Tesla will soon bust a 400 mile (640km) driving range ceiling and aims to launch the “insane” tri-motor Plaid powertrain by the end of 2020, according to CEO and co-founder Elon Musk.
The Californian car maker is already known for the high energy efficiency of its vehicles – the Tesla Model 3 is the most efficient mid-size sedan in the US and eight times more efficient than the average petrol car in Australia.
Speaking said at the company’s fourth quarter earnings call on Wednesday (US time), Musk said in response to a question that the Tesla powertrains were “pretty damn good – it’s way better than anything else out there by a country mile.”
He cited, as an example, the Model S compared to the Porsche Taycan. And who could forget the intense “competition” between the two at the gruelling Nürburgring Nordschleife track in September that ensued after the Taycan’s launch, or the surprise when the EPA rated the Taycan with just 201 miles (323km) range.
“For example, the Model S has 100kWh pack, the Taycan has a 95kWh pack. The Model S steadily approaching 400 miles range. The Taycan has 200 miles range (95kWh pack),” Musk said.
“We must be using that energy pretty efficiently and the powertrain is a big part of that.”
Continual improvement of its powertrains is clearly near the the top of Tesla’s to-do list.
In April, 2019, Musk said at the Tesla Autonomy Day that it would start installing a new “Raven” drivetrain design in its premium Model S and Model X that utilises a reworked Model 3 permanent magnet rear wheel drive unit on the front axle. This would allow Tesla to increase the driving range of the Model S to 370 miles (595km).
November saw Musk promise another 5% increase in range for the Model S, Model X and Model 3 thanks to optmised motor control via an over-the-air (OTA) update.
There was some kickback from customers who had been complaining that a previous OTA update had in fact decreased range according to Inside EVs, which suggested that the new OTA was a “white flag” to these customers.
A 400 mile, or rather 640+km, range for the Model S, however, would certainly be a milestone above and beyond any so-called white flag.
It is not clear if this is particular to the Raven powertrain, or if similar efficiencies and increases in range will also be passed to the Model 3 and soon-to-be launched Model Y – something to keep a close eye on.
Which brings us to the next expected development: the tri-motor “Plaid” powertrain that Tesla was apparently testing out at the Nürburgring last September.
Following comments about more efficient powertrains and resultant increased range, Musk said, “The plaid powertrain is like mind-blowing I think.
“It’s coming out later this year probably, that’s the goal, get the Plaid powertrain out by end of year
“This is like alien technology, it’s insane. I didn’t event think we could do it.”
It will likely have three motors, perhaps two on the rear axle and one on the front, but will only be available on the Model S and Model X. Other than that, not a great deal is known about the Plaid powertrain.
One thing that is certain, however, is that the Plaid powertrain is not focussed on efficiency – this is all about acceleration. As Musk famously said in September via Twitter: “The only thing beyond Ludicrous is Plaid“.