Tesla late on Thursday celebrated the start of deliveries of the world's quickest production car, the 2021 Model S Plaid.
Tesla delivered the first 25 customer examples at its plant in Fremont, California, and confirmed the final specs, including a higher starting price of $131,190 with shipping, up $10,000 from the previously announced price.
For a brand that's normally late on deliveries, Tesla is actually ahead of schedule for the Plaid. At the car's original reveal in January, Tesla said to expect deliveries only in late 2021.
2021 Tesla Model X Plaid
A Model X Plaid is also available to order. It's due to start deliveries in early 2022, and its pricing is unchanged from the previously announced $121,190.
As confirmed by Tesla CEO Elon Musk earlier this week, an even quicker Model S Plaid+ has been canceled, since the Plaid already delivers up all the performance most buyers will ever need.
Tesla dropped a bombshell in January when it announced that new Plaid range-toppers would be introduced as part of a major update for the full Model S and Model X lineups, an update that will see an airplane yoke-style steering wheel also fitted to the cars.
Tesla Model S Plaid specs
Tesla Model S Plaid powertrain changes
Tesla Model S Plaid aero
Central to the Plaid models is a new three-motor powertrain that delivers a peak 1,020 hp. This will see the Model S Plaid sprint to 60 mph from rest in less than 2.0 seconds, run a quarter-mile in 9.23 seconds, and top out at 200 mph. Impressively, the car will hit its peak 1,020-hp rating at about 60 mph and maintain this all the way to the 200-mph top speed. Tesla estimates the range at 390 miles, and says with high-speed charging approximately 187 miles can be added in 15 minutes.
The Model X Plaid is said to hit 60 in 2.5 seconds, top out at 163 mph, and cover 340 miles on a charge.
The electric motors of the Plaid models feature carbon sleeves, which Tesla says helps to improve efficiency while also helping the motors to spin reliably at more than 20,000 rpm. Each motor is paired with a single-speed transmission.
Tesla Model S Plaid thermal and heat pump
Heating and cooling systems have also been improved, with the former resulting in less performance degradation of the vehicle in cold weather and the latter allowing it to deliver repeated performance at the top level. Musk during the event even hinted at the possibility of returning to the Nürburgring.
Also helping with the performance of the Model S Plaid specifically is an aerodynamic body with a drag coefficient of only 0.208 Cd. Although Tesla calls it the lowest of any production car, the rival 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS is a tad lower at 0.2 Cd.
As mentioned above, the latest versions of the Model S and Model X come with a yoke-style steering wheel. It's just one part of a major update to the cabins of both vehicles. Another is the removal of stalks, meaning changing gears now needs to be done via the screen. However, the car can also “guess” what your intended gear should be, forward or reverse, based on the surroundings and by learning your routine.
2021 Tesla Model S Plaid
The main infotainment screen is now positioned horizontally, allowing you to enjoy watching programs while your car charges. And like the Model 3 and Model Y, the latest cabin also features hidden vents, and you can via screens move the airflow around, with two climate zones in front and one in back in Model S. Also in the Model S, the front seats have also been moved slightly forward and the rear bench redesigned, leading to more head and legroom for passengers in the rear.
For more on the Tesla Model S, read the in-depth reviews at The Car Connection.