The anticipation surrounding the upcoming Tesla Model 3 Highland continues to escalate as the refreshed electric sedan nears its market debut. Fresh reports from China shed light on Tesla’s proactive steps to expedite production at Giga Shanghai, indicating a robust approach to streamline the manufacturing process.
While no recent Tesla Model 3 prototypes have emerged in the United States, testing persists in China, where local observers have noticed an increasing number of camouflaged Model 3 vehicles. A fleet of Tesla Model 3 Highland prototypes recently underwent high-temperature trials in Xianjing, China. According to a report by 36kr, trial production is already in full swing at Giga Shanghai, with initial deliveries set to commence next month.
Images of the test vehicles were shared on Chinese social media platforms, revealing an unexpected feature: the prototypes sport a round steering wheel. This revelation surprised many Tesla enthusiasts in China, who treated it as groundbreaking news. Conversely, in the United States, numerous Model 3 refresh prototypes have already been observed, each featuring a conventional steering wheel.
For the Model 3, this design alteration signifies the integration of turn signal buttons, as the refreshed model will adopt a stalkless configuration. Reports from China corroborate this, underscoring that gear selection will now be facilitated through the vehicle’s infotainment screen. While the stalkless design of the Model S and Model X garnered criticism, this change likely aligns with Tesla’s efforts to implement cost-saving measures.
Fresh insights from China suggest that the revamped Model 3 will sport a redesigned rear bumper closely resembling that of the Model S. An observation shared by @xiateshushu on the social platform “X” emphasized the striking similarity, despite the absence of an accompanying image this time. This same account had previously shared snapshots of the Model 3 Highland’s dashboard and door panels. The forthcoming refresh of the Model 3 promises a more dramatic redesign compared to the recent updates received by the Model S and Model X.
According to 36kr, Tesla is bracing for an explosive surge in production, proactively creating conditions to accommodate this acceleration. The automaker plans to reactivate Phase 1 of its battery production line at Giga Shanghai, which had been idle earlier, to support the augmented production output. While this battery line employs older technology and was considered obsolete just a few months ago when Tesla opted to halt its operations, it is now being brought back online to meet the demands of Project Highland’s production escalation.
Interestingly, despite the relaunch, only a subset of the employees who previously worked on the battery line has returned, and the production capacity of the Phase 1 battery line is notably lower (approximately 3,000-4,000 packs per week) compared to the more modern Phase 2 and Phase 2.2 lines (each capable of producing around 10,000 packs).
Tesla’s strategic moves strongly imply that it foresees robust demand for the refreshed Model 3. This intensifies speculation that the company might introduce the Model 3 Highland at a lower price point, around 200,000 yuan (approximately $27,500). This price reduction, amounting to a 15 percent drop from current prices, adds pressure on domestic Chinese competitors to either lower their prices or face the risk of losing market share.
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