Tesla Unveils ‘Project Highland’: Major Upgrades to Model 3 Sedan


Tesla has introduced a series of enhancements to the electric Model 3 sedan, marking the first major update in the car’s six-year run on the market. Although Tesla has continuously provided minor updates to the Model 3, including over-the-air software adjustments, this set of upgrades, known as ‘Project Highland,’ represents the first significant alteration to the car’s exterior appearance.

These changes are not overly drastic, as Tesla itself acknowledges that the updated vehicle is still easily recognizable as a Model 3. The most noticeable alterations are seen at the front of the car, where the hood and bumper’s leading edges have been redesigned, and the headlights have become slimmer and more horizontally oriented.

Importantly, these changes aren’t purely cosmetic; they have improved the Model 3’s aerodynamics, reducing its coefficient of drag from 0.23Cd to 0.21Cd, aligning it with the best-in-class performers. Along the sides, there are newly designed alloy wheels and tires optimized for better aerodynamics. At the rear, there are updated brake lights. These aero improvements translate into increased range, with a range boost of between five percent and eight percent, depending on the specific model.

Tesla Model 3 Exterior

As a result, the base rear-wheel drive Tesla Model 3 can now cover 554 kilometers on a single charge, while the popular two-motor, four-wheel drive Long Range version is approaching a 700-kilometer range, officially rated at 679 kilometers. Tesla has not yet provided updated figures for the 450-horsepower Performance version.

Pricing details have not been released yet, but it is expected that the revised Model 3s will be slightly more expensive when they become available, likely in the new year. Given that Tesla recently lowered prices for the Model 3 and the larger Model Y SUV, the new prices should still be competitive.

Inside the car, changes are subtle but include improvements in build quality, sound insulation, and materials. The cabin’s overall appearance remains unchanged, but Tesla claims to have used “premium materials (real aluminum, textiles, etc.)” and enhanced execution. The central 15.4-inch touchscreen remains largely the same, with a slimmer bezel, but there is still no traditional instrument panel or heads-up display for the driver.

Tesla has refrained from introducing a controversial ‘yoke’ style steering wheel but has replaced the column stalks with indicator switches and multi-function buttons on the steering wheel. Gear selection is now managed through the touchscreen, although there is a manual override option.

Tesla model 3 interior

Other enhancements include an upgraded 17-speaker sound system, an eight-inch touchscreen for rear-seat passengers, heated seats for all occupants (with ventilation for the front seats), and additional USB-C charging ports with substantial power output. The cabin also boasts a new ambient lighting setup.

According to Tesla, these updates aim to enhance refinement, comfort, and overall premium quality while staying true to the Model 3’s sleek and minimalist design philosophy. Tesla has maintained its commitment to delivering exceptional range, efficiency, sports car performance, and handling at an accessible price point.

It is anticipated that the Model Y will receive similar updates, but Tesla has not provided a timeline for those changes. However, when you’re the industry leader, there may be less urgency to make major alterations.

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