Updated Tesla Model 3 is approaching production

Updated Tesla Model 3 is approaching production

TSLA Tesla Model 3

  • Some factory workers required to lock away mobile phones
  • Refreshed model may show longer, sleeker mass market sedan

Tesla Inc. is nearing the final stages before starting trial production of its revamped Model 3 sedan in Shanghai, according to people familiar with the matter, which Elon Musk is betting will compete more effectively with Chinese rivals.

The revised version of the Model 3, Tesla’s first mass market EV that helped propel the company to profitability, is slightly longer than the earlier version, is sportier and has a sleeker interior design, the people said, asking not to be identified because the details are private.

Some production staff at Tesla’s Shanghai facility have been required to place their mobile phones in purpose-built lockers outside the factory’s production lines starting earlier this month to prevent potential photo leaks, one of the people said. The production line of Phase 1 of the plant might be offline for a few days at the end of this month for adjustments, they added, noting those plans may still be subject to change.

A Tesla representative said the company had no immediate response.

Tesla first unveiled the Model 3 in the US in 2016 and started production the following year. The company reduced its manufacturing costs with the ramp up of its Shanghai facility at the end of 2019. Last year, Tesla teased that it would have some upgrades to the car’s interior and power systems as part of a refresh, without elaborating.

It’s crucial that Tesla refresh its product line in China, as it’s the company’s most important market after the US and become intensely competitive. A price war that Tesla kicked off at the start of the year has mushroomed, resulting in steep discounts across a range of models.

At least 155 pure-electric and plug-in hybrid models are expected to be unveiled in China this year, according to Sanford C. Bernstein.

Tesla has slightly raised prices of its models in both the US and China in recent weeks after its first-quarter earnings disappointed some investors. The pricing of the new Model 3 remains highly confidential and it’s not yet clear how fluctuating raw material expenses may factor into its eventual sticker cost.

Recent speculation online about the revamped car has centered around a steering wheel design that’s similar to the Tesla Semi and the Model S, with the absence of a traditional stalk, perhaps supporting rumors of a shift toward on-screen controls for toggling between park, drive and reverse.

Tesla contributed almost one-quarter of Shanghai’s total automotive production value last year, and local authorities pledged last week to continue to boost ties with the company through autonomous driving and robot modules. Tesla’s Shanghai plant accounted for more than half its global production in 2022, and the facility can now produce as many as 1.1 million cars a year.

— With assistance by Charlie Zhu, Chunying Zhang and Dana Hull

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