New Tesla Model S?: Prototype, Precursor, or Plaid? On the 22nd of June 2012, Tesla first introduced their Model S, a luxury, high performance sedan with an all-electric powertrain, consisting of a front and rear electric 100 kWh motor producing 615 kW collectively and being capable of 405 miles of range (on the higher end model, although this varies with the power of the battery installed).Therefore, even with the exponential rate at which improvements have been made in terms of the capabilities of electric vehicles, the Tesla Model S, despite being introduced onto the market 8 years ago, is still more than able to contend with the latest competition that has arisen to rival it. Nevertheless, the Tesla Model S has been unconventional in how, in its 8 year existence, it has only received a handful of major performance updates, not yet another superior version intended to surpass it and make any significant changes to design or its powertrain.
Therefore, it would seem appropriate that Tesla would be anxious to release another Model S soon, as sales have fallen in the past 2 years, in order to conserve their presence on the luxury vehicle market that is now threatened by Mercedes and other manufacturers interested in selling more luxury, performance vehicles. In September 2019, CEO Elon Musk announced the Model S Plaid, equipped with two rear motors instead of one, giving it three motors in total. This new version would be capable of 200mph, 512 miles of range, and would be able to accelerate to 60 mph from 0 mph in under 2 seconds, with a sizeable price tag at £129,990.
Development of the Tesla Model S was temporarily stagnated when Tesla elected to focus the majority of its production line and manufacturing ability and resources on the Tesla Model 3, which has seen huge success in the electric vehicle market. Undoubtedly, the Covid 19 pandemic will also be responsible for some of the delays taking into account how it has disrupted the global automotive industry. However, as of late, Tesla have been hinting at attempts to reinvigorate Model X and Model S sales, and this is not by any means unfounded speculation.
Tesla announced recently that the Model S Plaid required some “important changes”,potentially indicating that its introduction is being delayed even further. What’s more,Tesla informed employees that the Model X and Model S production lines in their Fremont factory would be halted for an extended period of 18 days, from the 24th of December to the 11th of January, shortly after increasing not only the expected delivery times but also the cost of Model X and Model S vehicles being transported to the European market.
Perhaps even more interesting is the footage captured by the youtube channel Kilowatts of a Tesla Model S roaming the streets around the Tesla headquarters at Palo Alto in California near the start of the month.The channel reported, and the images captured evidently suggest that this particular Tesla Model S diverged in a number of ways superficially from the standard Model S we have become accustomed to. For one, the vehicle boasted a noticeably wider body, alongside a new diffuser at the rear and different headlamps also. More tenuous claims state that the ground clearance had been reduced and the wheels did not resemble the Arachnid ones on the original Model S. Finally, this was a manufacturer vehicle and no effort was meant to obscure its features with camouflage.
A dense cloud of speculation surrounds this, but it is entirely possible that Tesla have developed a “refreshed” version of the Model S, which would explain the extended holiday shutdown of production lines and the increase in price and delivery time. If this is an improved variant of the Model S, then the lack of camouflage may convey that it will be available very soon on the global market. There is some conjecture that this vehicle may have even been the Plaid, or at least a prototype. However, none of this is concrete, and it is possible that this particular Model S has not been revolutionised in any significant way in terms of interior design and power, and is merely an “upgrade”, as is Tesla’s custom.
So while the claim that this vehicle may have provided an unintended first glimpse at the Plaid is unlikely, due to the absence of a spoiler, the series of events preceding, make the prospect of a Model S and perhaps even a Model X refresh all the more feasible. Soon, maybe the aging Model S and Model X will be made obsolete and phased out completely by these postulated “refreshes”, the former maybe being what was seen at Palo Alto.
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