Tesla prepares to manufacture Model 3 ‘Highland’
Tesla is apparently about to switch production of the Model 3 to the revised version. Observers from China report that production of the current Model 3 at the Tesla factory in Shanghai will cease in a few days on 14 August.
The first examples of the new Model 3, which has been under development since last year under the code name ‘Highland’, are said to already be in test production there. Series production of the revised Model 3 in China is scheduled to begin in September, he said. “Giga Shanghai has started switching production and is producing the current Model 3 for two days starting this week, alternating Highland production for two days and switching completely to Highland production two weeks later,” the Twitter user ChrisZheng001 claims.
Another source on Twitter also supports this information. “Trial production has already begun, and mass deliveries will start in September, ahead of the initial expectations,” writes the account teslashanghai, which does not belong to the company. “The project is highly confidential, and as soon as a trial vehicle is produced, it will be concealed.”
Another indication of the changeover to the new version is that Tesla has significantly pushed back the delivery dates for the Model 3 in Europe. For example, the configurator for Germany now states that newly ordered Model 3s will probably not be delivered until October or November 2023, and for the Performance variant, it may even take until January 2024.
The Model 3s for Europe and other markets outside North America are produced at Tesla’s factory in Shanghai. Most recently, it was said that Giga Shanghai was running at its full capacity of 750,000 electric cars per year. Tesla is also rumoured to have briefly suspended production at its Fremont plant in California to switch production there to the new Model 3 for the US market.
There are only a few rumours as to what exactly Tesla will change in the new Model 3. Prototype images suggest that the main changes to the appearance will be to the front and rear. “The new car has a more impressive design, with tail lights similar to Porsche Macan, and an overall feel similar to Model S,” wrote teslashanghai. In a vehicle filmed at Tesla’s Fremont site, the driver’s movements apparently suggested that Tesla is doing away with steering column levers for turn signals, headlights and windscreen wipers, as in the Model S.
There are also rumours that Tesla will equip the new edition of its Model 3 produced in China with new battery cells from CATL with lithium manganese iron phosphate chemistry (LMFP). This should increase the range of the base model from the current 491 kilometres according to WLTP to up to 556 kilometres. However, the charging performance of LMFP cells is generally somewhat poorer. It remains to be seen what solution Tesla has found – if the switch to LMFP cells is made at all. Other rumours are about upgrades to the drive and performance, but there has been no confirmation of this yet either.
Another innovation of the ‘Highland’ Model 3, which is not apparent at first glance, is said to concern production. Back in November 2022, Reuters had reported that a focus of the redesign for the Model 3 would be on further reducing the number of components and complexity in the interior. The tweet from @teslashanghai also suggests that production should become cheaper: “The most exciting part is that the price of the new vehicle should be around RMB 200,000 based on the cost of the components of the new project. (Prices are often kept confidential, but some speculation is possible).” 200,000 yuan is currently equivalent to just over 25,400 euros.