Tesla Model S Plaid with ‘practically alien’ tech unleashed: 1000 hp, lowest drag coefficient, and PS5-level gaming

The Tesla Model S Plaid formally made its debut at the company’s delivery event at the Fremont Factory today. The expectations for the Model S Plaid were high in the days leading up to its first deliveries, particularly as Tesla retired the Model S Plaid+ and raised the Model S Plaid’s base price by $10,000.

“Tonight we’re going to show you the next BEST version of the Model S,” Tesla Chief designer Franz von Holzhausen said at the beginning of the event.

Elon Musk launched the Tesla Model S through the company’s newly finished test track and triumphantly celebrated the Plaid’s arrival on stage. In honor of the event and the new Model S Elon Musk wore a jacket with the plaid design at the back. 

Below are the official specifications and details of the Model S Plaid. 

Price and Range

When Tesla announced the Model S Plaid during the release of its Q4 and FY 2020 Update Letter, the company listed the vehicle with an estimated EPA range of 390 miles per charge. The Plaid+ variant, which was discontinued, had a range similar to the Cybertruck with more than 500 miles per charge. Elon Musk described the Plaid’s speed as 

Tesla also improved the Model S car’s Supercharging speed to 187 miles of range in 15 minutes. This is notable, as the Supercharger Network has now grown to 25,000 stations worldwide. 

During the lead up to the flagship Tesla sedan’s deliveries, images of a Model S Plaid test unit’s Monroney sticker made the rounds online. The sticker listed some interesting information, including a range of 405 miles per charge. This is quite a bit higher than the 390 miles originally announced earlier this year, but lower than the 500+ miles of range that was listed for the discontinued Model S Plaid+

During the event, Tesla officially announced that the Model S Plaid would have a range of 390 miles per charge. 

Battery and Electric Motor

The Model S Plaid was expected to maintain its 18650 battery, but with drastically improved cells. Videos from attendees of the delivery event have shared some videos of the flagship sedan’s battery pack, one of which can be seen below. 

During the delivery event, Tesla confirmed that the Model S Plaid would feature its most advanced battery to date. Elon Musk highlighted that the vehicle will have carbon-sleeved rotors, the first of its kind. He noted that mixing Carbon (C) and Copper (Cu) is very difficult because they have “very different rates of thermal expansion.”

Similar to other Teslas, the Model S Plaid will feature a single-speed transmission. “It’s single speed from 0-200 mph,” Elon Musk said. He noted that Tesla was able to break the two-second barrier with the Model S Plaid, quite a feat for a four-door production vehicle that seats five passengers. The vehicle can do 0-60mph in under two seconds. 

Musk introduced a new and improved heat pump, which he called a HVAC system for the car. “It’s 30% better cold-weather range and requires 50% for cabin heating in freezing condition,” he said.  With the use of a heat pump, the Model S Plaid would be capable of running at peak power for extended periods of time. This makes sense considering the that the vehicle was initially honed in the Nurburgring. 

Special Plaid Badge

The Tesla Model S Plaid has undergone a number of key changes over the past months. Previous test units and pre-production Model S Plaid vehicles featured a badge that read the words “PLAID” at the rear, but attendees of the delivery event revealed that the flagship sedan now features a new graphical badge with a plaid pattern, similar to the one seen in the background of the posters for event.

Updated Yoke Steering

Apart from this, the yoke steering wheel of the Model S Plaid features an updated design that includes ridges on the side. This small change help drivers access the scrollers on the Model S Plaid’s yoke steering wheel through touch, similar to the “F” and “J” keys on the Qwerty keyboard. Drivers should be able to feel the scrollers thanks to the ridges without looking down at the wheel for a safer driving experience. 

Lowest Drag Coefficient

Tesla also revealed that the drag coefficient (Cd) of the Tesla Model S Plaid is 0.208, beating the Lucid Air with a drag coefficient of .21, based on tests conducted by Windshear. A few attendees noticed Tesla Model S Plaid vehicles with red and black calipers. Although @klwatts noted that the black calipers were spotted on Model S Plaid test vehicles.

Tesla Software

“I think engineering that is practically alien,” remarked Musk about the Model S Plaid’s features and details.

Elon Musk also introduced a new UI that will roll out in the next software update or later . It includes a new calendar and routes the vehicle based on the places drivers need to go.  At this point in the event, he also finally agreed to add Waypoints for Tesla drivers.

Musk talked a bit about the Plaid’s PS5-level performance for entertainment purposes as well. He revealed a clip of Cyberpunk running on a Model S Plaid infotainment system.


Similar to its stablemates, the Model S Plaid was built for safety. Musk noted that the Model S Plaid would be “faster than any Porsche (and) safer than any Volvo.” The CEO also noted that Tesla is looking to make the Model S into one of the safest in the world.  “We (Tesla) think we can get the lowest probability of [injury] any car ever tested,” Elon Musk said about the Model S. The NHTSA still has to test the Model S Plaid. however Tesla has a good chance of reaching its goal. Musk emphasized that the NHTSA’s top 5 vehicles with the lowest probability of injuries are Tesla vehicles.  

Watch the Model S Plaid’s delivery event in the video below. 

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Tesla Model S Plaid with ‘practically alien’ tech unleashed: 1000 hp, lowest drag coefficient, and PS5-level gaming
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