Tesla clears ground for 2023 Model 3 Highland refresh release
As a tangential confirmation that something big is brewing when it comes to its bestselling Model 3, Tesla has reportedly started disassembling and completely removing its production lines at the Fremont factory. Tesla usually applies for revisions or upgrades, but now it has filed for complete destruction of "multiple equipment, tools, and utilities" there, a rather atypical move unless it wants to install brand new manufacturing lines.
Since the only new vehicle it could be producing at Fremont is the 2023 Model 3 refresh dubbed Project Highland, Tesla may be working hard to keep the rumored release schedule with production start in the July-September period. Tesla was initially claimed to split the Model 3 facelift's manufacturing between the Fremont and Shanghai for its North American and Chinese editions, respectively, but last week it was forced to deny that it will be starting production in Shanghai on June 1.
Since the Fremont factory is one of Tesla's oldest and least efficient, pulling out whole production lines and installing brand new equipment makes sense for the stated goal to cut manufacturing costs of the Model 3 significantly. "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 one conference call with investors, referring to the manufacturing approach that recently had Toyota execs singing praises after they took apart a Model Y.
Casting less body parts, disposing of buttons and air vents, or even removing temperature sensors are all approaches that have been bandied about regarding the Model 3 refresh production efficiencies. Elon Musk is on record saying that with a "smaller, to be clear" Model 2, Tesla will aim to halve the production costs of the Model 3, and the 2023 facelift may be used as a dress rehearsal for what will be possible to cut in order to arrive at the rumored US$22,000 Model 2 price before subsidies.