Tesla has finally unveiled its long-awaited reboot of the Model S, showing off a 1,020-horsepower “Plaid” model capable of accelerating from 0 to 60mph in about two seconds.
In a launch event at Tesla’s headquarters in Fremont, California, chief executive Elon Musk hailed the new electric vehicle as “like a drive in the future”, saying that deliveries would begin immediately.
Promised since 2019, the Model S Plaid has an estimated range of 390 miles, a claimed top speed of 200mph (“with the right tyres”), and will cost $130,000 (£92,000) in the US.
It also has a 17-inch touch screen, 22 speakers and in-car entertainment system with enough power to play modern blockbuster video games such as Cyberpunk 2077.
After arriving on stage by whipping a Plaid around a racetrack to thumping techno music, Mr Musk promised that the new car make other cars “feel very last century”.
“There is something that’s quite important to the future of sustainable energy, which is that we've got to show that an electric car is the best car, hands down. It’s got to be clear that sustainable energy cars can be the fastest cars, the safest cars, the most kick-ass cars in every way," he said.
“What you have is a car that is quicker than any sports car, faster than any Porsche, and safer than any Volvo – in the same car. That’s insane.”
Tesla’s launch event had been slated for June 3 but was pushed back until Thursday because the car still needed “one more week of a tweak”.
Mr Musk has called the Plaid the “quickest production car ever made”, saying it can go from 0 to 60 mph in 1.99 seconds. However, he made the same claim in 2017 about the Tesla Roadster, which was slightly faster.
That figure also excludes the first foot of movement, leading engineering broadcaster Jason Fenske to estimate that the real number is likely to be more like 2.2 seconds.
Tesla had previously planned an enhanced version called the Plaid Plus with a maximum range of more than 520 miles, but on Sunday Mr Musk said it had been cancelled because “Plaid is just so good”.
Released in 2012, the Model S was Tesla’s breakthrough car, selling more than 260,000 vehicles across the world compared to 2,450 of the company’s first creation, the Roadster.
The name Plaid is a reference to the 1987 Mel Brooks satire Spaceballs, in which a starship accelerates to such high speed that it leaves a trail of cosy chequered beams.
Mr Musk has previously warned that Tesla will need to raise prices due to the global microchip shortage, which he said is causing “insane difficulties”. The Model 3 and Model Y are now about £350 more expensive.