Tesla to deliver updated Model 3 in 2023
Tesla is apparently working on a revised version of the Model 3 to reduce production costs and increase the appeal of the five-year-old electric sedan. However, the scope is still open – both in terms of changes to the appearance and technology, as well as those in production.
Reuters, citing four insiders, reports that one focus of the redesign for the Tesla Model 3, which is being developed under the codename ‘Highland’, is on further reducing the number of components and complexity in the interior. But the company also wants to focus on “features that Tesla buyers value”, according to the informants. The Model 3 refresh, which is to be based on the redesigned Model S and Model X, could also include some changes to the exterior and the performance of the electric drive system.
That sounds obvious, but a lot can be read into these statements – for example, whether the changes to the body will be in the style of the new Model S or on a similarly subtle scale. The highlight of the drive technology of the Model S and X is the layout with three electric drives – is this possible in the Model 3 in terms of installation space or is it just about a little more power? Will the Model 3 also get the yoke steering wheel of the larger models? The latter seems rather unlikely, as the Yoke steering wheel with its integrated touch fields for indicators, headlights etc. is probably more expensive to produce than the current Model 3 steering wheel with two rotary knobs. A separate speedometer display may also be seen as unlikely due to the costs.
Possible savings in production, on the other hand, could rather be derived from the Model Y. In the case of the technically closely related SUV model, Tesla has further reduced the number of components (and thus the necessary steps in assembly) with the large die-casting machines. A structural battery pack with 4680 round cells as in the Model Y from the Giga Texas would also be theoretically conceivable. It is unclear whether Tesla already has enough 4680 cells available, as production of the Semi e-truck, which also relies on this battery format, is now also underway.
Like the current model, the new Model 3 will be produced in Fremont, California, and in Shanghai, China. Production in China will start in the third quarter of 2023; it is not yet known when production will begin in Fremont. It is also unclear to what extent Tesla intends to reduce the costs of the Model 3 with the redesign. According to the Reuters report, this also depends on the suppliers.
It is well known that Tesla is working on the next big step: Elon Musk had recently stated that Tesla is planning to develop a new platform for smaller electric cars that will halve costs. Whether and how much of this can already be incorporated into the existing models is unclear.
What is clear is that when it was launched, the Model 3 was virtually unrivalled in the mid-size sedan segment. There were hardly any serious alternatives for a sedan in this price and performance class. In the meantime, however, other manufacturers have followed suit, such as BYD with the upcoming 800-volt Seal model or Hyundai with the Ioniq 6, which also relies on 800-volt technology. Toyota, too, will produce a corresponding electric sedan in cooperation with BYD, at least in China, to name just a few examples.
Another aspect of the redesign is to make the changes visible to the outside world. Tesla has already repeatedly made changes to the Model 3 since deliveries began and introduced new features, for example in the software or the battery cells. “Having said that, consumers still tend to equate visual changes with newness,” Ed Kim, president of market research firm AutoPacific Grouo, told Reuters. “The upcoming changes that potential customers can see and feel will be very important in ensuring that EV customers still have Tesla at the top of their minds as truly excellent alternatives to Tesla are starting to flood the market.”
With reporting by Sebastian Schaal, Germany.