It’s finally happening. Pre-production of the refreshed Tesla Model 3, also known as “Project Highland,” is apparently underway at the company’s Fremont Gigafactory, which is currently responsible for manufacturing all of Tesla’s passenger vehicles that make up the rather cheesy but internet-famous S3XY lineup of EVs.

The facelifted Model 3 debuted last year in Europe, China, and several other Asia-Pacific markets, leaving Americans with the first iteration of the electric sedan. That’s not to say the first Model 3 is necessarily a bad car, but it’s undeniable that the facelifted model is even better, with a more comfortable ride, a quieter interior, and several other tweaks that make it a better car overall.

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The refreshed version of Tesla's most affordable EV lands in the United States

The refreshed version of the Tesla Model 3, which is the American EV maker's most affordable model, has been spotted at the company's Fremont factory, hinting that pre-production of U.S.-spec cars is underway.

But the waiting is almost over for prospective customers in the United States, as a couple of photos posted on Reddit show dozens of refreshed Model 3s waiting in a parking lot at Tesla’s Fremont factory. Some have Chinese lettering on the back, hinting that they’re simply imports brought over to the U.S. from China for development purposes, but appearances can be deceiving.


As per another post on Reddit, a blue Model 3 with said Chinese logos on the back also had a VIN that starts with 5YJ, a combination that's reserved for Fremont-made EVs. By contrast, Teslas that roll off the production line in Shanghai, China have VINs that start with LRW.


Several camouflaged and undisguised facelifted Model 3s were spotted on American roads after the car debuted in the rest of the world, leaving little to the imagination, and the factory where it’s built underwent some upgrades that are necessary when transitioning to a new model.

We even saw a prototype with amber indicators that are mandatory for the U.S. market, and these seem to have made their way onto at least one Fremont-built pre-production EV that was posted on Reddit. That said, it’s a very small detail that has little to do with the imminent production launch of the U.S.-spec “Highland” Model 3.

And it couldn’t come at a better time, seeing how the updated list of EVs that are eligible for the $7,500 tax credit is paper thin. The non-facelifted Model 3, for instance, is only eligible for the full tax credit if it’s the Performance version, while Model Y customers can benefit from the entire credit irrespective of the trim level.

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