Tested: 2021 Tesla Model S Plaid Is Absurdly Quick but Also Has a Few Key Flaws


Tested: 2021 Tesla Model S Plaid Is Absurdly Quick but Also Has a Few Key Flaws

“Basically, our product plan is stolen from Spaceballs,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk said with a smirk when unveiling the 1020-hp Model S Plaid, referring to the 1987 film parody of Star Wars. In that movie, the fastest faster-than-light speed is called ludicrous speed. When the ship Spaceball I reaches that speed, it appears plaid, leading a character to remark in wide-eyed awe, “They’ve gone to plaid.” Both Ludicrous and Plaid have been names for modes in the swiftest Model S variants.

Teslas have always been quick, and the company, led by its nerd-in-chief, seems almost equally proficient at pushing inside-joke boundaries and making serious, industry-shifting moves. The Plaid is the result of both, and it absolutely delivers on taking Tesla’s performance to new ridiculous heights. It’s the first Tesla powered by three electric motors, two at the rear and a third at the front axle, all of them now permanent-magnet synchronous AC machines. New in the Plaid are carbon-fiber-sleeved rotors (just like it sounds, that’s the spinning part of the motor). The carbon-fiber shell holds each rotor together to enable rotational speeds of up to 20,000 rpm, about 25 percent faster than before. Because of the dissimilar coefficients of thermal expansion between carbon and copper, Tesla says the motor’s copper wire must be wound at extremely high tension, resulting in a very efficient electromagnetic field. Furthermore, the Plaid addresses the EV shortcoming (particularly in those that employ a direct-drive transmission, like Teslas) that power falls off dramatically with speed. Tesla claims that the Plaid continues to make 1000 of its 1020 horsepower all the way to its 200-mph top speed. Despite the extra motor, the Plaid weighed in at 4828 pounds, 175 pounds lighter than the last Model S Performance we tested.

For the full story, check out this article from Car And Driver.

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