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Tesla plans to deliver Model S Plaid in June after months of delays

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Key Points
  • Elon Musk said Tesla will hold a "delivery event" for the Model S Plaid on June 3 at the company's factory in Fremont, California.
  • Customers expected Model S Plaid deliveries to begin early this year, after Musk said they were already in production in January on an earnings call.
  • Tesla surprised some investors when it revealed in a vehicle production and deliveries report that Model S and X production dropped to zero for the first quarter of 2021.

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Tesla Model S Plaid
Source: Tesla

Elon Musk said in a tweet on Thursday that Tesla will hold a "delivery event" at the company's Fremont, California, factory on June 3 for the long-delayed Model S Plaid.

Specifically, he wrote: "Tesla Model S Plaid delivery event June 3 at our California factory. Fastest production car ever 0 to 60mph in under 2 secs."

The Model S Plaid is an updated version of the company's flagship battery electric sedan, which has been in production since 2012.

Musk and Tesla first promoted and promised Plaid versions of the Model S, Model X SUV and Tesla Roadster in September 2019. At that time, the CEO told his tens of millions of Twitter followers that a Plaid powertrain was about one year away from production.

Tesla drew criticism when it revealed the interior of the Model S Plaid during an earnings update in January this year. The design includes a steering yoke option, in lieu of a round steering wheel. Steering yokes are more appropriate for the race track than everyday vehicle use, in part due to steering ratio and because average drivers need to frequently reposition their hands on the wheel.

During that quarterly earnings call, Musk said that the Model S Plaid was already in production. In February, he said on an episode of the popular podcast "The Joe Rogan Experience" that the Model S Plaid would begin shipping in February, and he talked up its wider wheel base and acceleration and called the car "uncomfortably fast."

Following those promises, Tesla revealed in its first-quarter vehicle production and deliveries report that it had not produced a single Model S or Model X during the first three months of the year.

The delays have frustrated Tesla loyalists but not driven them all away.

Barry Stuppler, a longtime Tesla owner who ordered his first Model S in 2014, spoke with CNBC about his long wait for the new version of the Model S.

He ordered a Model S Plaid in January 2021, with plans to give his older Model S to his son. Tesla's sales and delivery teams initially told him to expect to take delivery by the end of March.

The month approached, and without warning Tesla updated his estimated delivery date several times, telling him to expect the Model S Plaid to arrive as late as July. His son has been renting a vehicle in the meantime.

Stuppler said he loves his old Tesla Model S and never needing to get gas. At the same time, he acknowledges that Tesla is lucky to have exceedingly patient customers.

Stuppler runs a rare coins and precious metals wholesale business, Stuppler & Co., and said he has developed an appreciation for good value but also strong customer service. If the battery electric Mercedes-Benz EQS were already available, he said, he would have ordered one instead of the Tesla.

Tesla is facing increasing competition as other automakers get into the pure battery electric segment. Competition for the Model S Plaid today includes the Porsche Taycan and Audi E-tron and will include the forthcoming Lucid Air and Mercedes EQS, among others.

Tesla still has not said when deliveries of the Plaid version of its Model X SUV or reimagined Tesla Roadster will begin. Musk previously said those vehicles, but not the Model 3 and Y, would feature the Plaid powertrain.

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