The facelifted Model 3 Highland has been making the rounds online lately following its abrupt launch. Despite slower-than-normal deliveries, Tesla is still pumping out its refreshed sedan, and will soon have a matching facelifted Performance model to complement it.

Welcome to Critical Materials, your daily roundup for all things EV and automotive tech. Today, we've got Tesla on the menu as it privately previews the Model 3 Performance Ludicrous ahead of launch. American's appetite for vehicles is changing, and it's all about cheap cars. Lastly, Canoo is in hot water after its earnings report revealed double its annual revenue was spent on the CEO's private jet.

30%: Here's the 2024 Tesla Model 3 Performance "Ludicrous" Ahead of Launch

 

We've known that a new Tesla Model 3 Performance has been coming for some time. Countless leaks have previewed what to expect from the car while the company remained silent, and now, it looks like the biggest leak of them all has finally happened: a full preview of the car from a private Tesla preview event in Malibu.

Photos and videos of the car in its full uncamouflaged glory were posted by a user on X just hours after a separate user posted photos of a suspected Model 3 Performance facelift (albeit under a car cover) in a Tesla showroom. The leaked media shows tidbits that were expected: a redesigned front fascia, new wheels, a carbon spoiler, and more.

Believed to be designated as the Model 3 Performance Ludicrous thanks to a badge worn on the trunk, this updated trim is expected to be Tesla's quickest Model 3 to date—and its most refined. Official specs haven't been revealed, though some have been leaked. The person who posted the car on X claims to have heard at the event that the M3PL will hit zero-to-60 MPH quickly in an impressive 2.9 seconds.

 

We know all of this happened on April Fool's Day, but after another M3PL in blue was spotted on Reddit and a separate black vehicle on a car carrier on Instagram, it's hard to believe this was an elaborate prank.

More than likely, Tesla is gearing up to generate hype around its newest launch while sales are projected to be slipping across the board. However, one has to question just how much this new Performance trim will cost, especially as the federal tax credit caps out at $55,000. Rumors of a CATL-sourced battery have also put the idea of the tax credit in question. Has Tesla made enough costly changes to disqualify this model from the EV tax credit?

It's not clear when this new trim might hit the streets (or how much it could cost) but one thing is clear: launch is imminent.

60%: Americans Want Cheaper Cars

Nissan starts using BEV Class 8 trucks to deliver cars to dealerships in the LA area

The auto industry is expected to somehow defy analyst expectations of a slowdown across the first quarter of 2024. However, it appears to have done so with one caveat: buyers opted for more affordable vehicles.

Data gathered from various sources by Bloomberg indicates that U.S. car buyers flocked to cheaper models and vehicle types, foregoing large markup-heavy pickup trucks and instead settling for sedans and small SUVs. Consumers also shopped brands that reduced vehicle costs amid rising inflation, hinting that they're simply fed up with the new norm of a $747 average monthly new car payment, and (despite inflation) there's no pandemic-fueled pricing to justify it. 

Via Bloomberg:

The pricing bonanza that juiced automaker profits during the pandemic is fading as production normalizes and the highest interest rates in more than two decades damp demand. Now that inventories are rising, car companies are doling out more incentives and prices are starting to slip.

Cox Automotive also predicts that consumer demand for EVs may have cooled off. The firm notes that consumers are still weary of purchasing battery-powered cars. This is notably due to the lack of charging infrastructure and high prices, the latter of which the industry fears could be filled by cheap Chinese EVs. Instead, consumers have found in favor of hybrids, which have been steadily gaining sales partly thanks to a price tag similar to their gas-powered equivalents.

New car prices also appear to be coming down. Data of average new car transaction purchases tracked by Cox indicate all-time highs paid by buyers between 2022 and 2023 are finally plateauing. Could this be a result of consumers shopping for cheaper cars? Or perhaps it's a drop out of necessity due to increased lending rates raising the monthly payment.

Either way, industry experts are surprised that the industry has maintained steam despite setbacks.

"I’m surprised about how resilient the market has been,” said GlobalData analyst David Oakley. “Affordability is a massive issue for the industry, and it will be going forward. But right now it seems they’re weathering the storm, and people are somehow making it work."

90%: Canoo in Hot Water After Spending Double its Annual Revenue on CEO's Private Jet

Canoo American Bulldog LTV Quad Cab

We've all heard the Taylor Swift jokes, but it looks like Canoo shareholders are pointing their finger at someone else: the company's CEO.

Struggling startup automaker Canoo published its year-end earnings for 2023 on Monday, revealing that it brought in $886,000 in revenue. That's a huge uptick from the nothing it made in 2022, and is largely attributed to its whopping 22 vehicle deliveries to entities like NASA, the U.S. military, and (reportedly) the state of Oklahoma. The automaker has other order commitments to fill in the thousands, but it has a while to get there.

As for losses, well, that's another story. Canoo posted $302.6 million in losses for 2023, of which $1.7 million was reimbursement to Aquila Family Ventures for the use of CEO Tony Aquila’s private jet.

Despite that being nearly double the company's generated revenue, it's not the most that Canoo has spent in recent years. It reimbursed the entity a hefty $1.8 million in 2021, and $1.3 million in 2022—a total of $4.8 million in just three years.

That being said, you know how the old adage goes: it takes money to make money. Canoo predicts to rake in between $50 million and $100 million for 2024. That might seem like a lot, but it falls short of analysts' predictions of $152.5 million.

Canoo's shares fell 41% following the release of its financials, from $3.87 to $2.29 per share (a 99.6% drop from its highest-ever closing price of $506 in December 2020).

100%: Is the new Model 3 Performance enough to make you upgrade?

 

Now, I know all of the details haven't yet emerged about the facelifted Model 3 Performance, but the whole package seems pretty darn slick—a facelift, subjectively better interior with cooled seats, new suspension, and a reported faster zero-to-60 MPH sprint.

I have to admit that I've considered the upgrade myself based on the leaks so far, but it'll ultimately come down to what has changed, and, of course, the almighty dollar.

I'm still curious, though, are the leaks enough to make you want to upgrade, or has not enough changed? With the small reported uptick in performance, are you content with the Model 3 you have now? Let me know in the comments.

Contact the author: Rob.Stumpf@InsideEVs.com

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