Elon Musk Says Tesla Model S Plaid Plus Canceled
What would have been the quickest, most powerful the most expensive version of the Tesla Model S, announced during last summer’s Battery Day, has now been officially canceled, with Tesla CEO Elon Musk dropping the news on Twitter without much of an exposition. And the actual reasons for it are likely to be debated for quite some time in Tesla circles.
To recap, the tri-motor Model S Plaid Plus promised 1100 horsepower, a top speed of 200 mph, a range of over 520 miles, and a 0-to-60 mph sprint time of less than two seconds. The Plaid Plus would have also featured the new 4680 battery cells that the automaker had been anticipating to arrive—part of a structural battery pack that would have also lowered the overall weight of the vehicle while also increasing rigidity.
The sedan was initially announced with a target price of $139,990, but gained another $10,000 later on along with an expected launch date in mid-2022, setting its sights on the upcoming AMG version of the Mercedes-Benz EQS and the upcoming Lucid Air. Until it was canceled, the model was displayed with a $149,990 price tag—well north of the starting price of the upcoming Mercedes-Benz EQS electric flagship—but also a decade-old design underneath.
Elon Musk’s reason for the model’s cancellation, however, may not sit well with those who had placed a deposit on the future model, and likely boils down to a combination of business and technical reasons.
Plaid+ is canceled. No need, as Plaid is just so good.
As Musk indicated, the Model S Plaid is already offers about 95% of the of what the Plaid Plus would have, and at a $20,000 discount. The milder of the Plaid models serves up a 390-mile range and 1020 horsepower, and sprints to 60 mph in 2.0 seconds flat. So by the metrics that one could measure and feel in an everyday setting, it was mostly the range that the new battery pack needed to deliver. If there is a big engineering gap that had to be closed, it was very likely on the battery range side, with new cells likely being too far on the horizon, given Tesla’s other priorities at the moment. It’s also plausible that not enough orders for the model had been placed to make it a worthwhile effort on the business side of things.
Another possibility is that Tesla could be planning to focus simply on more range and other luxury features, rather than performance and range. It’s also true that Tesla has been working on reducing variety and complexity in its cars for a while now, and has consolidated a number of model variants in an effort to reduce production costs. A new and very different Model S may have inflicted too much differentiation, especially when it comes to the structural battery, for the variant to be worth it at the end of the day. It’s also possible that Tesla wants to wait with the new battery cell type until the next Roadster actually arrives.
The Plaid Plus news came after a rather stunning bit of news for the same model: the Plaid Plus ran a quarter mile in 9.247 seconds at 152.09 mph according to Jay Leno, with the company later claiming an even quicker time of 9.23 seconds at 155 mph. Had it been a production car and not a prototype, this would have perhaps meant more than it does at the moment.
The Model S itself, all versions of it, had also faced significant delays earlier this year just as exterior and interior update were in the works. Tesla produced close to zero Model S sedans in the first quarter of 2021, according to its financial report, in addition to producing no Model X crossovers. The company still delivered some units produced in 2020, but the two updated models reportedly faced delays due to supplier issues. The two were due to receive new infotainment screens and Cessna-style controls, among a few other interior updates.
The next big launch for Tesla is the long-awaited Cybertruck, production of which could start at the tail end of this year, if all goes well.
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