Tesla’s ‘Plaid Powertrain’ could be game over for the Taycan before it’s begun

Now that Tesla CEO Elon Musk and the company’s research and development team have revealed the existence of upcoming ‘Plaid Powertrain’ …

Now that Tesla CEO Elon Musk and the company’s research and development team have revealed the existence of upcoming ‘Plaid Powertrain’ variants, a few more questions about their recently-announced competition come to mind. Will the Porsche Taycan’s engineering achievements be overshadowed before they’ve even been enjoyed by future customers? Will Taycan reservation holders decide to wait for Tesla’s newest Model S to come out before making their Porsche purchase?

Musk’s latest play to stop the competition looks like it may just be as effective as he’s hoping it will be. Brian from the YouTube channel i1Tesla summed the move up nicely in a message to Porsche: “Your car’s not even out yet, and Tesla’s diminishing what you’re going to be doing…With powertrain technology and battery technology…Tesla is so superior.” Brian further opined that what the Taycan has ultimately achieved is along the lines of what Tesla did with the Model S in 2012, or perhaps a step above it. The Plaid system then becomes an achievement that renders the question of whether the Taycan is a ‘Tesla killer’ completely moot.

Tesla Model S with development ‘Plaid’ powertrain sets Laguna Seca track record for 4-door sedan (Credit: Tesla)

As its flagship electric car, Porsche considers the Taycan is one of its most important vehicles since the 911. It’s priced in the same bracket as the iconic sports car, around $150,000, and claims a battery range in the neighborhood of 240 miles per charge with a 100 kWh battery pack. A current Model S Performance, which now includes Ludicrous Mode and Autopilot as a standard offering, has about 100 additional miles of range than the Taycan’s ratings and has a price tag around $50,000 less. Perhaps there are significant differences in the driving experience of both cars and the customers they are designed to appeal to have differences as well, but on paper there’s definitely a nod to Tesla’s current Model S. Once the new Roadster is on the market, of course, an entirely different comparison will be on the table.

Although the upcoming “refreshed” Model S and X are arguably exciting enough to depress future Taycan sales, there’s the other question of whether or not the latest plaid-centered announcement will impact Tesla’s sales as well. Musk has said that the newer versions will be more expensive than current offerings, but it’s not clear that the additional cost would deter buyers from investing in the superior battery and powertrains that would come with them. New Model S and X sales could suffer as a result if customers take the ‘wait and see’ approach.

Musk cited this particular concern when it came to the Model Y. If customers stopped purchasing the Model 3 in favor of waiting for the Model Y, Tesla would majorly suffer as a result, especially considering the annual sales expectations for the all-electric crossover are estimated to be around 1 million units per year. This was probably why the Model Y unveiling event was notably subdued compared to other unveilings. However, it was likely important for Tesla’s long-term investment worth to show the progress being made towards a vehicle that is hoped to be a game changer in the electric vehicle market (and greater auto market overall) despite this risk.

Obviously, the results of the so-called battle between the Porsche Taycan and Tesla’s current and future Model S offerings remains to be seen. The first front looks like it will take place on the Nürburgring racetrack in Western Germany as Tesla attempts to beat the Taycan’s 7 minutes and 42 seconds track time using a Plaid prototype Model S (or other variants) with a roll cage and 7 seats. For the record, Brian at i1Tesla has put his bets on a Tesla time of 7 minutes and 38 seconds. Stay tuned!

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Tesla Roadster Will Be Next To Brave Nurburgring, Says Elon Musk

Well, well, well, and here we have it, folks. As soon as Tesla CEO Elon Musk mentioned that the aging flagship Model S was heading to Nürburgring, …

Well, well, well, and here we have it, folks. As soon as Tesla CEO Elon Musk mentioned that the aging flagship Model S was heading to Nürburgring, people asked, “Why not the upcoming Tesla Roadster”?

This was likely because the competing Porsche Taycan is a much more expensive car than the Model S, in addition to the fact that the vehicle that braved Nürburgring was a prototype. Well, the upcoming Roadster is only available in prototype form, and specs-wise, it has the potential to totally obliterate the Porsche EV. But, that’s a matter for a future date.

Depending on how the sketchy situation all plays out, it could only be a matter of time before we learn how the Model S Performance “Raven” fares at the incredibly challenging German track. However, as each new day arrives, details about the chances of the Tesla being able to complete a timed, record run appear to be becoming more complicated.

At any rate, we can almost surely say that the upcoming Tesla Roadster, which may still prove relatively in line with the Taycan’s price point, could top the Taycan’s time. For what it’s worth, the Model S Performance Raven may have the prowess to do so as well, though we have no way of knowing if that could honestly be the case. As far as we’re concerned, it would take a miracle to make it so.

With all of the above being said, Musk just replied to a tweet related to the situation. After he posted about the new record at Laguna Seca — the Model S set the new all-time four-door sedan record — he answered a comment / question from Marques Brownlee (MKBHD) stating “Bring that Roadster too.”

Musk clarified that the Model S is already present at Nurgurbring, but Tesla may not attempt to beat the all-time record, at least as far as this week’s testing is concerned. He also said the Roadster will hit the German twisty track next year.

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Elon Musk Claims New Roadster Will Attempt To Break Nürburgring Record Next Year

Elon Musk Claims New Roadster Will Attempt To Break Nürburgring Record Next Year. Agent009 submitted on 9/11/2019Auto Spies Photos …

Elon Musk says that Tesla will bring the new Roadster supercar to the Nürburgring racetrack to attempt to break the record.

As we previously reported, following the recent launch of the Porsche Taycan, Musk appears to be on a mission to show that Tesla’s vehicles are still the highest-performing EVs available today.

Last week, he said that Tesla would bring a Model S to Nürburgring race track — right after Porsche established a new 4-door electric car record at the track.

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Elon Musk Claims Tesla Model S Sets New Record At Laguna Seca, Which Is Not The Nürburgring

Last week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk accepted the implicit challenge of the recently revealed 2020 Porsche Taycan by promising to send a Tesla Model S …

Photo: Tesla
Photo: Tesla

Last week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk accepted the implicit challenge of the recently revealed 2020 Porsche Taycan by promising to send a Tesla Model S to the infamous Nürburgring, implying an attempt to beat Porsche’s claimed record lap time. Musk now claims the Model S has set a record at Laguna Seca—likely a distraction from the fact that Tesla can’t set a ‘Ring time yet.

Ahead of the official reveal the Porsche Taycan last week—the German carmaker’s first-ever production electric car designed to be a performance sedan with consistent, repeatable track-lapping capability, even if its on-paper specs fall short of the enduring performance Model S—Porsche claimed that the Taycan Turbo S had set a record Nürburgring lap time of 7:42. Porsche claims it has the track record for the fastest “four door electric sports car.”


The Nürburgring is (debatably, we’d say) significant because it’s the go-to track for international automakers looking for valuable driving and tuning feedback on development prototypes, and its popularity among companies also makes it a great marketing opportunity for a good old fashioned dick measuring contest when somebody has a new performance car they want to brag about. You could argue ‘Ring records don’t really matter, and they kind of don’t; but for now it’s the target everyone likes to aim for, so it is what it is.

The problem for Tesla last week was that Musk sent out his tweet promising a Model S at the ‘Ring, but Tesla didn’t seem to go through the paperwork with ‘Ring officials to organize an exclusive time slot on the track which is required for any sort of timed record attempt, according to a German track official speaking to Road And Track:

A Nürburgring insider tells R&T that Tesla has a car leaving California today headed for the German track. When asked if Tesla could get exclusive track time, the insider said that was highly unlikely this late in the ‘Ring testing season—manufacturer track time is usually scheduled far in advance. “Tesla doesn’t have a presence there,” the source told us, “so I’m not sure if they actually know that.”


The next day, Tesla clarified that it would run the Tesla Model S during the “industry testing” sessions, which are often crowded with all sorts of assorted makes and models in various states of prototype and design phases. While these sessions are exclusive to the “industry,” namely automakers testing their cars, it means they all have to share the track with each other.


Tesla even got an offer from retired Mercedes-Benz Formula 1 champion and notable YouTube vlogger Nico Rosberg to do the driving, which would be a hoot if it actually happens:


(Rosberg was spotted at the Frankfurt Motor Show as recently as this morning, suggesting he’s not the one driving the Model S at the ‘Ring just yet.)

Because of the crowd, no official timed attempts are allowed during industry sessions, partially because there will be a bunch of sheet metal in the way, and also because it’s just transparently reckless and dangerous to encourage at-the-limit driving in such conditions.


Earlier today, Elon Musk tweeted again that the Model S had made it to the Nürburgring, but it wouldn’t yet be attempting to set a record time to beat the Porsche:


That’s fair enough. It’s common for automakers looking to set a record to mess around with the software and hardware on the car to specifically adapt to the ‘Ring’s particularly rigorous and sometimes dangerous conditions.

But today’s tweet also indicates that Musk did in fact intend to beat the Porsche record when he initially tweeted about it last week, despite not having organized the appropriate circumstances with the track itself yet.


