Tesla Expects Explosive Model 3 Highland Production Ramp, Restarts Battery Production Line

Tesla Model 3 prototypes doing high-temperature testing in Xianjing, China 12 photos
Photo: @xiaoteshushu via X
Tesla Model 3 door panels old (up) vs new (down)Tesla Model 3 Highland door panelsNo stalks on this Highland prototypeNew headrestVentilated seats in the refreshed Tesla Model 3Project Highland prototypeThe first sighting of a Project Highland prototypeRear view of a Project Highland prototypeTesla Model 3 dashboard panel old vs newCATL introducing the M3P batteryHW4 computer on Tesla Model Y
News about the upcoming Tesla Model 3 Highland abounds as the refreshed electric sedan approaches market launch. New reports from China indicate that Tesla expects to quickly ramp up production at Giga Shanghai and is taking active measures to smooth the process.
Although no new Tesla Model 3 prototypes have been spotted recently in the US, tests continue in China, where locals started noticing the camouflaged Model 3 in increased numbers. A batch of Tesla Model 3 Highland prototypes was recently spotted undergoing high-temperature testing in Xianjing, China. According to a report by the local news website 36kr, trial production is already in full swing at Giga Shanghai, with the first deliveries reportedly planned to start next month.

The picture of the cars lined up for testing was shared on Chinese social media networks, revealing that the prototypes feature a round steering wheel. This was unexpected for local Tesla fans, as many Chinese sources talk about it as if it were breaking news. In the US, we've already seen many Model 3 refresh prototypes, and every single one of them had a regular steering wheel.

For Model 3, this also means that it now includes the turn signal buttons, as the refreshed model will be stalkless. Chinese reports also confirmed this, including that gear selection is now done via the infotainment screen. Considering how many people complained about the stalkless design of the Model S and Model X, the change is undoubtedly related to more cost-cutting measures.

The latest information from China indicates that the refreshed Model 3 will have a redesigned rear bumper that looks exactly like the one on the Model S. "I can't even see the difference between them," writes @xiateshushu on X, although he doesn't share a picture this time. If you don't recall, the account previously shared photos of the Model 3 Highland dashboard and door panels. The refreshed model will feature a more radical redesign than what Model S/X received as part of the recent refresh.

According to 36kr, Tesla expects an explosive production ramp-up and is already creating the conditions to accommodate this push. Tesla will restart Phase 1 of its battery production line at Giga Shanghai, which was previously shut down, to support the increased production. This battery line used older technology and was considered obsolete a couple of months ago when Tesla decided to shut it down and use batteries from third-party suppliers instead.

Interestingly, Tesla is operating it again in September, in time for the Project Highland production ramp-up. Many employees working on the battery line left the factory, and only some returned to work. The Phase 1 battery line can also produce fewer battery packs(3,000-4,000 per week) than more modern lines like Phase 2 and Phase 2.2 (about 10,000 packs each).

Tesla clearly expects the demand for the refreshed Model 3 to jump through the roof. This further fuels speculation that it will sell the Model 3 Highland at a lower price point, about 200,000 yuan (about $27,500). This is 15 percent lower than current prices, increasing pressure on its Chinese rivals to lower prices or lose sales.

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About the author: Cristian Agatie
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After his childhood dream of becoming a "tractor operator" didn't pan out, Cristian turned to journalism, first in print and later moving to online media. His top interests are electric vehicles and new energy solutions.
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