Tesla has confirmed a new performance upgrade for the Model S, that will eventually migrate to most of its other cars. The automaker released a video of a Model S prototype testing the upgrade at Laguna Seca. The car turned in a lap time of 1:36.555, which Tesla claims is a record for four-door sedans at the California racetrack.
The upgrade is called Plaid, and it’s something Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been thinking about since at least 2015, when he mentioned a performance level above Tesla’s current Ludicrous mode. At the time, Musk referred to it as “Maximum Plaid,” a reference to the 1987 sci-fi comedy Spaceballs.
Following the release of the video, Musk confirmed further details on Twitter. He said the Plaid option is “about a year away” and will be offered on the Model X and the upcoming second-generation Roadster, in addition to the Model S. The upgrade won’t be available on the Model 3 or the upcoming Model Y, Musk said. He also said the Plaid upgrade would cost more than Tesla’s current offerings, but less than competitors. That likely refers to the Porsche Taycan, which is expected to start at over $150,000 in Turbo trim — the least-expensive option available at launch.
It’s going to be hard for Tesla to improve on the current Ludicrous mode. A Model S equipped with this high-performance option can do zero to 60 mph in 2.4 seconds, according to Tesla. That makes it the quickest-accelerating four-door car you can buy. But a Model S Plaid could be even quicker. When asked on Twitter if Tesla would add a third motor on top of the two (one for each axle) that already power the Model S, Musk replied in the affirmative.
Confirmation of Plaid mode comes shortly after Musk announced that a Model S was testing at Germany’s Nürburgring. That track is where automakers go to set lap records for production cars, so it was immediately assumed by fans that Tesla was going after the Porsche Taycan’s record of 7:42. But the cars Tesla brought to the ‘Ring had some non-stock features, such as a modified rear spoiler and fender flares. A record attempt is likely in the cards, but Tesla may also be conducting development work at the track.