January 26, 2022

Here's what the Tesla Model S Plaid could mean for the carmaker

Ed Niedermeyer, author of “Ludicrous: The Unvarnished Story of Tesla Motors,” joins “TechCheck” with his reaction to the first deliveries of the Model S Plaid and what it means for the business. Subscribe to CNBC PRO for access to investor and analyst insights on Tesla and more: https://cnb.cx/2BT2E7y

Tesla began deliveries of its new Model S Plaid, a high-performance version of the company’s flagship electric sedan, on Thursday with a livestream event at the company’s test track near its factory in Fremont, California.

The company’s design leader, Franz von Holzhausen, served as master of ceremonies and carried a sledgehammer on stage to introduce CEO Elon Musk — a humorous allusion to a previous event where von Holzhausen smashed and shattered a Cybertruck’s windows on stage.

Musk made his entrance on Thursday by driving a Model S Plaid around the Tesla test track and onto the stage before stepping out to cheers of select customers and fans invited to the event.

Previously, Musk had promised the long-anticipated Tesla Model S Plaid would deliver acceleration from 0 to 60 mph in under 2 seconds, and he crowed about “breaking the 2-second barrier,” repeatedly on Thursday.

Musk said the new Model S would be, “Faster than Porsche but safer than Volvo.” But he also caveated some of his own sweeping safety claims by noting that NHTSA has not yet rated the Model S Plaid for safety.

“We’re in production and gonna deliver the first 25 cars now, and then basically should be at several hundred cars per week soon and a thousand cars per week next quarter,” Musk said.

According to Tesla’s website, the tri-motor, all-wheel drive Model S Plaid produces 1,020 horsepower, features a battery with an estimated EPA-rated range of up to 390 miles and can hit a top speed of 200 miles per hour, if equipped with the proper wheels and tires. Those won’t be available until the fall, according to the fine print on the site.

On Thursday, Musk offered no significant details on the Model S Plaid battery pack, saying simply, “We have an all-new battery pack.” (Tesla is struggling to manufacture a 4680 battery cell that it designed and intends to use in its own vehicles someday.)

Musk quickly moved on from a brief mention of the battery to show images of the Model S Plaid drive unit, and boasted about a “carbon-wrapped” rotor that is part of the vehicle’s electric motor.

“You can pick this motor up with your hands and it can accelerate a two-ton car to 60 miles an hour in 2 seconds. That kind of power-to-weight is insane,” he said.

He noted that the Model S Plaid can get 187 miles of range in just 15 minutes plugged into a Tesla Supercharger. Attendees would have a chance to drive around the track, he said.

Musk also touted myriad changes to the Model S Plaid interior, most of which were previously disclosed.

The four-door sedan includes a steering yoke rather than a traditional steering wheel, a 17-inch center touchscreen display and separate 8-inch display in the rear for passengers’ entertainment, charging ports in the front and rear that can charge laptops and other mobile devices, and processing power that the company says puts its systems on par with modern gaming consoles like the PlayStation 5.

When Musk began to discuss the user interface updates to be featured in the Model S Plaid, attendees began to heckle him, shouting for “Waypoints,” a feature they’ve long wanted the company to deliver. With waypoints, drivers could enter several destinations into one trip within Tesla’s navigation system.

“You really want waypoints,” the CEO said acquiescing. “Alright, fine we’ll do waypoints. Goddamnit. Alright,” Musk laughed.

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