Musk said the “gauntlet has been thrown down,” a likely reference to the announcement today from Lucid Motors that its forthcoming luxury electric sedan, the Lucid Air, would start at $77,400. That version of the Air would come with 480 horsepower and a range of 406 miles on a single charge. That’s about four miles more than the Model S Long Range Plus, which recently earned the US Environmental Protection Agency rating of 402 miles.
The gauntlet has been thrown down!
The prophecy will be fulfilled.
Model S price changes to $69,420 tonight!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 14, 2020
It’s a negligible difference, but Musk appears to be keeping score. Lucid Motors is run by Peter Rawlinson, the former lead engineer on the Model S, and Musk appears to be closely tracking his former employee’s various announcements. The day before Lucid Motors was set to unveil the Air, Musk huffed on Twitter that “Rawlinson didn’t design Model S” and appeared to downplay his rival’s accomplishments. For his part, Rawlinson has said his goal with the Lucid Air is to “surpass my last one, the Model S.”
Musk’s intention to slash the Model S price to $69,420 calls to mind other times the Tesla CEO’s juvenile sense of humor got the better of him. In 2018, he tweeted that he was planning on taking Tesla private at $420 a share, “funding secured.” Without rehashing the entire experience, which we documented in detail over the last year, Musk paid a steep price for that tweet, including his chairmanship of Tesla’s board and a $20 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The Model S has been languishing a bit at Tesla. The automaker has been delivering fewer Model S sedans as it shifts its focus to the more mass-market Model 3 and Model Y. Tesla delivered 15,200 units of both Model S and Model X last quarter — down from 17,400 during the same period last year and down from 27,660 vehicles (14,470 Model S and 13,190 Model X) back in the third quarter of 2018.
The Model S has also been dropping in price prior to Musk’s tweet. The Long Range Plus version went from $74,990 to just recently $71,990, according to Electrek. And the Performance trim level went from $94,990 to now $91,990.