Overnight invites to the Model S refresh event started going out in the US. Along with that, we also got a new tweet from Elon Musk, who announced the most expensive Plaid+ version of the Model S will not be made.
Musk said there is no need, as the Plaid is just so good. That Model S Plaid had largely the same specs with a tri-motor drivetrain, a 0-100km time of 2.1s (0-60mph 1.9s), both with the same 322km/h top speed. While the Plaid+ had listed <1.9s 0-60mph time, how much less was still a mystery and the difference between it and the upcoming 2022 Roadster, was questionable.
There was a significant delta between the price of the two vehicles, with the Plaid priced at A$174,990 and Plaid+ was slated to cost $20k more at $199,990.
One very important difference was the range. The Plaid+ was slated to get a massive 837km of range, vs the Plaid with just 628km. From battery day, we understood this additional range to be a result of Tesla’s new 4680 battery tech, going in the Plaid+ version. Not the Plaid+ won’t happen, this raises some very interesting questions like, is the 4680 battery tech arriving way ahead of schedule?
The 4680 battery size had a number of improvements, not just to it’s chemistry, but to the tabless design (so production could occur faster, meaning you can make more of them and reducing the per unit cost. Tesla was also working on a dry battery electrode, but I expect that development will be a little time off.
Along with the change in size from 2170, the 4680 batteries were also planned to be moved into an integrated design, removing the case around the battery modules, and making the batteries structural. It’s possible this, along with single piece castings for the front and rear are ready to go for the Plaid and will be in the cars at the Model S refresh event this week.
Kato Road is Tesla’s test or pilot battery facility for 4680 battery cells. They have been making thousands of these, and we’ve often wondered where they’re all going, especially given the months of delays for the Model S and X refresh. I think we now have our answer. The 4680 design is also being implemented at Tesla’s new factories, the Gigafactories in Berlin and Texas.
Another big outstanding question is what happens to that rear wing that was spotted on the refreshed Model S recently. Is that part of an upcoming ‘track pack’ option for the Model S Plaid, or was that Tesla confirming with every trick in the book, the Model S Plaid+ just wasn’t that much faster than the Plaid, leading to today’s decision.
In Australia, the earliest you can get a Model S Plaid is the end of 2022.