The Tesla Model S Plaid+ is now a victim of the worst kind of cancel culture. With its expected production just a year away, CEO Elon Musk has pulled the plug on the ultimate expression of the automaker's flagship saloon.
Not to be confused with the Tesla Model S Plaid (no "+" after Plaid), the Plaid+ was to be a saloon supercar with mind-melting speed and more range than you could shake a family vacation at. In numerical form, that translates to a quarter-mile time possibly below 9 seconds and 520 miles of range.
We probably should have guessed this was coming. In March, the production date was pushed back from late 2021 to mid 2022, and its starting price increased by $10,000 to $149,990. Then, just a couple of weeks ago, Plaid+ option became no longer selectable in Tesla's online design studio.
While we have to imagine there are a number of reasons for the change – supply of 4680 batteries or extra engineering costs for a relatively small amount of sales, for example – the only excuse offered by Musk in a tweet is that the "just so good."
The news comes just ahead of a Model S Plaid delivery event, which Musk refers to in the tweet preceding the cancellation news. That car will pack the tri-motor design the + version was to have, and still offer more performance than any sane person needs. According to Musk, it will offer a sub 2-second zero-to-sixty-miles-per-hour acceleration.
Recently, comedian and car collector Jay Leno, in a single pass, did a quarter-mile run in a pre-production version of the machine in a 9.247 seconds. Now, Tesla lists that performance metric as 9.23 seconds at 155 mph (249.5 kph).
The cancellation opens a small opportunity for Tesla competitors. With the range of the Model S Plaid given as "only" 390 miles – the Model S Long Range offers 412 miles – the Lucid Air may become the king of the range once production officially kicks off, with an estimated 517 miles of distance per full charge.
On the performance side of the equation, Lucid may also dominate. While the announced Air does the quarter-mile in a very quick 9.9 seconds, we've seen them testing a tri-motor version just a hundredth of a second slower than Tesla Plaid's claimed performance: 9.245 seconds at 157.26 mph.
And, though Musk may claim that the Tesla Model S Plaid is the quickest production car ever, we've just seen the freshly revealed Rimac Nevera turn an absolutely ridiculous 8.7-second quarter-mile on an unprepped surface with an auto journalist behind the wheel.
Tesla may, of course, be able to hold onto its electric-vehicle performance crown when it begins to produce it new Roadster, but with the capricious-seeming production decisions flowing from Musk's Twitter account, who's to now say that dream will ever come true?