Elon Musk remarked during the recently-held third-quarter earnings call that Tesla is continuing the production of the Model S more for “sentimental reasons.” The vehicle, after all, is a niche product compared to the best-selling, reasonably-priced Model 3. Yet, the Model S remains Tesla’s flagship car, and it will remain so, if Musk’s statements are any indication.
“The Model S literally won Motor Trend‘s best car ever in history by the way. It’s incredible, especially the new one with variable damping suspension, hospital operating room HEPA filter for air purification, the raven powertrain. It’s the fastest car in the world, and it’s just so easy to drive. It makes you feel like Superman driving that car. It’s incredibly safe. It’s just an amazing vehicle,” Musk said.
The Model S is Tesla’s first car that it designed from the ground up, and thus, is already about seven years old. As such, it appears that the time is right for Tesla to look into updating the Model S for the Model 3 and Model Y era.
Enter the “Plaid” Model S. The aggressively styled vehicles were brought to the Nurburgring seemingly as part of Tesla’s efforts at establishing its own record at the track, which just so happens to be the location where the Porsche Taycan — a car long expected to be a Model S rival — was tempered as it was refined for release.
Based on images and videos of the Model S Plaid, the vehicle seems to be every bit of a monster as intended by the electric car maker. Here’s what you need to know about Tesla’s Model S with Plaid Powertrain.
It will look slightly different
While the vehicles retain the classic general Model S look, Tesla’s Plaid prototypes in the Nurburgring today feature a widebody kit to accommodate wider tires. The vehicles are also optimized for track use, as could be seen in various aero improvements to the all-electric sedan. Among these are a larger front air intake, a front lip spoiler, large air vents behind the front wheels, a diffuser at the rear, and a new spoiler.
Being test units, it remains uncertain if the Plaid Model S production version will retain these aero enhancements.
It will have three motors
Taking a page from the next-generation Tesla Roadster’s playbook, the Plaid Model S will have a three-motor configuration. Tesla has not announced details about this setup, though one can infer that it involves placing two motors at the rear and one motor at the front, just like the company’s upcoming all-electric supercar.
It will be track-capable
The Model S, even at its P100D trim, was notoriously prone to throttling issues on the track. Not so with the Plaid version. The Plaid Model S is made to attack corners at incredibly high speeds and complete multiple laps around a track without losing performance. So far, comments from eyewitnesses at the Nurburging have remarked that the Plaid vehicles Tesla brought over are almost disturbingly fast, and even at their initial iterations, each vehicle was reportedly finishing five or six laps a day around the nearly 13-mile Nurburgring with optimum performance.
It will likely have at least two trims
Tesla’s Plaid Powertrain appears to be a direct reference to the three electric motors in the vehicle. But it appears that the electric car maker will be releasing more than one variant of its tri-motor Model S. During its initial excursion to the Nurburging, it was reported that the blue Plaid Model S unit was able to complete a 7:40 lap, close to the results of the Taycan Turbo. The red Model S Plaid prototype, on the other hand, achieved a hand-stopped time of 7:23.
This certainly seems to be an indication that the two prototypes correspond to different versions of the vehicle. It might be cliche or Elon Musk’s classic meme lord-worthy humor, but it appears that its red Plaid Model S is the faster of its two prototypes. This is quite interesting, as spy shots of the blue Plaid Model S seem to suggest that the car was stripped down, while the seemingly faster red Model S is attacking the track with all its door panels and extra seats.
Its price will be expensive but cheaper than the Taycan Turbo
Elon Musk has noted on Twitter that the Plaid Model S will be priced higher than the Raven Performance version that is on sale today, though he also noted that the vehicle will cost “less than our competitors.” With this in mind, it appears that a Plaid Model S will start between the $100k-$150k range. This seems to be the case considering that Porsche priced its Taycan Turbo variant at just over $150k before options.
It will enter production in less than a year
Elon Musk has stated that the Tesla Model S Plaid units are set for production around Summer 2020, which is also around the same time that the company will start manufacturing the Model Y crossover. This is quite in line with previous leaks from the Fremont plant, which pointed to the electric car maker tooling the facility for the production of the Model Y and an updated Model S.