Ultrafast Tesla "Plaid" Models Coming In 2020

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Automotive Editor

Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

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, Automotive Editor - September 13, 2019

The battle for the best electric-vehicle lap time around the fabled Nurburgring has officially begun. After Porsche took its new Taycan to the 12.9-mile course in Germany, Tesla announced that it too would be attempting a quick lap time with a Model S. Before it does that, Tesla took one of its large sedans to Laguna Seca Raceway in California and claims to have snagged the track’s sedan lap record. But it was done in a prototype with its upcoming “Plaid” powertrain.

Before we get to Tesla’s supposed record lap time, here are the few things we know about the automaker’s upcoming Plaid powertrain. So far, Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, took to Twitter to state that Plaid would sit above Ludicrous in the hierarchy of performance. “The only thing beyond Ludicrous is Plaid,” he tweeted.

Musk then provided some information on which EVs would have the Plaid powertrain as an option. “To be clear, Plaid powertrain is about a year away from production & applies to S, X & Roadster, but not 3 or Y.” He put out some ambiguous pricing information out in the same tweet, claiming that Plaid would “cost more than our current offerings, but less than competitors.”


This isn’t the first time Musk has talked about a Plaid powertrain. Motor Authority claims that the CEO first referred to the high-performance layout back in 2015. Back then, it was called Maximum Plaid, which is a reference to the 1987 film "Spaceballs." The three-motor Plaid layout was also announced with the introduction of the Roadster, but this is the first time we’re hearing that it could appear on other vehicles.

That’s it. That’s all we know about Plaid. We don’t know anything concrete about performance or pricing. At the moment, the Model S Performance with Ludicrous mode costs $101,190 (including destination). The only competitor we can think of that Musk was probably referring to is the new Taycan. Pricing for the Taycan Turbo starts at $152,250, while the Taycan Turbo S costs $186,350.

In terms of performance, the Model S Performance can get to 60 mph in 2.4 seconds. The Taycan Turbo S trails behind with a 2.6-second time. Top speed is another win for Tesla, as it can hit 163 mph. The Taycan Turbo S is rated at 161 mph. Range for the Model S Performance is rated at 345 miles, with Porsche’s option capable of traveling up to 280 miles.

Getting back to Tesla’s claimed record. Tesla’s official Twitter account tweeted that the modified Model S had set a 1:36.555 lap time at the track. That bests the previous lap record holder, the Jaguar XE SV Project 8, which set a 1:37.54 lap time last year.

With testing at Laguna Seca out of the way, it looks like Tesla will set its sights on the Nurburgring. Porsche’s Taycan recently made headlines for lapping the circuit in 7:42, the quickest time ever for a production EV. With Musk confirming a high-performance Plaid powertrain and setting an unofficial lap record at Laguna Seca, it will be interesting to see what kind of time the Model S lays down.

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, Automotive Editor

Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

Follow On: Twitter

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