Tesla’s Project ‘Roadrunner’ opens the doors for the Model S Plaid’s release

Red Tesla Model S P100D+ spotted at the Nurburgring with rear diffuser (Photo: Teslarati)

Documents and filings about Tesla’s facility in Kato Road, near the Fremont Factory, suggest that the electric car maker is attempting to ramp its operations on the site, which is rumored to be an in-house battery research and manufacturing facility. The project, dubbed “Roadrunner,” is expected to start producing battery cells that are created by Tesla, for Tesla vehicles. And in a way, such a project could pave the way for the release of the company’s next flagship sedan: the Model S Plaid.

Recent filings from the company to the City of Fremont indicate that Tesla has a “small-scale” battery manufacturing operation in the city. That said, the company is now planning on ramping its operations, with workers increasing to 470 people overall, 400 of which “work in shifts, such that there are 100 employees working at manufacturing and production operations at any given time, all day, every day.”

Details of project Roadrunner have not been disclosed by Tesla, though expectations are high that it would play a huge role in the upcoming Battery Day event, which is scheduled this September. Just like the Kato Road facility, official details about Battery Day are quite slim, though speculations suggest that Tesla would be discussing the development of its next-generation cells, the million-mile battery.

The implications for the million-mile battery are numerous, from electric vehicles that could outlast their internal combustion counterparts to battery storage systems that could last literal decades. But apart from these advantages, better batteries could also help electric vehicles tap into even higher levels of performance. Fortunately, Tesla actually has a vehicle lined up with such a goal in mind. It was even sent over to the Nurburgring last year, where it set unofficial records before it was brought home to the United States.

This vehicle is the Tesla Model S Plaid. The Plaid Model S is, as per Elon Musk, equipped with three electric motors that would allow the vehicle to perform even better than the already impressive Raven Model S Performance that’s available today. What is particularly interesting is that neither Tesla nor Musk has spoken about the Model S Plaid’s battery. Speculations from the Tesla community suggest that the upcoming variant of the flagship sedan could be the perfect first vehicle to carry the company’s next breed of batteries.

In a way, it would be almost poetic. The Model S is the vehicle that represents the point when Tesla hit its stride as a legitimate automaker. It is also the car that put Tesla on the map in the car industry, with the vehicle sweeping multiple awards during its tenure. It would then be unsurprising if Tesla rolls out its next-generation batteries on the pinnacle of the Model S as well.

Such a project would be a good match too, considering that the Kato Road facility is just a pilot battery cell production line, and thus, likely able to support only a limited number of vehicles per year. What’s more, Elon Musk has also suggested that the Plaid Model S’ was poised for a 2020 release, practically making it a perfect fit for the company’s project Roadrunner ramp.

Simon Alvarez: Simon is a reporter with a passion for electric cars and clean energy. Fascinated by the world envisioned by Elon Musk, he hopes to make it to Mars (at least as a tourist) someday.
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