feature is less than the prior cost of the option).

Meanwhile, Tesla is about to see its federal tax incentive reduced again, a development that could weigh on sales. (It should be noted that Musk stressed during Tesla’s shareholder meeting that there is not a demand problem for its vehicles, notably the Model 3.)

Musk reminded his Twitter followers on Wednesday of the tax credit reduction. Tesla delivered its 200,000th electric vehicle in 2018, a milestone that triggered a countdown for the $7,500 federal tax credit offered to consumers who buy new electric vehicles. The tax credit will drop to $1,875 after June 30. 

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