Tesla Model 3 'Project Highland' Leaked Dashboard Image Shows More Cost-Cutting Measures

Leaked Tesla Model 3 dashboard shows cost-cutting measures 6 photos
Photo: @xiaoteshushu via Twitter
Tesla Model 3 Highland next to the Model YTesla Model 3 Highland front door trim panel (below)Tesla Model 3 prototype spotted in Palo AltoTesla Model 3 prototype spotted in Palo AltoTesla Model 3 prototype spotted in Palo Alto
We learned that Tesla aims to slash the price of the refreshed Model 3 in China by as much as 14%, taking the price war to a whole new level. We have evidence that Tesla is taking cost-cutting measures to the extreme, eliminating many individual parts, including in the car's dashboard.
The redesigned Tesla Model 3 might be perceived as bringing a fresh face and new features, but its true purpose is to democratize electric vehicles. Tesla started a price war in January and intends to win whatever it takes. Changing the Model 3 entirely is not economically feasible because it would raise the development costs. Instead, Tesla is doing everything it can to make the refreshed Model 3 perceived as new without spending much money. Not only that, but it found creative ways to slash costs and further turn the screw on its rivals.

This was rumored from the early days of the development when we saw the first prototypes testing in California. Back then, people were disappointed to learn from leaks that the Project Highland Model 3 would not feature new cameras or ultrasonic sensors. In the meantime, more cost-cutting measures have become evident. For once, the Hardware 4 computer and infotainment system dropped the discrete GPU and slashed the RAM and storage in half compared to the previous iteration. This means there's no way the Model 3 will have better features.

The best decision Tesla made to reduce manufacturing costs was to use megacastings and structural battery packs on the Model Y. The same approach is expected to be implemented in Model 3 production to simplify manufacturing and reduce build time and costs. Tesla spoke during Investor Day about a new manufacturing process called "unboxed vehicle," which would further reduce the time needed to assemble a car. This would not be practical for the refreshed Model 3, considering it requires a production line redesign. Still, Tesla will use the technique at a smaller scale where possible in the Model 3 production.

The EV maker takes hints from the car body and the megacastings. Instead of producing many separate components that must be joined during production, Tesla is making a single part integrating several components. This is obvious from a leaked picture of the refreshed Model 3's dashboard, which shows the new part next to the old dashboard. The new one appears larger, but only because it integrates several components.

Previously, the top of the dash, the air vent section, and the trim piece were three separate parts. The new dashboard, pictured above in the main picture, integrates all these parts into a single component, sort of like a single-piece dashboard similar to the car body's megacastings. This should speed up assembling and also cut costs. We will likely see more of the same in the coming months, as Tesla wants to make the new Model 3 cheaper than many Chinese rival models.

Chinese media claims that the revamped Model 3 will start volume production in September, with the first deliveries in October. The base RWD variant will feature CATL's new M3P battery with a capacity of 66 kWh, which is a 10 percent improvement over the current model. The starting price is also expected to drop to 200,000 yuan (under $28,000) thanks to the manufacturing optimizations.
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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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