Elon Musk unveiled Tesla Inc.’s newest vehicle, the Model S Plaid, as a halo proving the superiority of electric vehicles at an event to mark the start of customer deliveries.
“Why make this really fast car insanely fast?” the CEO asked rhetorically at the Tesla plant in Fremont, California. “There is something that is very important for the future of sustainable energy, which is that we have to show that the electric car is the best car.”
The new flagship is likely to bring about a gradual increase in Tesla’s shipments, but the high-end S and X models remain a niche business compared to its mass-produced 3 and Y vehicles, Dan Levy, a neutral analyst at Credit Suisse, said in a policy note on Friday.
“While the start of Plaid shipments is causing some hype on the product front, we believe the Plaid remains secondary to Tesla’s Model 3 / Y aspirations.”
Tesla shares fell 1% to $ 604.09 as of 9:50 am in New York City. They were down 14% by Thursday’s close, well behind the 13% gain in the S&P 500.
Tesla’s eightfold rise in stock last year made the company the world’s most valuable auto maker and helped boost investor interest in the wider EV segment. But the market leader for electric vehicles had a disappointing start to this year.
At the Plaid debut late Thursday night, Musk attempted to showcase Tesla’s engineering prowess as his company’s lineup faces competition from battery-powered vehicles including Ford Motor Co., Mustang Mach-E and Porsche Taycan.
He touted the sleek sedan as capable of going from zero to 60 mph in less than 2 seconds, though that time does not include an initial rollback, according to the company’s website. The car offers about 390 miles of range, has a top speed of 200 mph and costs $ 129,990 in the US.
“This is what I call physics-based engineering,” Musk said in a black leather jacket with a plaid logo on the back.
The Model S was Tesla’s revolutionary sedan, the first deliveries of which began in 2012. While the older S and X models are inferior to the newer and cheaper 3 and Y, their higher prices make an important contribution to the company’s profitability. The first 25 Plaid vehicles were handed over to buyers on Thursday, and Musk said he expects the company to deliver 1,000 vehicles a week by next quarter.
During a less than 30-minute presentation, Musk talked about improvements, including a new battery, carbon-coated rotors and a three-motor drivetrain. The name Plaid is a reference to the high-speed space travel scene from the 1987 comedy film Space Balls.
Exterior design changes have made the car more aerodynamic. Internally, the front seats are pushed forward to provide more space for rear passengers, which are now equipped with a second touchscreen.
Musk compared the in-car entertainment system to the performance of the Sony PlayStation 5 and said its 22-speaker sound system gives it a home theater feel.
“If you think about where the future of the car is, often in autopilot or autonomous driving mode, then entertainment will become more and more important,” he said. “You will want to watch movies, play games, use the Internet.”
The event lacked “another” surprise for other vehicles in Tesla’s product line, such as the Semi or Cybertruck. Musk also did not provide any updates on the new battery cells that the company is developing in-house, and did not discuss the decision to ditch the longer-range version of the Plaid + Model S.