Tesla releases refreshed Model 3 with longer driving range


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SHANGHAI: Tesla on Friday unveiled a restyled Model 3 with a longer driving range in China and other markets including Europe, the Middle East, Australia and Japan, putting pressure on rivals who are expected to announce new electric vehicles in the next few days.

In China, the world’s largest auto market, the refreshed version of the Model 3 came with a starting price 12 percent higher than the previous, base rear-wheel drive model, reversing a trend toward price cuts which had sparked a price war between Tesla and its Chinese EV rivals.

The updated version of the Model 3 was Tesla’s first new or restyled car since it launched its global best-seller, the Model Y, in 2020. Tesla plans to start production of its Cybertruck later this year.

The rollout of the Model 3 in China and markets to which Tesla exports from its manufacturing hub there suggested that its Shanghai plant would be first to make the model. Tesla also makes the Model 3 at its plant in Fremont, California.

The new Model 3 promises a longer driving range for China, according to the company’s website. The standard version has a rated range of 606 km (377 miles) based on China’s testing standards. That’s about 9 percent higher than the base model it replaces in China.

Tesla said it had started taking orders and would begin deliveries in China in the fourth quarter. In Australia, deliveries were set for January.

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Tesla sold 64,285 China-made electric vehicles in July, down 31percent from a month earlier, the most recent data from the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) showed.

In a statement issued by its China operations, Tesla said the new model featured a better acoustic system, an improved and more comfortable interior and a display screen for back-seat passengers. Images of the exterior showed small changes that gave the sedan a sleeker front and new headlights.

The Tesla announcement came days before the Munich auto show where German automakers are expected to announce a run of new EVs. Those include a new version of the Volkswagen ID.7 and a new electric CLA model sedan from Mercedes.

Reuters first reported last November that Tesla was developing a revamped version of the Model 3 in a project codenamed “Highland”. People involved in the project said it was aimed at cutting production costs and boosting the appeal of the model.

In China, the new Model 3 starts at 259,900 yuan ($35,807.78), the company’s website showed on Friday.

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