Cheaper to produce 2024 Tesla Model 3 'Highland' appears in a spy shot with new headlights
If a leak of the uncovered Model 3 "Project Highland" refresh holds water in the end, Tesla's midrange sedan will look much more elegant in its next design iteration. The alleged 2024 Model 3 test mule has been snapped a few times already, but that's the first time it's been uncovered to at least see what it may look like from the front.
There is a new, more streamlined headlight form, just as rumored, and the body curves seem to have become more subtle and aerodynamic.
The 2024 Model 3 is reportedly going to be launched in the fall and come with the latest Hardware 4.0 FSD kit consisting of more cameras with higher resolution, as well as radar wiring and a new computer. Unfortunately, the HW4 set won't be backward compatible as a retrofit with older Model 3 versions, since the autonomous driving computer motherboard is different, as are the camera placements.
For instance, there will be a new front-facing camera similar to what can be seen on the Cybertruck prototypes. It will take over some of the duties that the deprecated ultrasonic sensors did while parking and, together with the new side-mounted cameras, will help the Model 3 feel more confident before curbs or at busy intersections. The eventual Model 3 refresh snapped here indeed has what appears to be a cutout in the bumper where the front HW4 camera might be situated.
The interior isn't visible very well, save for the central display which is either with a different shape or with some sort of cover that extends to the dashboard. The changes to the 2024 Model 3 interior are said to be minimal anyway, and aimed towards streamlining and cost reduction like removing vents and buttons.
Speaking of costs, "Project Highland" aims to cut the Model 3 production expenditures drastically from the alleged US$33,600 it now costs to make. Elon Musk is on record saying that the large-part Gigacasting technology that is used to produce the Model Y and Cybertruck on the cheap, will make its way into the Model 3 manufacturing process as well.
The rest of the savings will come from factory efficiencies and removing redundant parts - something that Tesla is very good at - like the external temperature sensor which will be replaced by forecasts based on the car's GPS location, and so on. "Over and over, we found parts that are not needed. They were put in there just in case or by mistake. We eliminated so many parts from a car that did nothing," tipped Elon Musk at the time, hinting at how he intends to approach the manufacturing of the upcoming Model 3 refresh.
The 2024 Model 3 is tipped to hit the conveyor belts this summer, both at the Giga Shanghai and Fremont factories, so it makes sense that its alleged verification stage prototypes have started to appear more often now. The Tesla Model 3 revamp is likely to serve as a grand rehearsal for the affordable "smaller, cheaper" Model 2, which Elon said will be "2-for-1" in terms of production costs compared to the Model 3.
If Tesla manages to drop the Model 3 manufacturing expenditures with Project Highland significantly enough, it could also lower its retail price once again as the RWD version can only rely on half of the federal tax credit now.