First Tesla was ludicrous, then insane and now the American electric brand is going to plaid.
Tesla’s colourful leader, Elon Musk, has tweeted this image of the new Model S Plaid, the company’s new triple-motor powertrain that it has been teasing since late 2019. The triple-motor system will debut in the Model S but is expected to also be available in the Model X SUV and the new Roadster (which is due to enter production in 2021).
While ‘plaid’ may be an unusual choice for the name of a powertrain, particularly for a premium-priced luxury car, it’s in keeping with the unconventional nature of Tesla. That’s because it’s a reference to the 1987 Mel Brook’s Star Wars parody movie, Spaceballs, where the fastest speed a spaceship can travel is ‘plaid’.
While the name may be a joke, it’s performance won’t be. In a series of tweets Musk claimed the Model S Plaid+ will be capable of 0-60mph (96km/h) in “less than two seconds” and will hit 185km/h in a quarter mile. He also claims it will have a top speed of 321km/h, but only with the “right tires” fitted. That’s because Tesla claims the three motors combine to produce a whopping 760kW of power – that’s 1020-horsepower. The company also claims it has a range of 627km on a single charge.
The exterior design is an evolution of the original Model S, with Tesla claiming the aerodynamics have been improved to help improve the range and performance while retaining the “iconic look” of the out-going model.
It’s inside where the dramatic design changes are. The most obvious change the image displayed is the steering wheel, which looks like it’s been taken from Knightrider’s K.I.T.T. or an aircraft. The half-wheel, or “yoke” as Tesla calls it, is all about simplicity with no stalks or paddles, only a pair of small rotary dials and haptic buttons to control all key driving functions.
Also new is the 17-inch horizontal touchscreen that dominates the centre fascia and controls all the infotainment functions. Musk even tweeted that the huge tablet-like screen can play the latest video game “Cyberpunk” (in case playing video games is important to your car buying decision).
The new Model S is due to launch in the US by the end of the year, which suggests Australian deliveries won’t start until the middle of 2022 at the earliest.