The Tesla Model S is powered by a 760kW ‘Tri-Motor’ powertrain which has two motors at the rear axle and one at the front. Picture: SUPPLIED
The Tesla Model S is powered by a 760kW ‘Tri-Motor’ powertrain which has two motors at the rear axle and one at the front. Picture: SUPPLIED

Tesla has launched what it claims to be the world’s quickest accelerating production car.

On January 28, Tesla CEO Elon Musk Tweeted that the electric Tesla Plaid+ Model S is the first production car ever to achieve 0-60mph (96km/h) in less than two seconds.

The high performance Plaid+ version of the newly updated Model S is powered by a 760kW “Tri-Motor” powertrain, which has two motors at the rear axle and one at the front, and is capable of torque vectoring. This gives the four-door family sedan the ability to silently whisk to 96km/h in just 1.99 seconds, quicker than any fire-spitting petrol supercar.

The Model S can also deliver an estimated range of 627km, according to Tesla.

The Model X SUV, also refreshed for 2021, has the same powertrain and is claimed to hit 96km/h in 2.5 seconds, achieving up to 550km on a charge.

A notable new feature is the square steering wheel which is styled like an aeroplane yoke, and reminiscent of the wheel in KITT of Knight Rider television show fame. There are no stalks visible on the steering column, meaning the indicators will likely be operated by wheel-mounted buttons.

A notable new feature is the square steering wheel which is styled like an aeroplane yoke. Picture: SUPPLIED
A notable new feature is the square steering wheel which is styled like an aeroplane yoke. Picture: SUPPLIED

There is still no word on whether Tesla will start selling cars in SA, following a 2018 tweet by Musk, who was born and raised in Pretoria, that the electric vehicle (EV) company could open its first store here in 2019.

In a follow-up tweet in August 2019, Musk said he would love to bring Tesla to SA but import duties are extremely high. In comparison to several other countries that incentivise EV sales with lower duties, SA imposes a 25% import on electric vehicles compared to 18% for combustion-engined cars.

As a result, EVs are very expensive in SA, and combined with the local electric charging infrastructure being less widespread than in other countries, there is very low market demand for battery-powered vehicles. Only 472 new EVs have been sold here in the past five years, accounting for just 0.03% of passenger car sales.

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