Tesla Model 3 Highland manual gear selector is in a unique place

Key Points

  • 🚗 The Tesla Model 3 Highland no longer features physical gear stalks, relying on its infotainment display for gear shifts.
  • 📱 Tesla’s in-vehicle software mastery enables intuitive gear shifting through the infotainment system.
  • 🔄 Complaints about in-display gear selectors in the Model S and Model X have diminished over time.
  • 🆕 The Model 3 Highland includes manual gear selectors as a backup, similar to the Model S and Model X.
  • ⚠️ In the Model 3 Highland, the hazard button’s proximity to the rearview mirror may make manual gear shifting less convenient if the infotainment system fails.

An immediate observation that could be observed from the Tesla Model 3 Highland is the fact that the all-electric sedan no longer features any physical stalks. This means that just like the Model S and Model X, the Model 3’s gear shifts would mostly be done through its infotainment display. 

This is quite intuitive, of course, considering Tesla’s mastery of in-vehicle software. Such a feature was received with much concern when it was rolled out to the Model S and Model X, with critics arguing that it would be cumbersome and unsafe. Over the years, however, complaints about the Model S and Model X’s in-display gear selector have all but disappeared. 

Credit: Tesla

Then again, one could argue that it would be okay for the Model S and Model X to use their infotainment system to shift their gears since the vehicles are equipped with multiple gear shifting options: Auto Shift, an in-display gear selector, and a manual gear selector beside the hazard button in the center console. The addition of Auto Shift has not been announced for the Model 3 Highland as of writing, but all demonstrations of the vehicle so far have featured drivers using the gear selector in the infotainment system. 

Credit: Tesla China

Fortunately, press images from Tesla, both from China and Europe, have revealed that the Model 3 Highland also has a contingency in the event that the in-display gear selector becomes unusable. As could be seen in images released by the company, a set of manual gear selectors is also included in the Model 3 Highland. Just like the Model S and Model X, the gear selectors in the Model 3 Highland flank the hazard button. 

Such a system may not be too much of an issue on the Model S and Model X since the hazard button on the flagship vehicles is on the center console. However, in the Model 3 Highland, the hazard button is located close to the rearview mirror. Thus, in the event that the Model 3 Highland’s in-display gear selector becomes inoperable, shifting gears manually will likely become an awkward, or at least cumbersome, experience. It would most definitely work, but its operation would not be very convenient or natural.

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