Tesla Model 3 'Project Highland' Confirmed Stalkless, More Surprises Revealed

Tesla Model 3 "Project Highland" hides many secrets 10 photos
Photo: u/ffiarpg via Reddit
Tesla Model 3 'Project Highland" spotted in trafficTesla 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 prototypeRear view of a Project Highland prototypeTesla Model 3 dashboard panel old vs new
A previous drone video showed that the refreshed Model 3 would lose the stalks, and Chinese sources now confirm the information. Not only that, but Project Highland will introduce more changes, with a distinct makeover for the Performance variant.
Although social media is bustling with Cybertruck pictures these days, Google tells us the interest in the refreshed Model 3 is several orders of magnitude higher. And so it should, considering the mass-market potential of the electric sedan. The Model 3 is the only Tesla vehicle not offered a refresh, making it the oldest in the lineup. This is enough reason people want to know exactly what Tesla has in store for its most affordable model. And, as the first deliveries are getting near, reports from China have become more consistent.

If you're wondering why China and not the US, it's because the production of the revamped Model 3 will first begin at Giga Shanghai, with Fremont following soon. As the most efficient Tesla gigafactory, Giga Shanghai is perfectly suited to lead the overhaul of the Model 3. Especially as the most significant changes are aimed at improving manufacturing costs and allowing Tesla to continue the price war with its Chinese rivals.

The most recent development showed that the Model 3 "Project Highland" will land in Chinese stores sooner than previously rumored, possibly in the first week of September. We initially expected the first deliveries to start in October, but it appears that Tesla is in a hurry to stop sales bleeding. With so many rumors about the refreshed Model 3, few customers want to buy the old model, despite Tesla's incentives.

As we reported earlier, Tesla stores are so confident about the updated timeline that they already started taking deposits toward the refreshed Model 3. They also offered to lock up the price so that the potential customers don't pay more even if the new model is more expensive. This shows confidence that Project Highland will be cheaper than the existing Model 3, as previous reports indicated. If they prove true in the end, Tesla might aim for a 200,000 yuan ($27,400 at current exchange rates) starting price, below models produced by the budget brand BYD.

More interesting than this is a new report confirming that the refreshed Model 3 will lose the stalks, at least in the export version. This confirms previous footage of a Project Highland prototype, which appeared to have no stalks. The new report on Chinese social media claims that the gear shifting will be done via the center display, similar to the refreshed Model S/X. The turn-signal stalk will receive the same treatment, with the controls integrated into the steering wheel.

The same report also confirms Hardware 4 cameras and, although not mentioned, the HW4 Autopilot computer. Tesla is already moving fast to abandon the HW3 components, and even the Model Y is now delivered with the upgraded hardware. In addition to the CATL's M3P battery with 66 kWh capacity in the RWD variant, Tesla could also use the same chemistry for the Performance version. This will make the capacity drop from 78.4 kWh to about 72 kWh, which Tesla might compensate for through better drivetrain efficiency.

The most exciting information also concerns the Model 3 Performance. According to a new report, Tesla will use a distinct front spoiler design for the sportier variant. A rear diffuser, like the Model S, is also in store. However, whether this is also limited to the Performance trim is unclear. We'll find out soon enough, as we're less than two weeks away from the rumored start of deliveries.

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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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