Tesla’s fastest car yet

Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk showed off the Model S Plaid, the electric car-maker’s quickest vehicle to date, at an event for customers at the company’s factory in Fremont, California late Thursday.

“Why make this really fast car that’s crazy fast?” Musk, dressed in a leather jacket and black jeans, said after driving one of the cars onstage after taking it for a spin around the test track. “It’s something that’s quite important to the future of sustainable energy. We’ve gotta show that an electric car is the best car, hands down.”

Tesla currently makes four vehicles: the Model S, X, 3, and Y, but the 3 and Y account for the vast majority of global sales. Musk said the Model S Plaid has a range of roughly 400 miles per charge, a top speed of 200 miles per hour and can go from 0 to 60 mph in under 2 seconds. The cost: roughly $130,000, according to the company’s website.

“This is what I call limit-of-physics engineering,” Musk said.

Model S Plaid
Model S Plaid

The Model S, Tesla’s breakthrough sedan, was first delivered in 2012 and has been long overdue for a refresh. The phrase “Plaid Mode” is a reference to the 1987 comedy movie Spaceballs starring Mel Brooks.

Musk touted the car’s entertainment system, saying it was at the level of a PlayStation5, while the sound system has the feel of a home-theater experience.

“If you think about where the future of the car is, often in Autopilot or self-driving mode, then entertainment is going to become increasingly important,” Musk said. “You’re going to want to watch movies, play games, use the internet.”

Model S Plaid
Model S Plaid interior

Musk’s remarks lacked any “one more thing” surprises about other vehicles in the company’s line up, like the Semi Truck or the Cybertruck.

He neglected to say anything about the 4680 battery cells that Tesla is making in-house, or revisit his recent decision to kill the “Plaid+” version of the vehicle. As the event ended, Musk said they would hand over the first 25 vehicles now and would soon deliver several hundred a week and 1,000-a-week next quarter, he said.

The electric-vehicle market leader, whose eightfold ascent last year helped boost the stock of many newcomers in the space, has seen the tables turn in 2021.

With a drop of 14% through Thursday’s close, Tesla’s stock is headed for its steepest first-half tumble since 2019 and has significantly lagged behind the S&P 500 Index, as well as some smaller peers.

Tesla typically hosts one or two splashy events each year. They typically keep customers excited and plunking down deposits on products, assure investors that the future is bright, and generate an avalanche of media coverage — critical for a company that spends no money on traditional advertising.

Model S Plaid interior
Model S Plaid interior

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Tesla’s fastest car yet