Tesla CEO Elon Musk says its latest vehicle, the Model S Plaid, features the “most advanced” motor on Earth — that’s available in a production car, that is.
The Model S was long Tesla’s flagship car, a vehicle that appeals to the broadest segment of customers and really demonstrated that electric cars could be not just environmentally friendly but also attractive and even competitive with traditional combustion alternatives.
Motor technology — The premium sedan, which starts at $130,000, has since been supplanted by Tesla’s more affordable Model 3 sedan and Model Y crossover SUV. But the Model S still appeals to certain customers (and offers better profit margins), so Tesla finally dusted off the aging vehicle and jazzed it up.
The Model S Plaid features enhancements like a fast AMD processor for the infotainment (and, umm, gaming) system, rear-seat wireless phone chargers, and additional video screens. And of course, the car is fast — like, 0-60mph in under two seconds type of fast.
To get that type of performance, Musk said in a series of tweets that automaker designed specialized machinery that allowed it to make the engine’s rotors sustain higher speeds. He explained in a series of tweets that a carbon fiber sleeve is wound over the rotor at high tension, and keeps the copper rotor compressed even as it expands due to fluctuations in temperature — that expansion could cause the rotor to buckle or bend if there weren’t compression.
In the same series of tweets, Musk said that Tesla has other ideas in mind to increase performance in the upcoming Roadster electric sports car, set to ship in 2022.
EV race — Ekeing out performance gains and reducing battery prices (and hence, Tesla prices overall) are ways Musk hopes to remain ahead of the competition as legacy automakers start getting serious about their own electric vehicle strategies. Ford began deliveries of the Mustang Mach-E recently, and has announced an electrified F-150 pickup truck as well as plans to increase its spending on EV development to more than $30 billion.
Of course, at its price, the Model S Plaid isn’t a make-or-break car for Tesla. The Model 3 still remains its most important vehicle, and that car remains its most impressive considering that at its $40,000 price point there’s not much else as fast as it. Meanwhile, anything priced at $130,000 is going to be fast.
Deliveries of the Model S Plaid began last week, three months after the company originally said it would begin rolling off the production line. Tesla hasn’t been spared from supply chain disruptions that have befallen the entire automotive industry, and recently accounted for increased component costs by raising the starting price of its Model 3 and Model Y vehicles.