Tesla Model 3 Highland May Be Announced This Month for North America; Performance Variant Underway

By Kevin Armstrong
New Model 3 at Fremont
New Model 3 at Fremont
vanshv2003 / Reddit

Tesla appears to be set to roll out the new Tesla Model 3 for the North American market after sighting several refreshed versions, also known as Highland, at the Fremont factory. The vehicle successfully debuted in other global markets late last year, including Europe, China, and parts of the Asia-Pacific region.

Tesla may announce the start of Model 3 Highland deliveries as early as this month because the company’s Q4 and Full Year 2023 earnings call is on January 24th. That would provide an ideal platform for the official announcement and garner a lot of attention.

Sightings and Speculations

Before the dawn of 2024, the Model 3 Highland was seen multiple times across the U.S., as posted on Reddit. This further fueled speculation about its North American debut. Reddit user, vanshv2003 shared photos of a Model 3 Highland at the Fremont Factory, featuring Shanghai badges but a VIN indicating Californian manufacture. These sightings suggest that Tesla is preparing for the North American market and potentially for other markets.

Tesla's Model 3 Highland has already made waves in markets like China, Australia, New Zealand, parts of Europe, and the United Arab Emirates since its launch in August 2023. However, it was conspicuously absent in the North American market. While the company did go over its expected deliveries in 2023, there’s no doubt that many buyers are waiting for the latest design and technology that the refreshed Model 3 offers.

Performance Model

The performance variant of the Model 3 Highland has yet to be revealed, but rumors suggest that production has also started on this variant. It’s possible that it may even debut in North America first. The performance trim level is expected more unique than it was in its previous incarnation, with reports saying it’ll be “pretty special.” Instead of just including binned motors and an improved suspension and brakes, the new performance model is expected to stand out against its Long Range counterpart. Tesla is also expected to launch the new Model 3 in North America with a front bumper camera like the Cybertruck.

Model 3 Advancements

Cybertruck has been stealing all the headlines in North America for several months; you may need a refresher of everything the refreshed Model 3 offers. The range has increased by 11 to 12 percent, which equates to the rear-wheel drive getting 346 miles (554 kilometers) and the dual motor long-range getting 423 miles (678 kilometers). This is thanks to several things, including the lighter Model 3, now the most aerodynamic Tesla in the lineup at a stunning 0.219 drag coefficient down from 0.225.

The upgraded suspension provides a more premium ride with new springs & dampers, new geometry on the front suspension, new bushings, and a new way to mount the subframe to the chassis. Moreover, the tires now have more cushioning for an improved ride.

Tesla has made a 30% decrease in wind and ambient noise, a 25% improvement in impact noise, and a 20% improvement in road noise. This has been achieved by using acoustic glass on the rear and back windows (it was only on the front windows before), resulting in "360º acoustic glass". Additionally, more sound insulation has been added for a quieter ride. However, you won’t be able to hear the silent thanks to the new 17-speaker sound system, up from 14 speakers -- complete with two subwoofers and two amplifiers.

The list is endless. The introduction of the U.S.-spec Model 3 Highland couldn't be more timely, especially considering the current list of EVs eligible for the $7,500 tax credit. With the non-facelifted Model 3 and Model Y variants already enjoying this benefit, the arrival of the Model 3 Highland is poised to impact Tesla's market presence and consumer choices significantly.

Tesla Is Removing Steam Gaming in New Model S and Model X Vehicles

By Karan Singh

Tesla is no longer including Steam support in any of its newer Model S and Model X vehicles, according to messages received by customers who are awaiting deliveries of the flagship vehicles.

Tesla previously introduced the Steam beta to newer versions of the Model S and Model X refreshes which had 16GB of RAM as part of the 2022 Holiday Update. This update didn’t support slightly older vehicles with only 8GB of RAM, but a retrofit was available for $2,000 USD.

Tesla No Longer Supporting Dedicated GPUs?

The Cybertruck also did not receive a dedicated graphic processing unit (GPU), with many people noting that they did not have access to Steam on their Foundation-series Cybertrucks and GreenTheOnly later confirmed the Cybertruck did not include a GPU. The Cybertruck also shipped with only 8GB of RAM, matching the Model 3 and Model Y MCU 3 versions based on AMD Ryzen chips.

This could be an indication that Tesla is phasing out the GPUs, as well as the larger RAM packages that came bundled with their top-end vehicles, likely due to cost-cutting, hardware streamlining, and optimization.

