Skip to main content

Tesla is working on an even more insane performance version of the Model S

Tesla Model S Fastest Lap at Laguna Seca

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.

Editors' Recommendations

Stephen Edelstein
Stephen is a freelance automotive journalist covering all things cars. He likes anything with four wheels, from classic cars…
Tesla’s Model 3 is reportedly heading for a redesign
A Tesla Model 3 electric car.

Tesla is currently working on a redesign of the Model 3 in a bid to help the automaker reduce production costs, a new report claims.

Codenamed “Highland,” the project to revamp the Model 3 would cut the complexity and number of components inside Tesla’s electric car, four people claiming to have knowledge of the matter told Reuters this week. Changes to the Model 3’s exterior and powertrain performance are also possible, the report said.

Read more
Tesla to fix window software on 1M of its U.S. cars
A 2021 Tesla Model S.

Tesla is sending out an over-the-air update to a million of its vehicles in the U.S. to fix faulty window software that could leave occupants with pinched fingers.

According to a document issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Tesla engineers discovered that the affected vehicles may not meet certain automatic window reversal system requirements. It said that in some cases, the window may exert more force before automatically retracting when sensing an obstruction such as a person’s fingers. The condition “may increase the risk of a pinching injury to the occupant,” the NHTSA’s document says.

Read more
2022 Rivian R1S first drive review: An EV SUV fit for an expedition or a drag race
2022 rivian r1s review

Rivian beat the likes of Ford, General Motors, and Tesla to market with an electric pickup truck, but now it’s time for act two.

The 2022 Rivian R1S shares most of its DNA with the Rivian R1T pickup released late last year, but in place of a bed, it has a three-row cabin with seating for seven. It retains the R1T’s distinctive styling, impressive off-road capability, and improbable acceleration, but in a package for drivers who need to carry people instead of stuff.

Read more