In pure Tesla fashion, the upcoming Model 3 is not expected to introduce new notable features. Instead, it will be about cost optimization and simplification. The first leaked picture of a Project Highland prototype shows that the fog lights disappeared, which aligns with the previous trend of removing features. Despite earlier rumors, no new camera was visible at the front, so don't set your expectations too high. The picture shows a more streamlined front design but no radical change, similar to a facelifted model in the legacy-carmaker world.
Production of the refreshed Model 3 was rumored to start in the third quarter of the year, and we don't see any reason why this won't be the case. New information from China indicates that Project Highland is on track, with test production planned for next month. Based on information revealed by @cyfoxcat, Tesla will not allow workers to bring their cell phones into the factory to prevent photo leaks. Tesla has a strict policy for employees that disclose confidential information, but that didn't prevent previous leaks.
Earlier information shows that the refreshed Model 3 might come with a structural battery pack and single-piece megacastings, like the Model Y produced at Giga Texas and Giga Berlin. If so, Model 3 will become the first made-in-China model to feature the new structure design. Currently, the Model Y produced in China doesn't feature megacastings and a structural battery pack, being produced the traditional way.
The refreshed Model 3 is also expected to feature the Hardware 4 computer and sensor suite, including the HD radar tri-band GPS sensor. No ultrasonic sensors should be expected, as Tesla hasn't changed its position regarding Tesla Vision. Since the leaked picture we analyzed earlier doesn't show new cameras at the front, it remains to be seen if parking distance measurements would be any better than with current Tesla models. So far, Tesla Vision proved vastly inferior in this regard compared to the ultrasonic sensors.
If we've learned anything from the refreshed Model S and Model X, the first production vehicles will have many features missing because the software is not mature enough. Hardware-4 Model S and Model X still don't have access to the FSD Beta releases months after production start. The Model 3 will likely share a similar fate. Hopefully, Tesla will improve the software and brings back the missing features.
Rumor: Starting June 1, Tesla's Shanghai factory will not allow workers to bring their cell phones into the workshop, and Model 3 Highland will begin trial production.— Yan Chang (@cyfoxcat) May 8, 2023