High-performance ‘plaid’ Tesla Model S coming next year

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk has confirmed a high-performance triple-motor powertrain is under development for his firm’s cars.

The South African entrepreneur revealed that the latest all-electric powertrain “is about a year away from production” and will be available on the Model S and X, and the Roadster supercar. It will not be offered on the Model 3 or Y.

It’s dubbed ‘Plaid’ in reference to a scene from the 1987 sci-fi comedy Spaceballs. Musk tweeted: “The only thing beyond Ludicrous is Plaid” – ludicrous mode is currently the fastest mode on Tesla’s cars and is itself a reference to the same movie scene.

He also confirmed that plaid models would be the most expensive in the range, but cost “less than competitors”.

(Tesla)

The news comes as Tesla has been spotted testing a heavily modified version of the Model S at the Nurburgring Nordschleife in Germany. The famous circuit, which winds its way through the Eifel forest, is used as a development facility by numerous manufacturers, though Tesla has never had a presence there.

Musk revealed the company planned to set a new lap record, likely in response to Porsche doing the same last week with its Taycan model, which will be a rival to the Model S.

But we probably won’t try for best lap time this week, as we need to review & tune Model S thoroughly for safety on Nürburgring, especially Flugplatz section

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 11, 2019

Exactly which record Tesla is going for is unclear, though. The Taycan’s electric saloon time was done with a production-specification model, but spy shots from the track show the Model S being used has a rear spoiler taped to the boot lid and high-grip performance car tyres that are not available to Tesla customers.

Musk put emphasis on the fact that the Model S lapping the ‘Ring has seven seats, so might be going for an all-electric seven-seat saloon record. No other vehicle has officially attempted this – the Taycan has five seats – meaning Tesla would be guaranteed the record.

(Tesla)

Nurburgring officials revealed Tesla hadn’t been in contact to book the circuit for a record attempt and said there were no slots available this year to do so. It has since found a 30-minute window for the attempt.

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