Reports are intensifying around an imminent launch for the facelifted 2024 Tesla Model 3 electric sedan. Here’s everything we know so far and what we could expect.
- Project ‘Highland’ 2024 Model 3 may launch within weeks
- New longer range, faster charging LFP battery on all variants
- Expect minor additions and changes, focus on cost-cutting
It might have been only less than a year since the first Reuters report surfaced the rumour that the popular Tesla electric car would receive another major update, internally labelled project ‘Highland’.
The Model 3 is now six years old. It launched in Australia in 2019 and – besides continuous ‘running changes’ – received a major update in 2021.
Its price has also fluctuated over the years as the choice of electric vehicle models grew from new entrants, such as the budget-friendly BYD Dolphin electric hatch, related Tesla Model Y SUV twin, and Polestar 2 liftback rival.
Most reports, public sightings and leaks have indicated that the 2024 refresh could bring a fresher design, new tech and longer range. Here’s what we know so far.
Information in this story is based on unofficial rumours, spy shots and some speculation. Tesla has not officially announced plans for a 2024 Model 3 update.
- 🗓️ When will it launch?
- 💳 How much will it cost?
- 🔋 Will it provide more driving range?
- 👀 Will it look different?
- 📝 What new features will it bring?
- 🤷 What about the other Teslas?
- 🤔 Is it time to make the electric switch?
🗓️ When will it launch?
Reports have been mixed on specific timings, but expect the 2024 Tesla Model 3 refresh to debut this month.
Bloomberg [↗] suggested Tesla’s Shanghai factory – which makes the Model 3 sedan and Model Y SUV twins for Australia – will start mass production of the new facelift at the end of September, alongside customer deliveries in China.
This would support Reuters’s [↗] original reporting that project ‘Highland’ would begin production in the third quarter of 2023 (July to September inclusive), after the Chinese factory purportedly underwent upgrades earlier this year.
Tesla leaker Chris Zheng [↗] also claims the Shanghai plant has already shifted to full 2024 Model 3 production, with 7000 units targeted in August and ramping up to 10,000 in September.
Additionally, Chinese state media [via CnEVPost ↗] has reported some Tesla showrooms in the country have already started accepting reservations for the facelifted Model 3, as it offers subsidies and price cuts to clear stock of the current model.
With the current 2023 Tesla Model 3 price at its lowest point yet and estimated delivery dates for the flagship Performance variant slipping later in Australia, these could all be hints of the impending facelift.
💳 How much will it cost?
There haven’t been any rumours of how much the 2024 Tesla Model 3 facelift will cost – and it’s uncertain whether it’ll be cheaper or pricier.
While traditional new model updates usually carry a price premium, the electric sedan was updated with new features and bigger batteries in 2021 – yet received a price cut of between $7000 to $11,100 and catalysed a sales boost globally.
As at the time of publication, the current 2023 Model 3 is priced from $57,400 before on-road costs in Australia (lowest point), whereas in July 2020, it spiked to start from $73,900 before on-roads (highest point).
As per Tesla style, it continues to make ‘running changes’ to its vehicles without notice, improves manufacturing processes and vertically integrates its supply chain to cut costs.
The American carmaker claimed earlier this year that it has already reduced manufacturing costs of existing Model 3 sedan and Model Y SUV by 30 per cent between 2018 to 2022.
According to Not a Tesla App [↗], the minor update will, unsurprisingly, focus on cost-cutting in areas to potentially reduce the asking price further – to separate itself from the Hyundai Ioniq 6, Polestar 2, and upcoming BYD Seal.
🔋 Will it provide more driving range?
Yes, the new 2024 Tesla Model 3 is expected to feature larger, faster-charging lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) batteries across the line-up.
Chinese battery manufacturer Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Limited (CATL) – which already supplies made-in-China Model 3s – recently announced an all-new ‘Shenxing’ LFP battery, which claims to provide up to 700 kilometres of driving range on a full charge.
The company claims it has addressed key weaknesses of LFP cathodes – energy density, typically slower charging speeds, and sensitivity to low temperatures.
It suggests 10 minutes on a compatible station can recharge the pack from empty to 80 per cent and provide 400 kilometres of range.
The new LFP battery (curiously and previously codenamed ‘M3P’) will go into production by the end of this year, coinciding with the rumoured 2024 Model 3 facelift.
Corroborating this, Chinese state media [via CnEVPost ↗] have indicated the base Model 3 ‘standard range’ rear-wheel drive (RWD) will get this new CATL LFP battery – with the pack to grow the current 60kWh to a 66kWh (gross) pack and provide slightly more range.
Additionally, the ‘long range’ battery Model 3 Long Range and Performance will transition from the current nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC) lithium-ion units to the new thermally safer and longer lasting CATL LFP battery.
