Tesla delivers the first examples of its $130,000 ‘tri-motor’ Model S Plaid electric sedan

Tesla Model S
Model S. Tesla
  • Tesla delivered the first examples of its Model S Plaid electric car to customers on Thursday night.
  • The Plaid is the most significant update to the carmaker’s first original production vehicle.
  • This new version of the car features three motors, a two-second 0-60 mph time, and a $130,000 price tag.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A few Tesla customers got the keys to the new Model S Plaid sedan as the automaker delivered the first examples of the refreshed electric car Thursday night.

The Plaid is the latest iteration of the nine-year-old luxury sedan. Tesla added a third motor to the car’s drivetrain, helping it scoot from zero to 60 miles-per-hour in about two seconds, according to the company.

“There is something that’s quite important to the future of sustainable energy,” CEO Elon Musk said at the event, We’ve got to show that an electric car is the best car – hands down.”

“They can be the fastest cars, the safest cars. They can be the most kickass cars in every way,” Musk added.

A Model S Plaid starts at about $130,000. When optioned to the max, including Tesla’s claimed “full self-driving” feature, the bill comes out to roughly $142,000. Tesla is known to frequently update its pricing, so those numbers may change.

The Model S first went on sale in the US in June 2012. It was Tesla’s first original production vehicle, emerging after the much-loved original Roadster hit the streets four years prior. Since then, the car has evolved only gradually, with the automaker quietly finessing its design and periodically updating the underlying technology to improve performance and battery range.

“The Model S has not been changing a lot in terms of looks over the past almost decade. I think Tesla has to offer consumers something more,” said Jessica Caldwell, executive director at Edmunds told Reuters ahead of the Thursday night delivery event.

Early versions of the Model S with a since-discontinued 60 kWh battery pack achieved about 335km on a full charge, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. A present-day Model S Long Range is advertised with a maximum 652km range. The Plaid version delivers 390, the company says.

The electric-car market at large looks entirely different in 2021 than in the days of old. Tesla was the first automotive company to produce and sell a long-range luxury electric car. Its closest battery electric rival as of the late 2010s was the Nissan Leaf, a mass-produced hatchback that once was the best-selling electric vehicle in the world.

Tesla has since established a comfortable lead in that space, eclipsing legacy carmakers in terms of EV market share with the introduction of the Model 3 compact sedan and the Model Y crossover SUV.

But the competition is gaining momentum. There are 15 electric vehicles you can buy from Audi, Ford, Chevy, Kia, Hyundai, Porsche, MINI, Nissan, Jaguar, Polestar, Volvo, and Volkswagen today – and more are coming.

Watch the Model S Plaid delivery event here: