Tesla's Model S Plaid will be 'the fastest production vehicle ever'

You can order it now, but will only get it at the end of 2021.

In between announcing it'll be making its own, super-efficient, environmentally-friendlier batteries using new manufacturing techniques, and that a major upgrade to AutoPilot will come before year-end, Tesla today also dropped some amazing numbers for the Model S Plaid, a car CEO Elon Musk says will be "the fastest production vehicle ever."

Musk says orders for the performance version of the Model S Plaid open today, but deliveries will only start at the end of next year. The Plaid S has a starting price of $139,490 (though Tesla estimates "incentives and gas savings of $5,500"), which is a substantial markup on the previous top-end Model S, which starts at $94,990, and only rivaled in the EV sector by the forthcoming Lucid Air Dream Edition, which starts at $169k.

By the numbers — According to Tesla, its new racetrack star can do 0-60 mph in less than two seconds, will do a quarter-mile in under nine seconds, has a top speed of 200 mph, more than 1,100 horsepower, and a range of over 520 miles.

In testing, the Model S Plaid managed a time of just over one and a half minutes (1:30.3 to be precise) at the Laguna Seca racetrack in Monterey County, California. That's a supercar-shaming time.

While nearly $140k (or, nearer $150k once you add the $8,000 optional AutoPilot and, perhaps, some non-standard wheels) is a big asking price for any car, we expect Tesla will generate a fair number of orders. It's already racked up over half a million pre-orders for its Cybertruck, after all, and that vehicle doesn't even properly exist yet.

The Model S Plaid is available for pre-order on Tesla's website.Tesla

The opposite of affordability — During the "Battery Day" event, Tesla also said it hopes its new battery technology will make it possible to create a $25,000 consumer car in the next three years. Of course, that's just the initial sales price, though. If Tesla's claims about its new batteries' capabilities are correct, the lifespan of the car will bring that price well below an equivalent internal-combustion vehicle in real terms.

While the Model S Plaid may be a great advertising tool and aspirational product for Tesla, it's the $25k car that's the real holy grail of motor manufacturing. Not only would it make Tesla competitive with affordable internal-combustion vehicles, but it would expedite the shift to zero-emissions cars that's essential if we're going to rein in climate change, which regardless of its other ambitions, is one of Tesla's core tenets.