Tesla is to raise the cost of its high-end models as it U-turns on plans to sell all its cars online to help keep prices down.

The electric carmaker, which sells all new cars either online or from its own stores, said it would re-open some sites already shut in the US but with fewer staff.

It had said just last month that moving all sales to its digital platform would help lower prices by around 6% on average.

The fresh update confirmed plans to keep half its store network operating, paid for by average 3% price rises worldwide for top spec models of the Model 3, Model S and Model X.

It said potential customers had until 18 March – a week today – to place orders at the current prices.

The company, run by tech billionaire Elon Musk, reiterated there would be no price increase to the $35,000 (£26,975) Model 3 which it had previously committed to achieve.

The company said: Over the past two weeks we have been closely evaluating every single Tesla retail location, and we have decided to keep significantly more stores open than previously announced as we continue to evaluate them over the course of several months.

When we recently closed 10% of sales locations, we selected stores that didn’t invite the natural foot traffic our stores have always been designed for.

These are stores that we would have closed anyway, even if in-store sales made up our entire sales model.

A few stores in high visibility locations that were closed due to low throughput will be reopened, but with a smaller Tesla crew.

In addition, there are another 20% of locations that are under review, and depending on their effectiveness over the next few months, some will be closed and some will remain open.

The decisions mark a big departure from Mr Musk’s declaration at the end of February that selling online-only reflected changing consumer habits.

The entrepreneur, whose interests also include Space X, was under pressure to bring down the cost of the more basic Model 3 from $42,900 (£32,369) as competition grows in the electric car sector.

He has said sales of that car are essential to Tesla’s survival and has estimated demand at 500,000 vehicles per year.

(c) Sky News 2019: Tesla to raise cost of top models and U-turns on store closures