Luke Wilkinson 2019-09-13 15:15
A Tesla Model S prototype has set a new lap record at Laguna Seca, during testing for its new Plaid powertrain
Tesla is currently developing a hotter, three-motor electric drivetrain for the Model S, in a bid to keep its saloon competitive with the recently launched Porsche Taycan. The firm’s CEO, Elon Musk, announced on Twitter that the new powertrain will go on sale next year, priced “less than its competitors.”
The American brand’s Model S Plaid development mule recently set a new lap record for four-door vehicles at the Laguna Seca race track, with a claimed time of 1:36.555 minutes – making it a second quicker than the previous record holder, the Jaguar XE SV Project 8. Tesla released a video of the lap on its Twitter account after the event.
Tesla’s Plaid powertrain will also eventually be available on the Model X and the Tesla Roadster, although Musk confirmed it won’t be offered on the Model 3 or Model Y. We expect the system will comprise two electric motors for the rear axle and a single motor for the front.
The current range-topping Tesla Model S Ludicrous Performance drivetrain offers 605bhp and 931Nm of torque – a figure which the “Plaid” system will drastically improve. It's possible that the powertrain will be able out-gun the figures offered by the new Porsche Taycan Turbo S’s system, which produces 750bhp and 1050Nm of torque.
Musk also confirmed on Twitter that the Tesla Model S has been undergoing handling testing at the Nurburgring, with the intention of setting a lap time. Tesla’s new-found interest in the famed circuit is likely in reaction to the Porsche Taycan’s recent record-breaking lap, where the Taycan unofficially claimed the title of the world’s “fastest four-door, all-electric sports car.”
Previous shots of the potential record-attempting Model S at the ‘Ring showed aerodynamic modifications and new wheels wrapped in ultra-grippy Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres.
However, Musk also stated in a Tweet that the Model S tasked with setting the lap will sport seven seats – giving it an opportunity to break the current seven-seat record holder: the Skoda Kodiaq vRS.
What do you make of Tesla’s new “Plaid” powertrain? Let us know in the comments section below…