Tesla has started trial production of the upgraded Model 3 at its Fremont factory in California. The automaker launched the new version of the Model 3, commonly known as Project Highland, last year in China, Europe, and other Asia-Pacific markets, but until now has only been made at Giga Shanghai.
Since its launch last year, a number of the new Model 3s have been spotted driving on roads in the US, and even though we already know the full design, many of the early US test vehicles were camouflaged. In more recent sightings Tesla has removed the camouflage, and added “Engineering Vehicle” decals to the side, like this one that was spotted in the Bay Area last week.
New Model 3 with “Engineering Vehicle” decal and Texas manufacturer plates spotted today in the Bay Area.
📸: David K pic.twitter.com/iWJz8NgoZO
— Drive Tesla 🇨🇦 (@DriveTeslaca) December 30, 2023
As you can see in the photos, the Model 3 has the Chinese ‘Tesla’ badge on the trunk, leading us all to believe these were simply vehicles shipped over from China for testing in the US while the Fremont factory waits to be retooled for production of the new design. However it appears Tesla has been throwing us all off the scent with those badges, as Fremont has already begun trial production of the new Model 3.
While there was no photo of the VIN taken for the vehicle above, another blue Model 3 was spotted in Fremont with this same logo, and it had a VIN starting with 5YJ, indicating it was built in Fremont, and not China, which starts with LRW. The sticker on the windshield also shows it was newly built, with a manufacturing date of December 7, 2023. (via Reddit)
It is unclear how many units of the new Model 3 have been built at Fremont. Another photo shared on Reddit showed more than a dozen units of the new Model 3 sitting in a parking lot inside the Fremont factory. We can only see the trunk lids of four of these vehicles, and only two have the Chinese ‘Tesla’ badge, one of which we can see has the ‘Engineering Vehicle’ decal on the driver’s door.
Shortly after the launch in China last year, Drive Tesla reported that the new Model 3 wouldn’t make it to North America until early 2024, and with trial production now underway at Fremont, we could be very close to seeing the new Model 3 finally go on sale in North America.
We are also still waiting for the launch of the new Model 3 Performance, which based on filings and hints from an accidental leak to the Parts Catalog, should come with improved performance. Tesla’s Director, Vehicle Programs and New Product Introduction, also shared it will debut in early 2024, and come with some “pretty special” upgrades.