Tesla revealed a lot of new things on Battery Day 2020, in September last year. New battery technology talked about battery life, while the $25,000 Tesla compact car discussed affordability of Tesla vehicles. The announcement of the Model S Plaid, however, went a bit unnoticed among these other announcements, more so after looking at its price. 140K for a track version of Tesla’s flagship sedan seemed over-the-top, but a deeper look suggests otherwise.
Tesla Model S Plaid Specs
Jonathan from YouTube channel Cleanerwatt recently reviewed the Model S Plaid from all angles. This new variant of the Model S is supposedly the highest level of performance you can get in a Tesla. Tesla says, “the only thing beyond Ludicrous is Plaid”. So let’s have a look at what makes this new variant so attractive.
The range of any electric vehicle is its bread and butter, and Tesla says the Model S Plaid can go more than 520 miles (837 km) on a single charge. While one may not get the significance of this figure, it is more than what Lucid Motors, Tesla’s newest rival, has claimed on their topmost variant of the Air.
Then comes the powertrain. The Model S Plaid will have a tri-motor setup, capable of generating more than 1,100 horsepower combined. That is quite a bit of power. It is enough to drive the Plaid version from 0 to 60 mph (96.5 kph) in less than two seconds. It also beats a lot of competition (electric or combustion) on the quarter-mile, setting up timings of under 9 seconds. That is hypercar-level performance. All this combines to give it a top speed of 200+ mph (322 kph).
And you can book this beast of a vehicle for $139,990, and receive it late in 2021. And if these stats aren’t enough to convince you, Jonathan has made a lot of comparisons with electric rivals as well as the gas-guzzling competition. But the very first competition that you always have is the previous versions of yourself. So let’s look at how the 2021 Plaid compares with previous Model S versions.
Model S: 2021 vs earlier
As one can clearly see, the Model S, ever since its launch in 2012, has improved significantly over the years. The acceleration timing of the very first Model S is more than double of what the Plaid version is set to offer. The most interesting bit is the 2016 P100DL, a car which costs $4,000 less than what the Plaid starts at. This car had very good acceleration and quarter-mile timings but costed quite a bit more than its successors. With Tesla opting to attract customers by reducing prices, the prices of the 2019 and 2020 Model S versions went down considerably, and the upward graph of performance flattened a bit.
But now, with the Plaid expected to focus on a whole new level of performance, the $139K price tag does not seem all that big in front of the 2016 model. For people who bought the Model S in the last two years, $140K seems quite a bit. But compared to the 2016 Model S, the Plaid version seems a massive upgrade in performance without a big hike in price.
The 2016 Model S provided a range of 315 miles (507 km), which means that it cost $429 per mile of range (total cost/miles of range) at the time of the sale. In comparison, the Model S Plaid will cost around $267 per mile of range.
Looking At The Market Competition
It is no secret that the Porsche Taycan and the Lucid Air Dream Edition are two vehicles which have posed as a challenge to the Model S in recent times. With Tesla focusing a lot on the Model 3 and Y recently, the Model S has faced a big hurdle in the form of these two vehicles.
The Taycan is not exactly the value-for-money kind of car. It provides a performance almost at par with the 2020 Model S, but costs almost twice as much. But it does give the thrill of driving that you would expect from a Porsche. The Lucid Air, on the other hand, has come with the reputation of a Tesla killer. With the topmost variant, named “Dream Edition”, they have challenged Tesla in almost all aspects.
With a view on these two rivals, Tesla has brought the Plaid version as a high-adrenaline electric car. It can run really fast on the straights and can hold its own on a racetrack as well. The Model S Plaid currently holds the unofficial lap record for going around the Laguna Seca track in California.
And the Plaid is still very much cheaper than the $169K-worth Lucid Air Dream Edition, as well as the Porsche Taycan, which goes upward of $185K. And it also gives a range little more than what the Air does, and a whopping 2.7 times of what the Taycan does. Efficiency – check.
Performance-wise as well, the Plaid runs a quarter-mile almost a second faster than the Air, and 1.5 seconds faster than the Taycan. It also reaches 60 mph (96.5 kph) more than half a second earlier. Performance – check.
Comparing With Combustion-Vehicle Rivals
Combustion vehicles who are in a similar level of performance with the Plaid are also unable to compete with Tesla’s specs.
Mercedes, Porsche and BMW all have their combustion vehicles in a similar range as the Plaid. But once again, the acceleration and quarter-mile timings of the Model S Plaid just seem too good.
According to a survey carried out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Tesla Model 3, S and X have the least probability of injuries among 50 top models in the USA. Add to this the fact that the Model S Plaid will have a new structural design for batteries, and it will only get safer.
Another facet of the Plaid version is that it will also necessary hardware for full self-driving (FSD), and be fully autonomous, as and how Tesla updates the software. And with the amount of data Tesla is collecting from the beta release of the FSD and the impressive first impressions, the autonomous mode will make the vehicle even safer.
The Model S Plaid is a vehicle for performance enthusiasts. It can around a racetrack really quickly, faster than its competitors. It has the highest single-charge range Tesla has ever offered. Tesla is going to add the new 4680 cells with a new structural design in the Plaid version. This Plaid version beats the existing EV rivals and the gas-fueled competition too.
And, it costs less than all its rivals. And that is why Jonathan (and me too) feels that spending $140K on a real beast of a vehicle that can seat 5 people, go long distances and drive itself, is absolutely worth every penny.