Tesla’s much-hyped performance upgrade is here.
At Thursday’s Fremont, California event — where Tesla makes its electric cars — the Plaid new tri-motor version of the Model S was unveiled and delivered to the first 25 customers. “It’s the quickest production car of any kind ever made,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk said on stage, sporting his usual black leather jacket. “Sustainable cars can be the fastest cars, safest cars, most kick-ass cars in every way.”
Musk claimed the Plaid is the first ever production car to accelerate to 60 mph in under two seconds. “This car crushes,” he gushed.
Earlier this week, Musk self-canceled an even zippier $149,990 version, known as Plaid+, claiming there was “no need” for it with Plaid’s level of performance. There’s still a dual-motor, long range, non-Plaid Model S that starts at $79,990. That car has better range: 412 miles on a single charge. The Plaid with all its acceleration and fast speeds has about 390-mile range.
At the livestreamed event Musk detailed the new Model S interior with a new yoke-shaped and stalk-less steering wheel and 17-inch front touchscreen. There’s a new user interface, and the roomier backseat also has a screen for streaming or playing video games.
“You drive around and it really feels like you’re in 2021,” Musk said.
The car auto-shifts to “drive” or “reverse” since there’s no gear selector. Musk explained it as “minimizing the amount of input you need to do until the car can just read your mind.”
Government officials are keeping an eye on the new drive system. A March statement to Mashable from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said, “NHTSA is aware of the … Tesla steering yoke in certain Model S vehicles. We requested and received information from Tesla about the steering yoke and we remain actively engaged with the company during our review.”
At the beginning of this year Tesla CEO Elon Musk had teased the Plaid (and now-defunct Plaid+) upgrade. Now five months later, it has started arriving to customers. Musk pledged to soon get to several hundred cars produced each week, and bump up to 1,000 cars next quarter.
Eventually the Tesla Model X will also have a Plaid option. The Tesla website lists an early 2022 delivery for the $119,990 variant.
For the Model S, Plaid’s estimated delivery date is June. Let’s see if it delivers beyond the first 25 cars.