The tri-motor Tesla Model S is already in production and first deliveries of what Elon Musk hails as the “fastest accelerating car” ever produced will commence in February.
The news came shortly after the EV maker revealed images of the new Model S refresh ahead of its fourth-quarter 2020 earnings call this morning (Australian time), and updated its order page with a renamed Plaid Plus tri-motor offering and a lower specced plain Plaid version.
In December the Californian EV maker announced it was temporarily closing its Model S and Model X assembly lines, firing up speculation about whether a refresh for either model was on the cards.
Now the rumours are confirmed – both the Model S and Model X are receiving refreshes, with new images on Teslas’ website reflecting the changes (although in Australia the EV maker notes it is the US model shown, indicating it will not be available locally until 2022).
The Model S was Tesla’s first volume production electric vehicle and has not seen a change in design since it was first released in 2012, and the upper-range Plaid’s acceleration will be faster than Car and Driver’s record 2.1 seconds for the 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder.
“It will be the fastest production car ever, (the first) that is able to go from zero to 60 miles an hour in under two seconds,” Musk said. “This is a luxury sedan, that is able to go zero to 60 in less than two seconds, and will have the ability to seat up to seven people with the third row seats. So, pretty nuts.”
But it will not come cheap – at $A189,990 for the Plaid Plus it is second only to the yet-to-be released Roadster in terms of price, whereas the Plaid will now cost just $A174,990 (all before on-roads).
The images included in Tesla’s fourth-quarter earnings report published on Wednesday (US time) reveal a completely new look for its flagship electric sedan.
Exterior updates are subtle – such as a more angular nose and “chrome delete” black handles and accents that also sport the Model 3 refresh – but it’s inside the Model S that the changes are most striking.
A new half-moon steering wheel sits next to a completely redesigned dash which includes a landscape tablet as opposed to the previous inset portrait touchscreen.
The semi-circular wheel allows better visibility of the smaller screen above, and a timberline accent in the dash echoes the minimalist Model 3 and Model Y design.
In the back row, there is now also a second infotainment screen, so rear passengers can enjoy a movie on the road without disturbing front row occupants.
In addition to the new exterior and interior design are also a new powertrain including new battery modules and packs which Tesla says have been “fully redesigned”, and new drive units.
Presumably in reference to the new drive units, Tesla has added notes to its Model S order page including carbon-sleeved rotors and torque vectoring – the latter being a feature also highlighted by Daimler on Friday for its flagship electric sedan, the EQS.
Detailed updates provided by Tesla to The Driven are as follows:
Range and Performance:
- New Dual and Tri Motor powertrain options with permanent magnet motors
- New battery architecture with improved thermal performance
- Ability to perform consistent, back-to-back quarter mile runs
- Heat pump
Audio and Media
- Premium 22-speaker audio with active noise cancelling
- 17” centre display, 12.3” driver’s display, and 8” second row display
- Gaming computer with 10 teraflops of processing power
- Heated seats for every passenger, heated steering and heated windshield
- Ventilated front seating
- Tri-zone Airwave cabin conditioning
- HEPA filtration
- Second row stowable centre armrest with integrated storage and wireless charging
- Wireless and USB-C fast charging for every passenger
- Phone Key
- Stalkless steering column with yoke
- Door pockets and coat hooks
- New wheels + tyres for improved performance, handling, efficiency and comfort
- Wider Model S body and chassis for even better handling
Game on, Mercedes-Benz.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.