Tesla CEO Elon Musk is in China this week, and the company is rumoured to show off the first official look at the new Model 3 design. The refresh design, which is known as Project Highland, has been in development for well over a year and is expected to go on sale in the third quarter of the year.
As we have reported this week, Musk is in China for the first time in three years, first visiting Beijing, with the second stop on his itinerary being Shanghai, home of the automaker’s Chinese Gigafactory. According to a report from Bloomberg, citing individuals with knowledge of the plans, Tesla will “give an early glimpse” of the new Model 3 on Thursday.
The report says the first Highland vehicles coming off the production line at Giga Shanghai on Thursday are prototypes, backing up an earlier rumour that Tesla was planning to begin trial production of the new Model 3 at the factory on June 1. Tesla China later denied that rumour, but like in other instances where they have done the same, this rumour looks like it may be true.
We first heard about Project Highland earlier this year, but the company has been working on the project since at least late 2021. Rumours around the redesign have been at a fever pitch in recent months as camouflaged vehicles have been spotted around the Bay Area in California, and drone videos from above the Fremont factory have shown some changes to the interior, including an updated and stalkless steering wheel.
There has been one leak showing off the front end of the new Model 3, and it features brand new headlights and sleeker design. The rear is also expected to undergo a redesign, although we haven’t seen any leaks on what the new taillights might look like.
If Tesla does show off a glimpse of the new Model 3, it likely means production versions are just around the corner. It is not exactly Tesla’s modus operandi to show a “glimpse” of a new car months before it is ready to be delivered to customers as that would likely put a big dent in existing orders as customers will wait for the newer version. Tesla did do this with the Model S and Model X refresh in 2020 and 2021, but those are Tesla’s low-volume flagship vehicles, and not a high-volume product like the Model 3. It also wasn’t Tesla’s plan for production to be down for so long as the process to retool the production lines took longer than expected.