The new Tesla Model S Plaid has set the fastest laptime for a production-spec EV at the Nurbürgring, according to company CEO Elon Musk.
According to Musk on twitter, the new 750kW range-topper lapped the 20.59-kilometres Nordschleife circuit in 7mins 30.909secs – 12 seconds quicker than the previous record lap set by the Porsche Taycan Turbo in 2019. The Tesla’s average speed was 165km/h.
A modified Model S Plaid will now seek to cut that laptime further, with “added aero surfaces, carbon brakes and track tyres” among the enhancements suggested by Musk. He said Tesla does not need to be “in the loop” for this next attempt, suggesting it has partnered with a tuning company in the pursuit of setting more lap records.
The Plaid powertrain arrives as part of the most substantial update for the Model S since it went on sale in 2012. It is also available in the larger Model X SUV, which has also been refreshed for 2021.
The Model S Plaid and Model X Plaid take 750kW from a tri-motor electric powertrain, which in the Model S is good for a claimed 0-100km/h time of 1.99sec, 0-250km/h in a quarter of a mile and a 320km/h top speed “with the right tyres,” according to CEO Elon Musk.
The larger Model X Plaid needs 2.5sec to complete the 0-100km/h sprint, but that still gives it the “quickest acceleration of any SUV”.
However, the 750kW Plaid+ version of the Model S, which would have bumped range up from an estimated 625 kilometres to more than 830 kilometres (on the US EPA test) – more than any EV currently in production – and further cut the 0-100km/h time, has been officially cancelled.
Taking to Twitter earlier this year ahead of the Plaid’s launch, Musk said: “Plaid+ is canceled. No need, as Plaid is so good.”
He called the standard Plaid the “quickest production car ever made of any kind” and confirmed a sub-2.0sec 0-100km/hh sprint time. To officially claim that title, the Model S Plaid will need to beat the new Rimac Nevera hypercar’s 1.85sec 0-100km/h time.
The Plaid+’s cancellation came following a month of speculation, since Tesla quietly stopped taking pre-orders for the 2022 model in May. It hasn’t been publicly disclosed how many customers had placed deposits.
The Plaid powertrain is described by Tesla as “beyond ludicrous,” in reference to the Ludicrous Mode function that gives its cars stand-out acceleration capabilities.
The update also brings new battery technology for improved range and efficiency. Precise technical details are yet to be confirmed, but new thermal architecture gives faster charging and gives “more power and endurance in all conditions”.
Inside, the Model S and Model X have been completely overhauled, with the old vertically oriented touchscreen making way for a new 17.0-inch widescreen display that offers “exceptional responsiveness” and can be tilted from left to right to give easier access for passengers or drivers as needed.
There’s also a new, separate 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen mounted at the rear of the centre console, giving back-seat passengers access to various entertainment and comfort functions.
Perhaps most notable is the introduction of a new steering wheel design that’s seemingly modelled on those used to steer aircraft. Tesla calls it a “stalkless steering yoke,” having done away with the conventional driving-mode and indicator stalks, relocating these controls to the large new central touchscreen.
The car “guesses drive direction based on what obstacles it sees, context and nav map,” according to Musk, but this can be manually overridden.
This device has been deemed legal for use in many markets including Europe and the RHD UK market, but a conventional round steering wheel will also be available.
Software updates include the infotainment system being upgraded with a processing power of 10 teraflops, which means the Tesla Arcade gaming function is now comparable in terms of functionality with modern gaming consoles.
A 22-speaker, 960-watt audio system is equipped as standard and new microphones have been fitted to offer active noise-cancelling.
Deliveries of the new cars will get under way in 2022, with the list price of the Model S Plaid starting at $186,990.