Tesla could still use some of its key cost-saving methods when producing the new redesigned Model 3 Highland. Although the teaser image of the Model 3 Highland frame differs from that of the pre-facelift Model 3, there doesn’t appear to be any “Gigacast” halves at the front or back, like on the Model Y or the Cybertruck. There also appears to be no structural battery pack for CATL’s new manganese phosphate CATL M3P, which offers a total capacity of over 66 kWh.
Tesla has so far only installed the structural battery, which uses the cells as supporting structures for the frame, in the 4680 battery in the Model Y. It remains to be seen whether the huge Gigacasting presses at the Fremont factory will be used for the production of the Model 3 Highland, when it launches in the US sometime in early 2024. This could help reduce production costs and ensure that the US-made Model 3 Highland has a larger price difference than its predecessor than the one you now have in China or Europe.
However, Tesla has made a number of changes to the exterior and interior design of the Model 3 Highland. One of the most obscure innovations now appears in the Highland operating instructions: latch for opening the rear doors in an emergency. The rear door locks, which remain hidden in storage pockets like the front door manual release handles, are now covered by a plastic tab.
“In the unlikely event that Model 3 is without power, you can manually open a tailgate,” Tesla advises, by prying open “the bottom cover of the tailgate pocket” and then pulling “the mechanical release cable” forward.
The plastic cover must now be removed before pulling the Model 3 Highland tailgate release to escape when there is no power to open, perhaps as an additional safety precaution for children. Recently, a mother and her daughter were trapped in a rented Tesla in exactly such a situation and spent hours inside because they didn’t know how to open the Tesla doors manually, for example.