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Tesla Introduces 2 New Model Y Variants in China, Suggests HW4 Imminent Launch

Tesla has filled with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in China for two new Model Y variants. Among other changes, the 2 Model Y variants are listed with a radar option which suggests HW4 computer launch.


Tesla has been updating some of its best-selling vehicles for the past several weeks. Last month, the EV maker introduced the much-anticipated Project Highland Model 3 update.

Project Highland introduced some notable changes to the Model 3 including a completely redesigned and sleeker front facia, updated headlights and tail lights, a secondary 8-inch screen for rear passengers, removed all stalks, updated interior material, ambient interior lighting, and so on.

The Project Highland update has brought the Model 3 in line with the much more expensive refreshed Model S & X. This has meant, that the Model Y, which is the best-selling vehicle in the world, has now become the most outdated of Tesla’s all vehicles.

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This is at least the case from an interior and exterior styling point of view however, the Model Y still leads all of Tesla’s vehicles in powertrain and chassis as the all-electric cross-over is currently the only vehicle in the world, Tesla or otherwise, that utilizes giga castings, 4680 cells, and a structural battery pack.

For most OEMs, this might be enough, however, Tesla has continued its principle of continuous improvement and has recently updated the Model Y. Admittedly, the changes Tesla has made to the Model Y are small.

The EV maker introduced a programable interior ambient lighting similar to the Project Highland Model 3, the standard aero wheels on the Model Y are now black rather than the shiny metallic look of the silver Gemini wheels, and the interior lining material around the door handles and the wood trim on the vehicle’s dashboard have now changed to match the updated Model 3.

The performance and the range of both the rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive Model Y have also improved anywhere between 1.7% all the way up to 14.5%.

Similar to the Model 3 update, these changes were only introduced in the Chinese market or in regions that are supplied by Tesla’s Shanghai gigafactory. And today, Tesla has officially filed with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) in China for two new Model Y variants.

According to a report by CNEV Post, the two new Model Y variants listed on the MIIT catalog include an option for radar, different style wheels, and front fog lights. Given the minor Model Y update of recent days, the changes to wheel size and front fog lights are not that surprising.

However, what was not expected was the option for radar. Other than cameras, Tesla has famously removed all sensors from its vehicle including radar and ultrasonic sensors. Tesla made the move to pure vision together with the company’s HW3 autopilot computer.

Having said that, Tesla has also introduced upgraded HW4 computers in some regions. And the HW4 autopilot sensor suite is expected to reintroduce radar to Tesla vehicles. Unlike the discontinued radar option on Tesla vehicles, HW4 is expected to introduce a brand-new HD radar.

This highly suggests that the option for radar listed on the two new Model Y variants in the MIIT catalog will likely mean the introduction of HW4 autopilot computers and sensors in China.

There isn’t a lot currently known about this new radar option, or Tesla’s plans to introduce HW4 to the Model Y in China, however, being published in the MIIT catalog is the last step before a vehicle can be sold in China, and we’ll be sure to keep you posted once the 2 new Model Y variants start customer deliveries.

Until then, make sure to visit our site regularly for the latest updates.

So what do you think? Excited to learn that Tesla is close to launching two new Model Y variants in China? Do you think the new variants will introduce HW4 in the country? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Image: Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

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Tinsae Aregay has been following Tesla and The evolution of the EV space on a daily basis for several years. He covers everything about Tesla from the cars to Elon Musk, the energy business, and autonomy. Follow Tinsae on Twitter at @TinsaeAregay for daily Tesla news.