We've known about Tesla's mysterious "Project Highland" for some time now, though we recently learned that the EV maker has been working on it for longer than most people thought. It's supposed to be a "refreshed" Model 3 project, even though Tesla doesn't officially refresh its vehicles. Now, we have more recent photos of the new Model 3, and Tesla is hiding something.
Tesla has grand plans to bring the Cybertruck to market this year, which stands to make a very big splash, not only in the EV space, but in the global automotive business as a whole. This is because the Cybertruck is arguably the biggest departure from the norm the automotive world has seen in years, if not, ever.
That said, while Tesla claims the Cybertruck is ridiculously popular and may have as many as 2 million pre-orders for the crazy electric pickup truck, the Tesla Model 3 is arguably more of an EV for the masses. So while folks are out scrambling to secure images and footage of the upcoming Cybertruck, we certainly can't forget about the Model 3.
Tesla first brought the Model 3 to market back in 2017, so it's due for a refresh or redesign. However, not long after the larger Model Y came to market, which rides on the same platform as the Model 3, Tesla updated the saloon with new technology and design cues to match its crossover twin. So what does Tesla have up its sleeve related to the upcoming Project Highland Model 3?
The Kilowatts were able to get several spy shots of what appears to be an updated Model 3:
The refreshed Model 3 is expected to arrive in the second half of 2023, which is in line with the timing for the Tesla Cybertruck's launch. However, it likely wouldn't make sense for Tesla to bring the two EVs to market around the same time. Does this suggest the Project Highland Model 3 is coming sooner, or will we have to wait even longer? There are still so many questions.
If Tesla is simply planning to begin casting the Model 3 with its Giga Press machines like it does the Model Y, and/or switching to the structural battery pack and 4680 battery cells, it wouldn't need to conceal so much. Clearly, there are obvious visual updates, as Tesla is keeping them under wraps.
According to Electrek, there's an expectation that the front end of the updated Model 3 will have a notable facelift. Meanwhile, the publication also claims that while a design refresh is expected, most of the improvements may be "at the body level and not necessarily visible." So, again, why the camo?
The other update expected for the refreshed Model 3 is Tesla's Hardware 4 suite, which is supposed to debut with the Cybertruck. If this is true, the new Model 3 won't come until after the electric pickup. Perhaps Tesla aims to provide more concrete details during its upcoming Investor Day event.
CEO Elon Musk recently noted on Twitter that the Cybertruck isn't actually completely ready. As you can see, it has two minuscule brake lights rather than the light bar, and there are some other concerns pointed out recently by Tesla fans on Twitter.
However, when asked if we'll get to see more at the upcoming Investor Day, the CEO didn't respond. If the Cybertruck isn't even ready, and we have no details about when we will get to see the final product, the Project Highland Model 3 may be further off than some people expect. You really never know with Tesla and Elon, though.