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Tesla Model 3 Right-Hand-Drive Prototype Spotted, Signals Possible Global Expansion

This prototype sighting seemingly confirms Tesla will be chasing sales in previously untapped markets like Britain, Australia, and Japan.

A photo of a prototype Tesla Model 3 in right-hand-drive configuration has surfaced, potentially suggesting that Tesla is trying to boost its near-future profit margins by taking the electric sedan global.

The above photo of the RHD Model 3 was posted to Reddit on Monday by user Mr_Salty_Peanuts. Going by the visible 4×4 logo on the Ford F-series visible through the Tesla’s windows, this isn’t simply a mirrored image, but a sighting of the real deal. One small difference noticeable through the Model 3’s window is a revised infotainment interface, which features the speed display toward the right side of the screen, rather than the left where it’d be for left-hand-drive cars sold in most of the world.

RHD vehicles are preferable in countries that drive on the left half of the road as it mirrors the benefits of driving an LHD car on the right side of the road. The following countries are some of the biggest and wealthiest of those that drive on the left side of the road and could make for promising markets to Tesla.

  • Australia
  • Hong Kong
  • Japan
  • India
  • Ireland
  • New Zealand
  • Singapore
  • South Africa
  • United Kingdom

Despite automotive analyst JATO Dynamics declaring the Model 3 Europe’s bestselling electric vehicle for the month of February—the model’s first full month of sales on the continent—sales of the vehicle haven’t reached optimum in the key market of the UK, as many British buyers would rather wait for RHD cars. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has promised that RHD Model 3s are on the way, but based on one of his tweets combined with a statement on Tesla’s website promising deliveries in the “second half of 2019,” we can expect RHD Model 3s to reach the market some time in Q3.

Tesla may be marching toward RHD Model 3 production in pursuit of higher profit margins per vehicle as it works out how to further increase its manufacturing capacity. This would be the same strategy Tesla used for the Model 3’s first 20 to 21 months of production, wherein Tesla prioritized the manufacture of higher-trim, more profitably spec’d cars, while it cut its teeth on its first truly mass-produced model. Analysts have questioned whether Tesla can turn much if any profit on its (again delayed) base Model 3, which needs to be sold in far greater numbers to equal the profitability of the lower-volume, higher-trim Model 3s.

The Drive contacted Tesla for a statement on its RHD market plans and we will update when we receive comment.