American electric carmaker Tesla is planning to build a heavier version of its Model 3 at its $2 billion Gigafactory in Shanghai, China.
Operations in the facility resumed earlier on Monday after the extended Lunar New Year holiday celebrations, following the coronavirus outbreak. Earlier, the Chinese government had ordered the Shanghai facility to be shut down on January 29, 2020, due to the virus scare.
According to a filing made to the regulatory authorities in China, the new version of the Model 3 will be 130 kg heavier than the entry-level variant retailed in the country. Several media reports suggest that the heavier Model 3 will be a longer-range version that Tesla at present imports from the United States.
The electric sedan’s base variant has a claimed range of 403 km (250 miles) while the long-range variant has a maximum range (claimed) of 518 km (322 miles).
It can accelerate from standstill to 100 kmph in 4.4 seconds. Tesla also offers a larger 19-inch alloy wheel option in the long-range model instead of the 18-inch unit in the standard variant. Besides, the new variant will also be fitted with all-wheel drive.
Apart from Model 3, Tesla also manufactures the Model Y electric crossover (deliveries of which will begin in March 2020), and battery cells at its Shanghai Gigafactory. Deliveries of first China-built Tesla models began in December 2019 after the facility was built in a record 12 months.
The Elon Musk-owned electric vehicle company has also recalled 15,000 units of the Model X SUV in North America because of a potential issue that can lead to a loss of power steering assist. This issue can potentially make the steering harder and increase the risk of a crash.
The company will be replacing the mounting bolts and changing the steering gear if needed. Tesla has confirmed that, so far, there have been no injuries or collisions relating to the power steering component.
(Edited by Suman Singh)