The headline-grabbing 700km claim is possible for the Long Range to better compete with the aerodynamic Hyundai Ioniq 6 Dynamiq (614km WLTP claim) and facelifted Polestar 2 Long Range Single Motor (654km WLTP claim).
|Current 2023 Tesla Model 3 battery and charging specs (*according to EV Database)|
|Claimed WLTP driving range||491km||602km||547km|
|Claimed WLTP energy efficiency||11.7kWh/100km||12.5kWh/100km||13.7kWh/100km|
|Usable battery size||57.5kWh*||75kWh*||75kWh*|
|Battery cathode type||LFP||NMC||NMC|
|Max AC / DC charging speeds||11kW / 170kW||11kW / 250kW||11kW / 250kW|
|Recommended charging limit||100%||90%||90%|
👀 Will it look different?
While the current Tesla Model 3 looks subjectively ambiguous – aimed at maximising efficiency and range – the facelift should bring a fresher exterior design.
New leaked images from what appears to be Tesla's press kit sent in China – but shared by CocheSpias [↗] – plus public sightings indicate styling traits in line with the unreleased all-new Tesla Roadster and facelifted Model S and Model X large EVs overseas.
This includes; slimmer and wider headlights, C-shaped tail-lights complemented by a 'Tesla' lettering badge, a smoother front bumper, removal of the front fog light on Long Range and Performance variants, a Model Y-esque rear bumper, redesigned alloy wheels, and new aero covers on the base RWD.
Reuters originally reported that it would gain an even “less complex” interior (which is already quite minimal).
However, don’t expect a major design overhaul. Tesla’s design head, Franz von Holzhausen, told the Ride the Lightning podcast [↗] earlier this year: “There are things that we're always looking at… we haven't seen a need or a demand for a change. So, 'don't fix it if it isn't broke' – that's kind of the mentality.”
'Don't fix it if it isn't broke' – that's kind of the mentality.
📝 What new features will it bring?
Expect minor new features and improvements to the 2024 Tesla Model 3 refresh – similar to the 2021 update, which introduced matte black trim, a redesigned centre console, heat pump, and an electric tailgate.
Most notably, drone footage from YouTuber Caliber197 [↗] in May revealed Tesla tested the use of the central touchscreen for changing drive direction and a revised round steering wheel design.
This would follow the facelifted 2022 Model S and Model X large EVs overseas, which debuted an ‘Auto Shift’ feature that suggested going into drive or reverse depending on what the all-around exterior cameras see. Otherwise, the driver would need to swipe on the edge of the touchscreen or use the backup touch-sensitive buttons at the centre console.
It also controversially removed the steering wheel column stalks, and moved the turn indicators and horn as touch-sensitive wheel buttons with haptic feedback.
We could also see improved touchscreen hardware in line with the updated Model S, Model X and photographed Cybertruck prototype – but it appears to still retain the same 15-inch display size.
Unverified spy photos have also depicted a protrusion on the dash in front of the driver, which could hint at the inclusion (finally) of a dedicated instrument display, a head-up display unit projecting onto the windscreen, or it could simply be a test measuring device.
Furthermore, expect Hardware 4.0 with upgraded higher-resolution cameras, which is currently rolling out on current Model 3s and Ys overseas. While rumours have suggested the reintroduction of radar sensors, the carmaker seems committed to its camera-only ‘Tesla Vision’ safety assistance systems.
Sightings of camouflaged examples seemingly hide a front bumper-mounted camera (similar to the Cybertruck electric ute prototype) to better detect low-lying objects due to the omission of ultrasonic parking sensors.
Not a Tesla App [↗] has purported that the two fender-mounted rear-facing cameras on each side will be joined by front-facing units, the removal of the external temperature sensor, and a more accurate Global Positioning System (GPS).
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has also vowed to bring vehicle-to-grid (V2G) bidirectional charging capability by 2025.
🤷 What about the other Teslas?
The project ‘Highland’ 2024 Model 3 refresh will likely be the next ‘new’ Tesla introduced in Australia, as doubt continues to cloud other models.
The related and top-selling Tesla Model Y electric SUV will reportedly receive a similar facelift a year later in 2024.
The American carmaker has already confirmed the facelifted large Model S liftback and Model X SUV won’t come to Australia since they will not be produced in right-hand drive. It has already refunded reservations to potential customers globally.
Meanwhile, the futuristic-looking Tesla Cybertruck electric ute is readying for a launch later this year or in 2024, but only in North America first and Australians can no longer pay a reservation.
The low-volume second-generation Tesla Roadster electric coupe continues to be delayed, while a Tesla van, people mover, passenger bus and light-duty truck are all confirmed to be in the pipeline.
🤔 Is it time to make the electric switch?
Understandably, there’s hesitancy and fear in making the switch away from traditional and familiar combustion petrol- and diesel-engined vehicles.
For everything you need to know about electric cars, check out our comprehensive guides below.
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