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Tesla Model 3: rare prototype sighting near SpaceX

It has been months since we got a report of a Tesla Model 3 prototype in the wild. Aside from a few outings at official events, it looked like they were hiding the vehicles.

Now the silver Model 3 prototype appeared yesterday in Los Angeles – near SpaceX’s headquarters and Tesla’s Design Studio.

From the footage of the sighting, it looks exactly like the original silver prototype, which was part of the 3 prototypes unveiled at the original event in March 2016.

We have to assume that it is indeed the same prototype, even though as recently reported, Tesla recently started building new beta Model 3 prototypes at the Fremont factory. Those are expected to feature a few subtle changes or be camouflaged in any outing.

Maybe you can spot a difference, but we can’t. Here are a few screenshots from a video taken by Unplugged Performance (below), which has a garage just outside SpaceX and Tesla’s Design Studio in Hawthorne, California:

There are a few updates that are expected with the new beta Model 3 prototype, and ultimately the production version, like a bigger trunk opening and an updated interior that will feature a new steering wheel and either an actual instrument cluster or a heads-up display, which has been rumored since Musk called the steering controls “spaceship-like”.

We expect to see more prototypes in the wild over the next few months, but we are not likely to see the vehicle in full until the final reveal, which is now planned closer to production in July.

Tesla gave an update last month about its planned production ramp up with the Model 3, which we calculated would mean around  80,000 vehicles delivered in 2017 under a perfect execution, which is unlikely.

There are over 400,000 reservation holders waiting for the vehicle and most of them are looking at Tesla closely in order to time and plan their purchase. The first vehicles will go to Tesla and SpaceX employees who were allowed to reserve the vehicle in advance.

Based on our own estimates after Tesla briefly shared a way to find a sequential reservation number hidden in the source code of the ‘My Tesla’ page of Model 3 reservation holders, there are over 10,000 reservations from SpaceX and Tesla employees. After that, Tesla will start delivering to customers on the west coast and start moving east while prioritizing current Tesla owners.

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