The official presentation of the fastest version of the Tesla Model S electric car in the Plaid specification made it possible to understand what changes the car has undergone, and not all of them are aimed only at improving speed characteristics. The EV gets a new interior, a more efficient powertrain with increased charging speeds, and an on-board entertainment system that rivals game consoles.
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The leather jacket in which Tesla boss Elon Musk presented S Plaid has a rectangular patch on the back. White rays on a black background. They should symbolize the view from the windshield of a spacecraft accelerating to the speed of light. An allusion to the movie "Space Balls", which director Mel Brooks parodied the "Star Wars" series of 1987 films. And a symbol of the hope Tesla has for the new model.
“Basically, we stole our product plan from the space balls,” Musk says onstage in front of his Fremont, California, facility. There, the first buyers are already waiting to be allowed to leave the farm with the first production models. Shortly before launch, Tesla raised the price of the S Plaid from the planned $ 130,000 to $ 140,000.
In the movie, Darth Vader's spaceship switches to Incredible Speed, absurd speed, to catch up with the heroic rebels. But they escape, accelerating to Plaid-speed: so fast that the starry sky in front of their spaceship looks like a "plaid" tartan pattern known from kilts.
Musk goes back to the roots of Tesla with his pop culture nods: the new S Plaid with 1,020 hp. shows a record acceleration of less than two seconds from zero to one hundred kilometers per hour at a Tesla top speed of 320 kilometers per hour.
As Elon Musk explained during the presentation, in order to improve the torque characteristics of electric motors, it was necessary to develop a technology for coating the copper winding of the rotor with carbon fiber. Technically, this task was not the easiest one, since both materials have different coefficients of thermal expansion, so the insulation must have a strong pre-tension. To produce such electric motors, Tesla was forced to develop new equipment used to coat the rotor windings.
At the level of traction batteries, improvements in the Tesla Model S Plaid are also provided, but this was not given due attention at the presentation. The drag coefficient of the body has been reduced to 0.208, the lowest among a production vehicle. Better aerodynamics both save battery life and achieve more impressive speed performance.
The surprise of the presentation was a modified heat pump, which is used for more efficient redistribution of heat energy. Tesla's powerplant generates heat during operation, it can be used to heat the passenger compartment and traction battery in cold weather. The improved heat pump in the Tesla Model S Plaid increases the range by 30% in winter, as well as reduces energy costs for heating the passenger compartment by 50%. The enlarged radiator of the cooling system, among other things, improves the performance of consecutive runs against the clock, since the power plant will cool faster and not lose efficiency.
High-speed charging has also been improved, now the Tesla Model S is capable of replenishing 300 km of energy in fifteen minutes. Shortly before the start of deliveries, the company canceled the release of the more expensive version of the Plaid + with an increased range, and now the electric car of this series can only be purchased in the version with batteries, which provides a range of 624 km without recharging. Tesla will be able to produce 1,000 Model S Plaid cars a week in the next quarter, while production volumes are limited to a few hundred units per week.
A week before the Fremont event, Jerome Gillen, one of Tesla's top managers, left the company.
"This is a big, unexpected loss," said Pierre Ferrague, an analyst at New Street Research after Guillen left Bloomberg. The Frenchman made a career in the Daimler Trucks division and rose to head of innovation under Dieter Zetsche when he switched to the launch of a California electric vehicle in the fall of 2010. Tesla just bought the Fremont plant from Toyota to start mass production of the first Model S in two years.
Elon Musk sees himself far ahead of the competition with the S Plaid, claiming that his car is faster than any Porsche and safer than any Volvo. Why are we building this ultra-fast car? Musk asks rhetorically. “For the future of sustainable energy, it is important to show that the electric car is the best car.”