Tesla is preparing to release an even quicker version of the Model S, and the technology used to build it will trickle down into some of the firm’s other cars. The firm released a video of a prototype testing the upgrade at Laguna Seca, where it recorded a time of 1:36, and its next step is beating the Porsche Taycan’s time around Germany’s Nurburgring track. In the meantime, Tesla offered a little bit more insight into what lies beneath its electric super-sedan’s skin.
The upgrade is called Plaid, and it’s something Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been thinking about since at least 2015, when he mentioned a performance level above Tesla’s current Ludicrous mode. At the time, Musk referred to it as “Maximum Plaid,” a reference to the 1987 sci-fi comedy Spaceballs.
Following the release of the video, Musk confirmed further details on Twitter. He said the Plaid option is “about a year away” and will be offered on the Model X and the upcoming second-generation Roadster, in addition to the Model S. The upgrade won’t be available on the Model 3 or the upcoming Model Y, Musk added. He also said the Plaid upgrade would cost more than Tesla’s current offerings, but less than competitors. That likely refers to the aforementioned Porsche Taycan, which is expected to start at over $150,000 in Turbo trim — the least-expensive option available at launch.
It’s going to be hard for Tesla to improve on the current Ludicrous mode. A Model S equipped with this high-performance option can do zero to 60 mph in 2.4 seconds, according to Tesla. That makes it the quickest-accelerating four-door car you can buy. But a Model S Plaid could be even quicker. When asked on Twitter if Tesla would add a third motor on top of the two (one for each axle) that already power the Model S, Musk replied in the affirmative. He later revealed the powertrain will be built around a bigger battery pack than the 100-kilowatt-hour (kWh) unit currently found in the range-topping S. The extra capacity will make boost performance, but it could also deliver considerably more range in a different application.
The hardware upgrades will be complemented by a full range of chassis modifications, including beefier brakes to keep the extra power in check, suspension modifications, and aerodynamic tweaks. Tesla has previously upgraded its cars via its innovative over-the-air software updating system, but the Plaid will be a true standalone model.
Musk is always eager to talk Tesla on Twitter, so we expect to learn more about the Model S Plaid in the coming months. Sales will begin in 2020, like via an online reservation system.
Edited on November 11, 2018: Added the latest information about the Tesla model S Plaid.
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