Tesla launches 1.99s Model S Plaid with new motor tech, faster charging

Tesla has officially launched the new Model S Plaid at a delivery event in Fremont Thursday night and Elon Musk emphasized Tesla’s new electric motor technology, faster charging, and a ton of new entertainment features.

While the automaker had already unveiled the new version of the Model S in January, it didn’t go into details about many of the changes that they brought to the electric sedan.

Tesla Model S Plaid

The CEO commented during the presentation:

“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. 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.”

Here’s the power curve of the new Model S Plaid: It maintains over 1,000HP all the way up to 200mph. As you can see, it is a massive improvement over not only the original Model S from 2012 but over the more recent Model S Performance from 2019, which was already beating supercars on the race track.

Musk also confirmed that Tesla managed to achieve the lowest drag coefficient for any production car with a 0.208

One of the biggest surprises of the presentation was the new heat pump and thermal system in the new Model S.

Tesla is claiming 0-60 mph in 1.99 seconds, quarter-mile in 9.23 seconds, and a 200 mph top speed, though those specs were already known before the event.

Musk talked about bringing the car back to the Nürburgring race track to test it again.

The CEO also briefly mentioned the fast-charging capacity of the new Model S at 187 miles of range in 15 minutes.

“We’ve made huge improvements from the original car,” Musk said.

“Something we’re really proud of is the new carbon-sleeved rotors for the motor,” he said. “This is the first time that there’s – to the best of our knowledge – been a production electric motor that had a carbon overwrap rotor.”

The design is where the rotor is wound tightly in carbon fiber strands to keep it together at high rpm.

“This is a super-hard thing to do because carbon and copper have very different rates of thermal expansion,” Musk said. “In order to do a carbon overwrap rotor, you’ve got to wind it at extremely high tension, it’s a very hard thing to do. We actually had to design the machine that makes the rotor, no such machine existed before. But it also means that we can make the electromagnetic field super-efficient and have a tight gap even at super-high rpm.”

It’s necessary because, as Musk reminded the Fremont faithful, the motor uses just one gear all the way up to 200 mph.

“RPM is so crazy that just the centrifugal force wants to expand the rotor. So the carbon overwrap actually holds the rotor together. It’s madness.”

Motor speeds are up to 20,000 rpm, “maybe a little more,” Musk said.

Tesla’s new v3 Supercharger are limited to 250 kW, but Musk hinted at ramping up to “280 kW, 300 kW, and eventually 350 kW” without specifying a timeline.

Musk only briefly discussed the yoke steering wheel – only saying that it is great for visibility and not mentioning that a normal round version would be available.

One of the biggest new details about the interior revealed during the event is that Tesla managed to squeeze some more space for the second row:

During the presentation, Musk also touted the gaming performance of the new Model S.

We already reported that Tesla is using the new AMD RDNA 2 GPU with the same computing performance as a Playstation 5.

Tesla showed a brief demo of the video game Cyberpunk running on Tesla’s new entertainment system.

Here’s the Tesla Model S Plaid presentation in full:

The Model S Plaid starts at $130,000 after a recent $10,000 price increase this week and a cheaper $80,000 version without the tri-motor powertrain but a longer 412 miles (versus 390 miles) is also available.

Summary of Technical Advances

  • An 0.208 coefficient of drag “with the wheels rolling,” Musk pointed out.
  • The Plaid gets “the latest and greatest heat pump,” offering “30% better cold-weather range and requires 50% less energy.”
  • The radiator is twice as big so, Musk said, “You’ll be able to actually do back-to-back zero to 60s, go on the track, just haul ass.”
  • Increasingly higher charging speeds are coming at the 25,000 Tesla Superchargers worldwide, “…250 kilowatts, to 280, 300, 350,” Musk promised.
  • Musk also promised the “lowest overall probability of injuries of any car tested,” showing as proof of this a bar graph on which the top five cars were Teslas.
  • Inside the new Plaid, that famous 17-inch screen goes from a vertical to horizontal orientation, and is raised up on the dash. “It’s easier to watch movies and that kind of thing in landscape,” Musk said.
  • The yoke steering wheel is still there and looks like it will be on production Plaids. “Once you try it, you’ll think it’s great.”
  • The stalks sticking out from the steering column have been eliminated. The screen and wheel-mounted buttons take over those functions previously done with the stalks.
  • The rear seat is more reclined and back-seat passengers have a centrally mounted screen that allows them to “control everything.” There are dual inductive chargers in back (and front), there’s a 36-watt USB C plug, and Bluetooth will allow multiple wireless activities simultaneously.
  • The 17-inch main touchscreen is improved. “It feels like a movie theater, the sound is incredible, it’s like a home theater experience. So if you’re sitting somewhere, waiting at a supercharger, you just catch up on whatever your favorite Netflix show, or iTunes, whatever the case may be. And, of course, you can also play video games in front or rear seats. Basically, the system feeds all three screens.”
  • It has tri-zone HVAC. “Similar to the Model 3, instead of having air vents we use intersecting columns of air. We just vary the speed of the air. So there’s no air vents that you can see, you can just touch the screen and move the screen around and it’ll just move the air wherever you want it.”
  • “We have an all-new sound system designed by Tesla Audio, with acoustic glass throughout the car so the car is very quiet when going down the highway. Even at very high speeds, like 100 miles an hour, (it’s) still quiet.”
  • The new user interface works with your calendar. “You just get in the car and swipe down from navigate,” Musk said. “You don’t have to enter anything, the car will automatically figure out if you want to go to home, to work, or whatever’s on your calendar. It’ll default to calendar priority. So if you’re at home, and it’s a weekday, you just swipe down and it automatically navigates to work and checks traffic to give you an optimal route.”
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