Larger Model 3 facelift with more aggressive design nears production as Tesla tries to prevent spy shots
After the news that Tesla has embarked on an unprecedented equipment purge and retooling of production lines at its Fremont factory, now comes Bloomberg's report that Giga Shanghai has already started producing a pilot batch of the alleged Model 3 design refresh dubbed Project Highland. Both factories were rumored to be its production hubs ever since Tesla's Model 3 facelift plans first appeared, one for North America, and one for Asia.
While one of Tesla's main goals with the new Model 3 is to cut production costs by introducing unibody castings and removing redundant parts or features, there is also plenty to look forward to in terms of interior and exterior changes. According to previous rumors and purported test mule sightings, the Model 3 mid-cycle redesign includes new headlights and bumpers, as well as a more spartan interior with stalkless steering wheel, similar to what Tesla did with the Model S refresh.
Both of those rumors are now getting reiterated by Bloomberg's sources at Giga Shanghai. Some employees who allegedly work on Project Highland there, were asked to start their shifts by leaving their phones in dedicated lockers earlier this month. The unusual veil of secrecy is reportedly because of the new Model 3 pilot production, as Tesla doesn't want to risk more photos getting out before it announces the new design and features.
What Bloomberg's insiders add to the Model 3 refresh knowledge, however, is that it will be longer and "sportier" than the current version that is getting a bit long in the tooth indeed. It isn't clear if that would mean a more aggressive design like the sleeker headlights and more aerodynamic looks that leaked earlier, or if there will be under-the-hood changes that will make it more performance-oriented.
Bloomberg also confirms a more "streamlined" interior, which jibes with the reports that Tesla may remove buttons and vents from the cabin, like it did with the Model S refresh. It could also introduce its stalkless steering wheel with capacitive buttons that was spotted on an alleged Model 3 refresh recently. Other notable changes include the Hardware 4.0 FSD kit with more and better cameras, including one in the front bumper, as can be seen in the spy shot below.
As for the Highland Model 3 actual release date, that is still up in the air, but if history is any indication, Tesla may launch the Model 3 refresh in October, just in time to call it a 2024 model year. That doesn't mean that there won't be more rumors and sightings in the summer, as that's when the trial production and prototype testing should start in earnest if Tesla wants to release the new Model 3 in the fall.