Tesla's Model S Plaid livestream gives Elon Musk a chance to reshape the EV narrative

Tesla's most powerful car in production makes its big debut this evening, with the Model S Plaid getting a coming out party at the automaker's California factory. While you needed to have put down six-figures in order to be among the first to own the achingly-fast all-electric sedan, Tesla will be streaming the delivery event tonight for those feeling left out.

It's an opportunity for the automaker to build up some Model S hype again, after a few months of rival car companies trying to steal the EV's thunder. Porsche's Taycan, Audi's e-tron GT, and upstart alternatives from Lucid Motors and more have all promised an alternative amid the luxury electric sedan segment.

Tesla's pitch, though, is raw performance. The Model S Plaid has three motors for a combined 1,020 horsepower, the automaker says, and the result is 0-60 mph in a mere 1.99 seconds. That's not just fast for an electric vehicle, that's incredibly fast, period. Indeed it makes the Model S Plaid capable of shaming hypercars with its straight line speed.

Come the corners, meanwhile, and there's torque vectoring to help keep things tidy. That uses the electric motors' ability to individually adjust power to the rear wheels, and thus tightening up the curves.

It's a whole lot of performance for what's actually a fairly reasonable price tag of $129,990, in the grand scheme of things. Of course, it also arrives as Elon Musk upends the Tesla roadmap again, and prepares for production of two pivotal cars.

The Tesla Model S Plaid+ was to pair the performance of the "regular" Plaid EV with considerably longer range. That, though, was unceremoniously dropped off the order form last week, with Musk arguing that the speed that the Plaid offers meant the Plaid+ wasn't necessary.

Of course, the tri-motor drivetrain isn't just intended for this fastest-ever Model S: it, along with a new battery type which had been expected to debut in the Model S Plaid+, are earmarked for the new Tesla Roadster. Quite where that leaves the 2+2 coupe – which the automaker has promised will do 0-60 mph in 1.9 seconds and yet still have 620 miles of range – remains to be seen. Reservations are still open, but production is yet to start,

The Cybertruck, meanwhile, faces a very different electric pickup segment as to when it was announced in late 2019. Since then, Rivian has ramped up to the point where its R1T is almost ready to reach buyers, while Ford has unveiled its own F-150 Lightning, an all-electric version of its perennial best-seller. Agan, though Tesla is still taking Cybertruck preorders, it remains unknown as to how many of those will convert to full orders.

If there's one thing that's become clear over Tesla's time in the EV spotlight, though, it's that the company often performs best when it's under untold degrees of pressure. Tonight's Model S Plaid delivery event is likely to be good evidence of that, with no shortage of hype and enthusiasm as Musk hands over the first examples to buyers. There's also the possibility of new details about the Roadster, Cybertruck, and more.

You can watch the Tesla event from 7pm PDT / 10pm EDT tonight, June 10.