Tesla is about to go a step beyond Ludicrous – with the new Model S Plaid.
At the company's Battery Day presentation on September 22, CEO Elon Musk announced they were taking pre-orders for the Tesla Model S Plaid. This version of the car, expected to debut in late 2021, offers what may be the fastest acceleration time to 60 mph in a mass-production car. It's also expected to have an incredible range of over 500 miles between charges.
It also has an equally incredible price tag of $139,990 at the base level.
"We're confident the Model S Plaid will achieve the best track time of any production vehicle ever, of any kind, two-door or otherwise," Musk said at the event.
Tesla has set the bar high. Here's what you need to know.
Tesla Model S Plaid: Why is it named Plaid?
For those not in the know, Musk is a big fan of Spaceballs. The '80s sci-fi comedy crops up across Musk's companies, including The Boring Company's flamethrower, inspired by the movie's merchandising scenes. Tesla's "Ludicrous Mode" takes its name from the spaceship speed that also features in the film.
In the same scene as "ludicrous" speed, Spaceballs' ship eventually accelerates to "plaid," accompanied by patterns across the view screen. Tesla first made reference to "plaid speed" during the November 2017 unveiling of the second-generation Roadster, which came with a special "Plaid" mode. The reference also became the name of the powertrain driving the Model S, as well as a future Model X update.
Tesla Model S Plaid: How fast is it?
Tesla claims the Plaid Model S has the "quickest 0-60 mph and quarter mile acceleration of any production car ever."
Final specs are still obscure, but at the time of writing the car is listed as having an acceleration time of 0 to 60 mph in less than two seconds, and a quarter-mile of under nine seconds. Car and Driver reports the fastest production car in the world right now is the limited-production Porsche 918 Spyder, with 0 to 60 mph in 2.1 seconds. The same publication found the Spyder can finish the quarter-mile in 9.8 seconds. Plaid might top that.
Beyond acceleration, the car will likely offer a top speed of 200 mph. It delivers all this with over 1,100 horsepower, powered by its tri-motor, all-wheel-drive configuration.
Lap times suggest Tesla is onto something powerful. In September 2019, Tesla posted a video showing a prototype model of the car doing a lap around California's Laguna Seca racetrack. The 1:36.555 time was the best for a four-door saloon at the time. At Battery Day in September, Tesla shared a new Laguna Seca lap time of 1:30.3. It could be even better.
"We think probably there's another three seconds or more to take off that time," Musk said at the Battery Day event.
Tesla Model S Plaid: What is the battery range?
The Tesla Model S Plaid is expected to offer more than 520 miles of range on a single charge. This would make it the best available in a Tesla if it was released today, beating the current Model S Long Range Plus by 100 miles.
But depending on release time, the Model S Plaid may be edged out the top spot by the Cybertruck, which is also expected to offer over 500 miles of range. The truck is likely launching in late 2021 — around the same time as the Model S. It may also be beaten by the second-generation Roadster, which is expected to come to production after the Cybertruck. It is supposed to have 620 miles of range.
Tesla Model S Plaid: What is the price and release date?
The Tesla Model S Plaid is currently listed on the company's website with a price tag of $139,990. As high as it is, there are plenty of ways to push that price even higher:
- Color options. White is standard, while black, midnight blue, and silver are all $1,500 extra. Red costs an extra $2,500.
- Upgrading the wheels to 21-inch Sonic Carbon Twin Turbine Wheels costs an extra $4,500.
- The interior comes in all black and carbon fiber as standard. White seats and doors costs an extra $1,500, and it comes in a choice of black carbon fiber or oak wood.
- The semi-autonomous Autopilot mode, which brakes and steers automatically along a lane, comes as standard. Full self-driving costs an extra $8,000 at the time of writing — the price has risen multiple times since its introduction. The package currently offers Autopark, Summon, traffic light and stop sign control, auto lane change, and exiting at the correct ramp depending on inputted destination.
With all these options, the price of the Tesla Model S Plaid appears to max out at $156,490.
An exact release date is unclear at this stage, but Tesla's website claims buyers can expect their car to arrive in late 2021. With the Cybertruck also supposed to start shipping around that time, Tesla seems to have a busy release schedule in the coming year.