Tesla CEO Elon Musk can be a bit ambitious with timelines. And it appears that the arrival of an extensively redesigned Model S is no exception.
Musk tweeted Saturday that deliveries of the revamped electric sedan will start June 10—reflecting a one-week delay over a planned event and rollout for June 3—as he said it “needs one more week of tweak.”
Model S Plaid delivery pushed to June 10. Needs one more week of tweak.
This car feels like a spaceship. Words cannot describe the limbic resonance.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 29, 2021
The 2021 Tesla Model S will have the most comprehensive set of changes in nine years, and it’s expected to effectively amount to a complete reengineering of the car.
Under the revised lineup, the “base” Tesla Model S Long Range offers a 0-60 mph time of just 3.1 seconds, a top speed of 155 mph, and an estimated EPA range of 412 miles. The Tesla Model S Plaid is listed as having a tri-motor layout, and it replaces the Model S Performance, with a 200-mph top speed and 2.0-second 0-60 mph time (yes, Tesla is teasing 1.99 seconds, so get your test equipment ready) and estimated 390-mile range.
2021 Tesla Model S Plaid+
A top-performance version called the Model S Plaid+, was due to join the lineup later in the year, with even quicker acceleration and an elevated level of dynamic performance; but Tesla recently indicated that model might be delayed to mid-2022. It likely also previews what’s to be offered in the next-generation Roadster—perhaps supplemented in some trick way with rocket tech.
Tesla reported that the Model S and Model X are built around a battery pack that’s fully redesigned but will continue to use the 18650 (18 mm diameter by 65 mm length) cylindrical cell form factor that Tesla has used all along in these models.
Tesla surprised fans with the release of photos, some specs, and a significant amount of information on the revamped sedan in January. At that time, Musk reported that a production ramp of the new model was due to happen in January with first deliveries due potentially in February. But in early April Tesla reported that no deliveries had yet been made and the production ramp was expected soon and first deliveries within weeks.
2021 Tesla Model S
The early photos teased for Model S—likewise for the revamped Model X gullwing crossover—show an aircraft-style yoke in place of a steering wheel, and confirmed a completely new interface. Musk later clarified that it’s a detail pending U.S. approval. Automakers have been putting such yokes on concept cars for decades, in hopes the more easily stowable design might be adopted in an assisted-driving future but regulators want steering wheels for safety reasons.
That led some to speculate that the Model S Tesla was showing as up for order wasn’t true to production in some other respects. Although that might be the case, given the rollout event within days, we suspect there might be another surprise or two Tesla hasn’t yet told us about.