Tesla is making some small design changes to the Model 3, ahead of the vehicle’s July production. On Tuesday, Facebook user Charlie Cho shared three images on a Model 3 fan page of a pre-release model cruising around the streets, and it shows the company isn’t quite done making design tweaks ahead of launch.
The launch of the $35,000 vehicle is a big moment for Tesla, as it will move the company toward a mass market. Its cheapest car is currently the $68,000 Model S, but big EV names like the Chevy Bolt and Nissan Leaf retail for around half that. Tesla plans to ramp-up production in preparation for this move: where the company currently makes around 25,000 cars per quarter, it’s aiming for an average output of 125,000 cars per quarter by the end of 2018, half of which will be the Model 3.
The new version spotted Monday features a slight change to the rear charging port. In earlier sightings from this month, the port appeared to be entirely blacked out. In the case of the Model S and Model X, the port is a solid red color that matches better with the rear stop lights.
In this new sighting, it looks like Tesla may be experimenting with a two-tone door that looks more like a light than it does on previous models. It looks more pleasing aesthetically, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that Tesla is looking to extend the rear light around the left side.
Unlike the previous sightings, this model also features the Tesla badge. There was little doubt the vehicle would feature the company’s branding, but it shows the company is drawing closer to final production.
The latest sighting also lacks the extra sensors previously spotted on the C-pillars behind the car’s rear door. This was spotted on a black Model 3 earlier this month, and led to speculation that the car could feature an enhanced Autopilot semi-autonomous driving mode.
Adam Jonas, a Morgan Stanley analyst that covers Tesla, said in an interview that the company may be underselling the Model 3’s capabilities to avoid hurting Model S or Model X sales.
Tesla is making some big changes to meet the Model 3 production targets. It’s planning to skip the “soft tooling” process, which automakers traditionally use to determine whether changes need to be made to factory tools before full production. It’s also designed the car with manufacturing in mind, removing some of the more complicated systems found in the Model S. Time will tell whether these moves will be enough.