Why make, an electric car, that goes “crazy fast.”
I mean, really.
Aren’t EV owners supposed to travel efficiently and quietly to Starbucks, the Birkenstock store? The Apple store?
Not so, says eccentric billionaire Elon Musk, who also believes in populating Mars.
“Why make this really fast car that’s crazy fast?” the chief executive officer asked rhetorically outside Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California, where he touted the new Model S Plaid at an event marking the start of deliveries to customers.
“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.”
Just how crazy fast is it? How about a top speed of 200 mph (320 km/h) and, an estimated range of 390 miles (627 km).
“This car crushes,” Musk said. “It’s like, man, this is, just, sustainable energy cars can be the fastest cars, be the safest cars, gonna be the most kick-ass cars in every way.”
According to a report at Driving.ca, Musk attempted to showcase Tesla’s engineering prowess at a time his company’s lineup is facing competition from battery-powered vehicles including Ford’s popular Mustang Mach-E and the venerable Porsche Taycan.
He touted the sleek sedan, which lists at US$129,990, as being be able to go from zero to 60 miles per hour (96 km/h) in less than two seconds — though that time excludes an initial roll forward.
“This is what I call limit-of-physics engineering,” said Musk, wearing a black leather jacket with a plaid logo on the back.
The model is “faster than any Porsche, safer than any Volvo,” he added.
The Model S was Tesla’s breakthrough sedan, with initial deliveries starting in 2012.
While the older Model S and X are dwarfed sales-wise by the newer and cheaper 3 and Y, the higher prices they command likely make important contributions to the company’s bottom line.
The first 25 Plaid cars were handed over to customers Thursday, and Musk said he expected the company to deliver 1,000 a week by next quarter.
During a less than 30-minute presentation, Musk rattled off improvements including a new battery pack, carbon-wrapped rotors and a tri-motor powertrain.
The name Plaid is a reference to a high-speed space travel scene from the 1987 comedy movie Spaceballs.
Changes to the exterior design made the car more aerodynamic.
Inside, the front seats are moved forward to increase room for passengers in the rear, which now features a second touch screen.
Drivers may, or may not enjoy the aviation inspired, yoke steering wheel, along with hidden air vents, three-zone climate control and ventilated seats.
Another thing is that Tesla got rid of the drive mode selector (D, N, R, P), to reduce the number of input signals from the driver. The car will be learning and adapting to the driver with the Auto Shift feature.
Of course, the driver will still be able to use the infotainment screen to select the driving mode if the car does not guess correctly. Only time and reviews will tell us how smart it really is.
Musk compared the car’s entertainment system to the performance of a Sony PlayStation 5 and said its 22-speaker sound system offers a home theater-like experience.
The Plaid also charges faster at Tesla supercharger stations.
“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,” he said. “You’re going to want to watch movies, play games, use the internet.”
Musk didn’t provide any update about new battery cells the company is developing in-house or discuss the decision to kill a longer-range Plaid+ version of the Model S.
Sources: Driving.ca, Yahoo Finance, InsideEVs, The Verge, Roadshow