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Tesla launches high-end Model S ‘Plaid’ to stave off Mercedes, Porsche

A Tesla logo on a Model S was photographed inside a Tesla dealership in New York, USA, on April 29, 2016. REUTERS / Lucas Jackson / File Photo

Tesla Inc delivers a high-performance version of its Model S on Thursday, aiming to resume interest in the nearly-decade-old sedan and ward off rivals such as Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and Lucid Motors in the luxury electric vehicle market.

Tesla (TSLA.O) redefined electric cars in 2012 when it launched its advanced Model S with a sleek design and long driving range, but faces a number of new challengers.

The automaker plans to livestream the delivery of the first Model S Plaid at its U.S. plant in Fremont, California at 6 p.m. 19 PT (0200 GMT, Friday), according to its official Twitter account.

CEO Elon Musk has not said whether he will take the stage, but he has been on Twitter and promoted the new model, which is priced at $ 129,990 against $ 79,990 for a long-range Model S.

The latest price for the Model S Plaid is $ 10,000 more than what was shown a few days ago on the Tesla website.

“The Model S hasn’t changed much in terms of appearance over the last nearly decade. I think Tesla needs to offer consumers something more,” said Jessica Caldwell, CEO of car information provider Edmunds.

The launch of the Model S Plaid, already on display online, has been the subject of delay and some controversy over an expected aircraft-style yoke steering wheel. Musk canceled another variant, the Model S Plaid +, which would have had a 33% higher range than the Model S Plaid and used advanced battery technology, known as 4680 cells.

“Model S Plaid is certainly intended to help reduce the migration of current Tesla owners out of Tesla,” said Ed Kim, vice president of consulting firm AutoPacific. “I think what we’re seeing now is that Tesla can no longer operate in a vacuum.”

He said the Model S Plaid is a low-volume halo model that aims to showcase the automaker and create excitement around the sedan, where Tesla needs to successfully roll out new models like the Cybertruck and Semi-trucks to expand its customer base.

Musk has called the Model S Plaid “the fastest accelerating car ever.”

The more powerful sports sedan goes from zero to 60 miles per hour (97 km / h) in 1.99 seconds and has an estimated range of 390 miles.

While it provides some change in body style, as well as yoke control, Plaid is expected to have improved gameplay with new titles and more powerful processors.

The launch event was pushed back to Thursday, June 3, 2021.

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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