Previous attempts at getting an (unofficial) ‘Ring time in a Model S resulted in a time of right around 10 minutes, through traffic on the track, and after the car suffered a period of reduced performance due to excessive battery heating, as we reported back in 2014.

In 2015, a Model S P85D allegedly ran a lap thorugh taffic in just under 9 minutes. Since then, the Model S has gotten some significant upgrades. I’m sure others have tried, but Tesla has never officially had a go at it as a company.


I suppose to make up for this minor “delay” in beating Porsche’s ‘Ring time, Tesla threw a Model S around Laguna Seca—a California track not at all similar to the extensive German Nürburgring—claiming the four-door electric performance sedan set a track record and promising more details later this week.


There is no official timed lap of the Porsche Taycan Turbo S around Laguna Seca yet, but it’s good to know the performance Model S is still fast, I suppose.

I’ll be waiting for that ‘Ring time, Elon. Unless the Laguna Seca record is an attempt to bring Porsche to Tesla’s home turf. We’ll see.

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Is Tesla’s Ultimate Porsche Showdown Spooking Elon Musk?

Elon Musk probably bit off more than he could chew when he challenged Porsche’s first electric vehicle – the Taycan Turbo – in a potential showdown …
Elon Musk, Tesla, Porsche

Elon Musk laid down the challenge to Porsche and forgot all about it. | Source: DAVID MCNEW / AFP

Elon Musk probably bit off more than he could chew when he challenged Porsche’s first electric vehicle – the Taycan Turbo – in a potential showdown at Nürburgring. Musk got all worked up after the Porsche Taycan Turbo set a lap record at the Ring and claimed the title of the fastest “four-door, all-electric sports car” that the Tesla CEO might have coveted.

Model S on Nürburgring next week

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 5, 2019

Elon Musk tries to beat around the bush

However, the irony is that Elon Musk didn’t book a slot at Nürburgring. The track’s management said that Tesla has not rented a time for an attempt and they might not be able to accommodate them either because the track remains fully-booked for the entire season.

The latest update says that a Tesla Model S is at the Ring, but for industry pool testing that allows manufacturers to only test their vehicles and not set a lap time. But in a bid to save face, Musk has just tweeted that the Tesla Model S has set the record for the fastest four-door car at the Laguna Seca.

Model S just set record for fastest 4 door ever at Laguna Seca, video tmrw

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 11, 2019

Musk’s tweet doesn’t give out any more details, though he says that the video will be out soon. But Teslarati says that in order to set the fastest lap for a production EV at the Laguna Seca Raceway, the Model S needed to clock a time lower than 1:37.5. That time was set by a modded Model 3 souped up with aftermarket parts.

So it remains to be seen if Tesla modded the Model S to achieve the fastest lap at the track, or if Musk is bragging without substance once more.

And if Musk thought that setting a time at Laguna Seca will make people forget about the Nürburgring, he was wrong.

When Nürburgring

— Alistair Milne (@alistairmilne) September 11, 2019

But we probably won’t try for best lap time this week, as we need to review & tune Model S thoroughly for safety on Nürburgring, especially Flugplatz section

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 11, 2019

Tesla gets roasted for Musk’s backtracking

Elon Musk’s latest tweets indicate that he might be having second thoughts about challenging the Porsche Taycan Turbo. Not surprisingly, Twitter is having a field day roasting Musk and Tesla.

Wait a second. Porsche didnt have to tune their car for safety. But Tesla is the safest car in the world right? You have to explain something here bro.

— Greenhouse Gas (@GasGreenhouse) September 11, 2019

Another Twitter user asked how Musk plans to “tune” an electric car, a term that’s usually associated with internal combustion engines that can be modded to generate more power.

Explain how you “tune” an electric car……

— cazin678 (@cazin678) September 11, 2019

Meanwhile, another user called out Musk for his earlier promises that have failed to materialize.

Sure buddy. You’re going to show up drive the car a few times, pretend like you’re working on it, and hope everyone forgets…. kind of like the cross country autopilot trip thats never going to happen.

— Bongrip Capital (@BongripCapital) September 11, 2019

So there’s a good chance that the Model S might not compete against the Porsche Taycan Turbo anytime soon.

And when Musk eventually finds out that the Model S – a premium family sedan – might not be a match for a supercar like the Taycan Turbo built by a manufacturer that focuses on “absolute performance” and “exceptional handling,” he would regret tweeting in the first place.

Last modified (UTC): September 11, 2019 1:43 PM

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