Tesla Model 3 production slows at Giga Shanghai hinting at switchover to Project Highland refresh

Tesla Model 3 production at Giga Shanghai appears to be slowing down, hinting that crews at the factory are preparing to begin trial production of the next iteration of the electric sedan known as Project Highland.

Over the last few months there have been countless signs that Tesla is working towards the imminent release of a Model 3 with an updated exterior and interior design. As we reported earlier this month, rumours were circulating the automaker was going to begin trial production of the Model 3 refresh at Giga Shanghai starting June 1, 2023. In an attempt to keep the design (mostly) a secret until its official launch, Tesla was reportedly even telling employees they can’t bring the mobile devices into the production area.

As Tesla China is known to do, they were quick to respond to and deny the rumours, but they have done the same in the past for things that eventually ended up being true. That may be the case again as a recent drone flyover of the factory shows Model 3 production has slowed down.

According to drone pilot Wu Wa, who flew over Giga Shanghai on May 25, he “observed much less activity in the Phase 1 Model 3 area,” suggesting the previous timeline which would require shutting down Model 3 production at the end of May “seems to be right on track.” (h/t: @berlinenergy)

While Tesla has of course not officially commented or confirmed the existence of Project Highland, here’s what we know about it so far.

Based on sightings of camouflaged test cars on the streets of the Bay Area in California, we know at least the front and the rear are going to be redesigned. We have seen a leaked photo that shows of the new front end, but have yet to see any evidence of what the rear end, and specifically the taillights will look like. Also on the exterior we have seen the new 18″ Aero wheels without the aero covers, and as Drive Tesla has previously reported, the 19″ Sport wheels will also see a redesign and also be finished in matte black.

On the interior we know the refresh Model 3 will feature a new steering wheel and feature no turn signal or gear stalks. Instead the steering wheel will feature touch buttons like those found on the Model S and Model X, as well as Smart Shift where the driver can use the touchscreen to change gears into Drive or Reverse.

Based on what we have heard, the Project Highland Model 3 should officially debut in Q3 2023.

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