Tesla is removing Steam support on newer vehicles
Tesla is removing Steam support on newer vehicles

Future of Steam Support

While the AMD Ryzen RDNA-2 APUs that are built into every Tesla MCU are quite powerful and very capable of rendering 3D or 2D graphics when in mobile configurations, there has been a distinct lack of Steam support on other vehicles, due to the 8GB of RAM.

Given the removal of GPUs from the flagship vehicles, there is also a chance that the RAM on newer Model S and X vehicles will also be facing a reduction similar to the Cybertruck. The Steam Beta could very well be on its way out.

The other possible alternative would be an updated Steam Beta that supports 8GB of RAM, and does not require a powerful GPU, as people may not do too much hardcore gaming on their vehicles.

Gaming Alternatives

Some gaming applications still live on in Tesla’s Arcade Mode, including the ever-popular Cuphead, Sky Force Reload, and Vampire Survivors. We previously discussed Tesla’s lack of Google Casting and Apple Airplay, but a fantastic alternative would be providing HDMI pass-through support on the Glovebox USB-C port.

Imagine being able to connect your phone to Tesla’s displays and gaming on a much larger 19” screen (screen size comparison) as seen on the Cybertruck.

The Future of Tesla Compute

Elon Musk mentioned in the 2024 Tesla Earnings Call that the unused compute power of Tesla vehicles not being driven was equivalent to a larger computing system like Amazon’s AWS. One idea floated by Musk was to use the computers of parked vehicles to conduct inference, data processing, and other tasks – selling the compute capabilities of vehicles to external organizations, while also paying back the owner.

Tesla Releases FSD v12.4: New Vision Attention Monitoring, Improved Strike System With Update 2024.9.5

By Not a Tesla App Staff

Tesla has just rolled out its latest FSD software, v12.4 to employees. Elon Musk announced that this update would be available to employees this past weekend, with plans to release it to the public in small numbers later this week.

Surprisingly, the new update is version 2024.9.5, which is likely based on the earlier 2024.8 branch and not Tesla's latest 2024.14. The spring update (2024.14) brings various new features such as a new media player, a new parked visualization, Audible support, and a Preview of Sentry Mode events, among others.

However, FSD v12.4 brings its own excitement with two new major changes.

Vision-Based Attention Monitoring

The release notes show a new Vision-Based Attention Monitoring feature that replaces the steering wheel nag as Musk previously mentioned.

However, as we predicted, Tesla will still leverage the steering wheel to detect attentiveness when the cabin camera is inconclusive.

The car can only rely on the vehicle's cabin camera, and therefore remove the steering wheel nag under certain conditions:

  • the camera is not occluded

  • there is sufficient lighting

  • the driver is looking forward

  • the driver is not wearing sunglasses

  • the driver is not wearing a low-brim hat or another object that covers their eyes

If any of these situations occur, or if the vehicle doesn't have a cabin camera, then the vehicle will continue to use the steering wheel to determine driver attention.

Tesla is careful to state that images and video from the cabin camera are not saved or transmitted unless you enable data sharing.

Updated Strike System

With FSD v12.4, Tesla has also updated its Autopilot Suspension feature which is designed to enforce the responsible use of FSD.

The current system lets the driver receive up to five strikes (three strikes for vehicles without a cabin camera) before Autopilot and FSD become unavailable. If that happens, then FSD is unavailable for one week. Strikes are only removed once the driver has accrued five strikes, or when Tesla wipes out strikes for everyone, which happens about twice a year.

The new system is more gracious about removing strikes. The vehicle will continue to issue strikes whenever the driver isn't paying attention, however, now the vehicle will gradually remove strikes for the driver after a certain period of time.

Tesla states that one strike will be removed for each 7-day period the driver goes without receiving a strike. So if FSD gets disabled due to strikes, the driver will still go one week without FSD, although now strikes are removed on an ongoing basis. This new strike system is expected to apply to vehicles with and without a cabin camera.

Other New Features

Other new features are expected in FSD 12.4 as well, which we outlined in our look at Tesla's FSD v12.4 article.

They include a focus on improved driver comfort by reducing the amount of hard braking, automatically seeking a parking spot when arriving at a destination and more. Driver interventions are also expected to be drastically reduced with Musk stating that Tesla expects to see a 5-10x improvement in interventions.


Unfortunately, due to FSD v12.4 being on branch 2024.9, it's expected to only be available to owners on update 2024.8 and below, which includes everyone currently on update 2024.3.25.

If no major issues are found with FSD v12.4, we could see it start to roll out to the public later this week.

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Although we share official Tesla release notes, we are not affiliated with Tesla Motors. We are Tesla fans and supporters.

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