By Hyunjoo Jin
(Reuters) – Tesla Inc delivered a high-performance version of its Model S on Thursday, aiming to rekindle interest in the nearly decade-old sedan and fend off rivals such as Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and Lucid Motors in the market for cars. luxury electric vehicles. .
Tesla (NASDAQ 🙂 redefined electric cars in 2012 when it launched its high-end Model S with a sleek design and long driving range, and Chief Executive Elon Musk said the new version was designed for a future where cars cars drive themselves.
“This car gets flat,” Musk said at an evening delivery event held at Tesla’s American factory in Fremont, California.
“It’s like, man, this is just, sustainable energy cars can be the fastest cars, they can be the safest cars, they’re going to be the most powerful cars in every way.”
Musk’s irreverent attitude and speeches peppered with engineering terms have given him star power that he uses to draw attention to the brand, allowing Tesla to avoid hype.
The model is “faster than any Porsche, safer than any Volvo,” said Musk, dressed in a black leather jacket, after driving the Model S Plaid down a test track to the stage.
He said he expects to produce 1,000 a week next quarter.
Before the event, Tesla raised the price by $ 10,000 to $ 129,990 versus $ 79,990 for a long-range Model S.
“The Model S hasn’t changed much in terms of looks over the past decade,” said Jessica Caldwell, CEO of automotive information provider Edmunds. “I think Tesla has to offer consumers something more … like new and fun things.”
The launch of the Model S Plaid, which has already been showcased online, has faced delays and some controversy over the expected yoke-like steering wheel of an aircraft. Musk canceled another variant, the Model S Plaid +, which would have a 33% higher driving range than the Model S Plaid and used advanced battery technology, known as 4680 cells.
“Definitely, the Model S Plaid is intended to help reduce the migration of current Tesla owners outside of Tesla,” said Ed Kim, vice president of consulting firm AutoPacific. “I think what we are seeing now is that Tesla can no longer operate in a vacuum.”
He said the Model S Plaid is a low-volume halo model meant to showcase the automaker and build buzz around the sedan, and Tesla needs to successfully launch new models like Cybertruck and Semi trucks to expand its customer base.
Musk has called the Model S Plaid “the fastest accelerating car ever.”
The most powerful sports sedan goes from zero to 60 miles per hour (97 kph) in 1.99 seconds and has an estimated driving range of 390 miles (627.6 km).
While offering little body style change, the Plaid charges faster at Tesla supercharger stations, has a roomier rear seat, and an upgraded entertainment system, including what it said was “PlayStation level. five”.
“If we think about the future where the car is often on autopilot in full autonomous driving mode, then entertainment will become more and more important. So you will want to watch movies, play games, use the Internet … ”
Tesla delivered just 2,020 Model S / Xs in the first quarter, up from 18,920 in the previous quarter, hampered by production delays.
Musk said in April that the production of its new Model S and X would be “contingent on problems in the global supply chain.”
Shares of Tesla were up 1.9% on the Thursday before the evening’s event.