Elon tweeted earlier in the evening a clear reference to the most powerful mode in Tesla’s upcoming Tesla Roadster: “The only thing beyond Ludicrous is Plaid.” In a followup tweet, he noted that the Plaid option would be available on the Model S and Model X as well as the Roadster.
When Marques Brownlee noted that we are going to need details, Elon replied “Soon.” Tantalizing.
We had to wait less than an hour for some of those juicy details. Elon announced a new powertrain that includes 3 motors instead of the 2 that have been standard on the Model S and Model X for some time. The next-generation Roadster has had a plan for 3 motors since it was unveiled as “One More Thing” at the Tesla Semi unveiling almost 2 years ago in November 2017.
For those of you who don’t know why Elon names performance modes things like “Ludicrous” or “Plaid,” these are pop culture references to a scene in the movie Spaceballs. The terminology is a play on a the warp speed effect in the popular 1960s TV show Star Trek.
There has been a lot of speculation about what Tesla’s response to the Porsche Taycan would be. We know that the new Raven Model S has enhanced Dynamic Air Suspension and a more powerful motor. A track mode that adjusted stability control and increased cooling for sustained power was certainly needed. The rumor that Tesla is moving the Model S and X to the 2170 battery cells used in the Model 3 instead of the 18650 format they use today is a persistent rumor, but not more than that according to a number of tweets and statements from Elon over the past year.
I didn’t imagine Tesla would go so far as to add a 3rd motor. This could potentially add as much as 50% more power. Normally, I would say the power would be limited to the output of the battery pack, but that would be forgetting that Tesla just closed on a company called Maxwell Technologies, which not only was working on technology that greatly reduces the cost of producing cells using dry electrodes but was best known for ultracapacitors. Quoting our article linked above, “If the economics made sense, a modest ultracapacitor array could work alongside the battery pack as a cache of energy, to reduce the load on (and/or work in parallel with) the main battery during short bursts of hard acceleration or strong regenerative braking.”
Today, Tesla released a video of a Model S driven by an amateur driver setting a new record for a 4 door sedan at Laguna Seca during advanced R&D testing of the Model S Plaid powertrain and chassis. Is that the same car or setup that Tesla shipped to Germany for the Nürburgring Lap?
It is unclear from the tweet if the Model S and Model X would get the identical powertrain as the new Roadster (which would still be much faster because it is smaller and lighter) or just a similar design. I’m sure there will be much speculation over the next year on this subject. Just as I was thinking there wasn’t much left to do with the Model S and X since they are so fast already, I once again greatly underestimated the determination and competitive spirit Elon Musk and Tesla continue to display. (Editor’s note: ditto.)
Flux capacitor option package
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 12, 2019
Use my Tesla referral link to get 1,000 miles of free Supercharging on a Tesla Model S, Model X, or Model 3 (you can’t use it on the Model Y yet), here’s the link: https://ts.la/paul92237 (but if someone else helped you, please use their link).
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