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In a nutshell: At Tesla's recent Battery Day event, CEO Elon Musk made several important announcements regarding future battery technologies and manufacturing techniques for its EVs. He also revealed specs of the upcoming Model S 'Plaid,' the new tri-motor powertrain for Tesla's 4-door saloon that's been undergoing testing for the past several months and is now available to order. While this variant's price tag and delivery schedule will require some very deep pockets and patience, Elon also shared that a low-cost, high-volume compact Tesla EV with a $25,000 price tag will be ready in about three years.
Tesla's drive-in cinema-like Battery Day event saw the company's shareholders honk their horns whenever Elon Musk made a ground-breaking or an otherwise exciting announcement. The CEO touched on several tech advancements for the company, including the development of in-house tabless battery cells that'll offer more power and range, setting up a new cathode plant to reduce supply chain costs as well as measures to eliminate cobalt usage in its batteries.
For owners and fans of the Model S, Musk also shared details of the new 'Plaid' powertrain that blitzed the Laguna Seca racetrack last year, lapping it in 1:36.555. Tesla has since been refining the prototype that now does it six seconds quicker with a time of just 1:30.3.
The Model S 'Plaid' variant sits on top of the 'Ludicrous' version and posts some even crazier numbers, according to Tesla, both in terms of performance and range. It'll apparently do 0-60 mph in under 2 seconds, reach a top speed of 200 mph and will do a sub-9 second quarter-mile while it's at it. With a light foot, it'll do up to 520 miles on a single charge, an increase of nearly 120 miles over the current long-range model.
As expected, the new 1,100 hp / 820 kW tri-motor powertrain, alongside other chassis and battery improvements, doesn't come cheap. The 'Plaid' version, currently available to order on Tesla's website, costs almost twice as much at $140,000 versus $75,000 for the dual-motor long-range version, excluding potential incentives/savings. Customers, however, will have to wait until late 2021 to receive their hypercar-beating family saloon.
With plans to reduce supply chain costs through in-house batteries and improved manufacturing techniques, Musk predicted that future Tesla batteries would be fully recyclable and won't require lithium mining. This would also make way for a cheaper $25,000 compact EV that Musk says would be capable of driving fully autonomously when it arrives in around three years.
Although Tesla's manufacturing challenges are far from over, Musk plans to eventually produce 20 million Teslas annually with the goal of becoming "the best at manufacturing of any company on Earth."