Tesla Model S.
  • Tesla is set to deliver the first examples of its Model S Plaid electric car to customers on Thursday.
  • 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 0-100 kph time, and a $130,000 (R1.76 million) price tag.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

A few Tesla customers are about to get the keys to the new Model S Plaid sedan. The automaker is set to deliver the first few 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 100 kilometres-per-hour in about two seconds, according to the company.

A Model S Plaid starts at about $130,000 (R1.76 million). When optioned to the max, including Tesla's claimed "full self-driving" feature, the bill comes out to roughly $142,000 (R1.93 million). 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 335 kilometres on a full charge, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. A present-day Model S is advertised with a maximum 603-kilometre range. The Plaid version delivers 563 kilometres, 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 live:

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