The Tesla Model 3 has now been on sale for six years, and has received a variety of minor tweaks and updates over that time period. Now, it looks as though the new Project Highland update could bring a comprehensive refresh to the popular mid-sized electric sedan.
Update: 31/08/23 9:05 p.m. ET: This article has been updated with details released by Tesla about the Model 3 refresh.
Up front, the most striking change is to the front fascia, which is smoother and cleaner than previously. While the lower grille aperture remains, the small fog light pods previously mounted low on either side have been removed. The headlights have also been changed to a sleeker design with nicely-integrated daytime running lights. The front fenders and doors also feature a new strake around the turn signal area.
The images show changes at the rear, too, with a diffuser-like arrangement cutting into the bumper at the back. This is a contrast to the relatively plain rear bumper seen previously on the Model 3. The limited resolution of the photos prevents us from seeing just how drastic the change is, and whether there are actual aero tweaks involved, or just styling changes. The rear tails have also been given a more modern claw-like design.
Beyond what we see here, the update is set to bring a broader raft of changes to the model's fundamentals, as The Drive has covered previously. The core concept seems to involve cutting component counts for cost savings while updating the car's external and interior appearance to remain fresh in the eyes of customers.
Updated WLTP range figures for the rear-wheel-drive Model 3 see the standard model achieve 344 miles with 18-inch wheels, while the Long Range model will achieve an impressive 421 miles. That's a decent improvement of approximately 12 percent over the current Model 3, which posted WLTP range figures of 305 and 374 miles, respectively. U.S. market figures will be different, due to the EPA's testing cycle, but this indicates more range will indeed be on the table nonetheless.
The Model 3 has been updated inside, too. The interior features aluminum and new fabric materials, with a fresh ambient lighting system illuminating the cabin. The cabin has been sonically improved too, according to Tesla, with new acoustic glass and soundproofing materials. Other changes include a new 8-inch rear display screen with infotainment and climate controls, new steering-mounted controls to replace column-mounted stalks, and slimmer bezels on the main 15.4-inch infotainment screen.
Sources have also previously indicated that the Project Highland update will first go into production at Gigafactory Shanghai, with some indication manufacturing has already begun. Tesla's Fremont, California plant will almost certainly produce new facelift models in turn. Current reports indicate deliveries will begin in October for Europe and the Middle East. Tesla is yet to announce availability for the U.S. market.
A refresh makes plenty of sense given the Model 3's increasingly long stint on the market. Tesla faces fresh competition every year as more rivals fill out the EV sedan market. The company will be hoping that the update will keep sales strong in partnership with its aggressive pricing strategy.
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