Tesla is holding a delivery event for its new, high-performance “Plaid” version of the Model S on Thursday. It’s an attempt by Elon Musk’s company to resume interest in its nearly ten – year – old electric sedan, which is also facing stiff competition from Porsche and Mercedes-Benz. When the Musk was released, the Plaid Model S claims to be the “fastest production car ever made.”
The event, held at Tesla’s plant in Fremont, CA, will be livestreamed to the public from 6 p.m. 19:00 PT / 22:00 ET (although the event may not start until closer to 20:30 PT). It was originally scheduled for June 3, but Musk pushed it to the 1
Delivery of the updated Model S is also delayed, with the company initially stating that it expected to start shipping to customers in March. A renewed version of the Model X SUV was also expected to begin deliveries in March, but has been pushed to an unspecified future date.
Plaid Model S was not inevitable. Despite persistent rumors for years, Musk seemed disinterested in the idea and tweeted in 2019 that “[t]here comes no ‘updated’ Model X or Model S. “Tesla instead made constantly minor improvements to both vehicles, he said.
But less than two months later, a prototype version of the Plaid driveline debuted at the Laguna Seca racetrack, releasing the famous California racetrack in just one minute and 36 seconds. The company later unveiled another prototype as part of its battery day presentation in September 2020. Plaid, like the “Ludicrous” acceleration mode in Tesla’s cars, is a reference to one of Musk’s favorite movies, Space balls.
We already know most of the relevant specs: an estimated range of 390 miles, a top speed of 200 mph (with the “right tires”, Musk has said) and a 0-60 mph sprint of 1.99 seconds (although there have been been some questions about the validity of the last claim). The new model is priced at $ 129,990 compared to $ 79,990 for a long-range Model S. A “Plaid Plus” version of the Model S, which should have a range of more than 520 miles, was canceled after Musk tweeted the basic Plaid is “just so good.”
The new Model S also has a simplified interior with a landscape touch screen similar to that found in the Model 3 and Model Y. There is also a stylish U-shaped butterfly steering wheel, just as what Tesla has said will appear in the upcoming second-generation Roadster . And there is an extra screen behind the center console for rear seat passengers. Unlike the Model 3 and Model Y, the new Model S still has a cockpit screen behind the wheel.
Tesla says the Plaid Model S should be able to perform five times as many quarter-mile runs as previous Model S sedans thanks to the new driveline and new heat pump developed for the Model Y. It also comes with a infotainment system powered by a chip capable of 10 teraflops of processing power, allowing passengers to play games such as The Witcher 3 and Cyberpunk 2077 (with wireless controller support).
When first launched in 2012, the Tesla Model S redefined electric luxury with a sleek design and long range. But the company is facing a new wave of competition with the release in recent years of Porsche Taycan, Audi E-tron GT, Lucid Air and Mercedes EQS. If Tesla wants to stay in the luxury EV game, it was necessary to make some changes to its flagship vehicle.
However, the sudden cancellation of Plaid Plus raises questions about the carmaker’s battery plans. Plaid Plus should have Tesla’s new tableless 4680 battery cells. These cells, which are supposed to allow longer intervals of 500 miles or more, are larger than the company’s current cells and measure 46 millimeters x 80 millimeters (hence the name). In addition to more energy and power, the new cells are only expected to result in a 14 percent reduction in cost per second. Kilowatt-hour (kWh) at the cell form factor level.
Plaid Plus was to have a range of 520 miles. While Musk could shock everyone Thursday night with a longer-range Plaid than originally announced, he also recently threw cold water on the idea of needing intervals longer than 400 miles. In a statement to Electrek, Musk said, “more reach does not really matter. There are virtually zero trips over 400 miles, where the driver still does not have to stop for toilet, food, coffee, etc. “
Ignoring for a moment that most breaks in the toilet last shorter than the time it takes to recharge an electric vehicle, Musk’s return to Plaid Plus may signal a delay in the production of Tesla’s 4680 battery cells. In addition to Plaid, the new cells will be used in Tesla’s Cybertruck and Semi vehicles, which are still expected later this year.
In an earnings call in April, Musk said Tesla was still “12 … to 18 months away from volume production at 4,680.” It remains to be seen if we get an update on this estimate at the event on Thursday night. But with Musk, you never know for sure.