The reports are true: Tesla has been quietly working on a new Model 3 version. The new model, which was called the “Highland refresh” before today, made its debut in Shanghai. You can order it now in China and Europe, but we don’t know when it will come out in the US yet.
This is the first time that Tesla has released a new model in China before the US, according to Reuters. Electric vehicles (EVs) make up 30% of new car sales in China, but only 7% in the US. This means that CEO Elon Musk has a much bigger market to grab in China. The company will make it at Tesla’s plant in Shanghai and ship it to Europe. After that, it will be sent to other areas in Asia and the Middle East.
The old form of the Model 3 is still shown on Tesla’s US website, but drivers in the US will be eager to get their hands on the updated version. It is better than its predecessor in a few key ways, such as having a longer range, a cleaner look, and more technology within. Also, the latest Model 3 has been on sale in the US since 2017, when the company had fewer rivals. It’s about time to give the car a new coat of paint, but it’s still not clear if an American version would have the same features.
Tesla Model 3 Debuts in China Before the United States
Changes to the range
The hood of the new Model 3 (on the left) is more upright and less wide than that of the old Model 3 (on the right). (Photo by Tesla)
At first view, the new Model 3 looks like it has a straighter, more aerodynamic hood. According to Electrek, the drag coefficient of the new Model 3 is.219, which is lower than the current Model 3’s.225. That makes the range bigger, but the numbers for the China and Europe versions are different.
The range of the new Model 3 in China has gone up by 11–12%, to up to 344 miles for the Standard Range base model. The European version, on the other hand, gives a range of 319 miles for the Standard Range.
China and Europe both do their own range tests, and most of the time, their figures are higher than the EPA’s. InsideEVs says that the CLTC tests in China are often 35% higher than the EPA, and the WLTP tests in Europe are about 22% higher.
EPA figures say that the base Model 3 has a range of 272 miles in the US. If the new Model 3 for the US had the same 11% increase in range, the base model would be able to go about 300 miles on a single charge.
A better interior and a new touch screen in the back
The interior of the new version has been changed a lot, which makes it more high-end than its predecessor, which was more basic (or “minimalistic”). The 17-inch touch screen that Tesla is known for still takes up most of the cockpit, but there is one small difference: the gear change is now done with buttons on the touch screen instead of a real stalk.
A new 8-inch touch screen with climate settings and entertainment options will be available for people in the back seats. The front and back seats are also more comfortable, and the trunk is bigger.
The updated Model 3 keeps its big screen up front and adds a small screen for people in the back. (Photo by Tesla)
The customised interior adds atmosphere and “wraparound styling that cocoons you inside,” according to the Tesla EU site. The new Model 3 has a better music system with 17 speakers instead of 14 and less road noise thanks to “360-degree acoustic glass.” Tesla also made its Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and microphones for phone talks better.
How much does the Tesla Model 3 that has been updated cost?
All of these improvements cost money. In China, the starting price for the new base Model 3 with rear-wheel drive is $35,800 (259,900 yuan), up from $32,000 (231,900 yuan) for the car it replaces. At the moment, the Model 3 starts at just over $40,000 in the US.
It’s still not clear if and when Tesla will bring the updated Model 3 to the US, or if it will also be better and more expensive than the old one. Also, Tesla’s prices changed often in 2023, so we can’t expect anything to be set in stone.
The word Tesla has been put in place of the Tesla logo on the back of the car. (Photo by Tesla)