New Tesla Model 3 Performance appears in European certification documents, hinting at upgraded performance

A new version of the Tesla Model 3 Performance has appeared in certification documents for Europe. The new variant has a new motor identification letter, suggesting Tesla has upgraded the performance as part of the Project Highland refresh.

When Tesla launched their redesigned Model 3 in China, Europe, and other regions earlier this month, only the Rear-Wheel Drive (RWD) and Long Range (LR) variants debuted, with the top-of-the-line Performance variant being strangely absent. Even when the Model 3 was certified by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), the Performance variant was not included, leading to some speculation Tesla may have killed it off.

Not only have they not killed it off, it looks like they may have even improved its performance. According to the European Type Certificate issued by the Dutch vehicle authority “RDW,” dated July 7, 2023 and shared on the TFF Forum, the Model 3 Performance now has a ‘T’ in the 8th digit of the VIN, the digit which identifies the type of motor/drive unit in the vehicle.

The first assumption with having the letter ‘T’ is that it is now a tri-motor setup, and this would make sense as the Plaid variants of the Model S and Model X, which are tri-motor vehicles, also have ‘T’ in this part of their VINs in Europe. However the certification document specifically states it is still a Dual Motor, and it is unlikely that Tesla would actually upgrade the Model 3 to a tri-motor setup, reserving that for their flagship vehicles.

Instead what Tesla may have done is kept it as a dual motor setup, but upgraded one of the motors, most likely the front, to the same one that is found on the Model S/X Plaid. This would improve the top-end speed and acceleration of the Model 3 Performance, something that has hindered its performance in races longer than a quarter-mile against gas-powered supercars.

We still don’t know when the refresh Model 3 Performance will debut. Cars are already being shipped from China to those markets where the new Model 3 is available for purchase, and there have been no signs of the Performance variant having entered production at Giga Shanghai.

Unfortunately Canada and the US have been left out of the list of countries that were part of the Model 3 Highland launch. It was particularly surprising for Canada as Tesla now imports cars from China into Canada, which made us hopeful that we would get the new Model 3 this year. However according to internal communication, Tesla is telling employees to not expect the new design to launch in North America until 2024.

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