Tesla unveils refreshed Model S complete with an airplane-like steering wheel and an extra screen

Business Insider US
Tesla Model S interior.
  • Tesla on Wednesday announced that updated versions of the Model S and Model X would arrive later this year. 
  • The sedan and crossover now have landscape-oriented screens and U-shaped steering wheels. 
  • Tesla also added new sporty trim levels to each vehicle's lineup. 
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Rumours have been bubbling for months that the Tesla Model S - the company's longest-running model - would be getting a refresh. And on Wednesday, Elon Musk's electric automaker came through. 

Tesla teased a revamped Model S in its fourth-quarter 2020 earnings report on Wednesday, and updated its online configurator to reflect the forthcoming changes. Both the Model X and Model S are getting a full overhaul, with the new models entering production later this year, Tesla confirmed. 

"Over the past few weeks, we have been upgrading our Fremont Factory to launch the new Model S and Model X. These changes include a new powertrain (battery modules, battery packs, drive units), an entirely new interior, exterior updates and other improvements," the company said. "Production will resume in Q1 and ramp back to full capacity over time." 

Tesla has turned the sedan and SUV's portrait-oriented touchscreens 90 degrees, so they now look like the landscape displays found in the Model Y and Model 3. The Model S still retains a display behind the steering wheel, and gets an extra one for the rear passengers built into the center console. 

The most striking change is that Tesla ditched the normal round steering wheel found in the Model S and Model X in favor of a racing-inspired, squared-off wheel that doesn't appear to have any stalks. The turn signals appear to have migrated to haptic-touch buttons on the steering wheel itself.

The two models are getting new powertrain options as well. For the Model S, Tesla eliminated the Performance trim and replaced it with the Plaid version. A new Plaid Plus version becomes the top-tier Model S, sporting a 520-mile range, 1,100 horsepower, and supercar-like speed and acceleration.

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