Tesla Model S Plaid revealed in full — and it's even better than we thought

Tesla Model S Plaid displayed at the reveal event
(Image credit: Tesla)

Yesterday was the day Tesla fans have been waiting for: the electric automaker hosted the Tesla Model S Plaid’s delivery event in Fremont, CA, and announced that the first 25 cars have been handed over to customers.

While we already knew a lot about the new version of Tesla’s premium sedan, the company also used the event as an opportunity to tell us a bunch more about what the car has to offer. And it turned out there was plenty to reveal.

For starters, we got plenty of detail about Tesla’s ‘Palladium’ electric motor, with CEO Elon Musk explaining exactly what this new feature involves. Of particular note are the new carbon-sleeved rotors, which promise to offer an extremely efficient and powerful motor in a small package.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that there has been a production electric motor with a carbon over-wrapped rotor,” Musk said. “This is a super hard thing to do because carbon and copper have very different rates of thermal expansion. In order to have a carbon over-wrapped rotor, you have to wind it with extremely high tension and that’s an extremely hard thing to do.”

Thanks to advances in the Palladium motor, the Model S is now significantly more powerful than its predecessors, particularly when you compare it to the original Model S that launched nearly a decade ago in 2012. Tesla also claims to have achieved the lowest drag coefficient of any production car, with a score of 0.208.

tesla model s plaid power curve

(Image credit: Tesla)

While those two enhancements working together will be part of the reason why the Tesla Model S Plaid has an EPA-rated range of 390 miles, that’s not all the company has done to improve the car’s efficiency. In fact, it’s also been designing new heat pumps to boost the efficiency of the car in colder climates.

Musk himself claims that the Model S Plaid will be 30% better in cold climates, and will need 50% less energy to heat the cabin in freezing conditions. Considering EV owners can’t capitalize on the heat produced by the engine, that’s going to make using a Tesla an awful lot more appealing in colder countries.

Of course, one of the most impressive things about the Tesla Model S Plaid is that it can go from 0-60 in 1.99 seconds, and cover a quarter mile in 9.23 seconds. You can watch that feat in action below, though it's worth pointing out that Tesla is measuring its speeds with drag-racing rules. That means the time doesn’t include the initial rollout, so the clock doesn’t actually start until the wheels have made one full rotation.

Oddly missing from the event were details on the Plaid’s battery, though Musk reiterated that it would be able to reclaim 187 miles of range after just 15 minutes of charging; presumably that’s on one of Tesla’s 250 kW superchargers. He also hinted that this limit could increase, with Tesla chargers potentially upgrading to “280 kW, 300 kW and eventually 350 kW.”

No timeline was specified, but considering a lot of competing automakers are going to start offering 350 kW charging capabilities, it’s something Tesla has to be thinking about. There’s no real rush, however, since 350 kW chargers are pretty rare, and it’s not like Ford F-150 Lightning or Kia EV6 owners will be able to take advantage of them regularly. Not for a while, anyway.

However, Tesla has managed to add more space in the rear of the Model S Plaid, giving your passengers in the back seat more space to sit comfortably. There’s also more headroom and legroom at the front, plus hidden vents via which you can control the flow of air on the touchscreen (just like the Model 3 and Model Y), 

The infotainment display’s interface has also received a few upgrades, with better customization and gesture control so you can ensure it better suits what you need when you’re driving. The car also comes with a 22-speaker adaptive sound system, which will alter the audio according to what you’re using it for: for instance, tweaking the bass depending on whether you're playing music or gaming.

Speaking of which, as Elon Musk is very fond of reminding everyone, the system can also play AAA games, including CD Projekt Red’s infamous Cyberpunk 2077.

tesla model s plaid infotainment UI

(Image credit: Tesla)

The Tesla Model S Plaid is available to order now, for the price of $129,990. If that’s beyond your budget, you can always opt for the older Long Range model, which will set you back $79,990.

Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.