Tesla CEO and co-founder Elon Musk can claim bragging rights after a special tri-motor Tesla Model S easily beat the record set by Porsche’s electric Taycan at the iconic Nürburgring track in Germany. And he promises there is more to come.
Reports came in overnight that the “Plaid” tri-motor Tesla Model S smashed the Porsche Taycan lap time at the Nürburgring Nordschleife with a time of just 7:23 seconds, and Musk reckons the production version will do it officially next year.
The German carmaker’s first all-electric vehicle, the Taycan, recently smashed previous records by lapping the 20.8km Nordschleife (North Loop) track in 7:42 seconds, prompting Musk to tweet: “Model S on Nürburgring next week“.
The Model S vehicle involved is not a production vehicle however. Instead, it is fitted with 7 seats and a new “Plaid” tri-motor powertrain (Plaid is a pop culture reference stemming from 80s comedy sci-fi film Spaceballs), and a number of other modifications.
This means even if it was officially timed, it would not stand against the Porsche Taycan record for regular production vehicles.
Musk, however, is not bothered by this, noting only that: “It’s a start”. This is because by October/November 2020, he expects a next-gen Model S with the Plaid tri-motor powertrain and 7 seats will actually be in production.
It’s a start. We expect these track times to be beaten by the actual production 7 seat Model S Plaid variant that goes into production around Oct/Nov next year.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 17, 2019
Of note is the fact that Nico Rosberg – who offered to drive the Model S for Tesla when Musk first put it out there – was not behind the wheel of the Porsche-beating Model S.
Instead, it was experienced VLN endurance championship driver and proven Nordschleife expert Thomas Mutsch who sat behind the wheel during the testing of the SCG 003 project of the Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus.
He was complemented by Andreas Simonsen, who races in the VLN for the Porsche Team Huber with a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup with start number 80, along with Swedish-born Carl Rydquist.
The Model S was Tesla’s first volume production vehicle and set the benchmark for modern electric vehicle standards of today with superior range and performance than other models when it was first released in 2012.
Tesla does not name its models according to production years, as it is able to upgrade the vehicle software via “Over-the-air” (OTA) updates which has in turn improved older models, such as adding more infotainment and games, longer range and other features such as charge rate.
However, there are a few hardware updates that have led to code-naming of newer versions, the latest of which is the “Raven” which features a reworked Model 3 motor over the front axle, improved suspension and greater range.
The tri-motor Plaid was rumoured to be in the works in June, with word that the tri-motor would consist of a small motor at the front and two larger motors on the rear, as leaked by an insider to Youtube channel Like Tesla.
Other details revealed by the insider at the time include that the next-gen 2020 Model S would have a range of over 640km, and just under 640km for a Plaid Model X.
This would be achieved by a new battery pack with over 100kWh of capacity but 160 kilos lighter also increasing the range.
A new cooling system that would put to rest criticism of the Model S cooling issues was also rumoured as being part of what we now know is called the Plaid upgrade, as well as the ability to use the new V3 Supercharger maximum charging rate of 250kW.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.