Mercedes has AMG, BMW has the M Division, Audi has RS and Cadillac has V. But what about Tesla?by Khris Bharath, on
Right from the onset, Tesla’s have always been pretty quick cars. The first-gen Roadster seems like a spec from the distant past, but it was nice to see Musk, drive up on stage in one, at the recently held ’Giga Rodeo’. Fast forward to today and the current crop of Tesla’s has turned things up to a eleven, especially when you consider cars like the Model S Plaid and the recently unveiled Model X Plaid.
’PLAID’, no I’m not talking about the tartan stuff that you and I have known forever as a red chequered pattern from across the pond up in Scotland. But thanks to the larger-than-life CEO of Tesla, Elon Musk, and his clan, today ’Plaid’ has become a household name, and folks in the auto space either love it or hate it. They’re not just the quickest EVs around, but they’re the quickest EVs full stop. Ever since the Model S Plaid broke cover in June last year, it has been tearing up drag strips around the country.
Just say the word PLAID, not just when you're around car people, and folks know exactly what vehicle you're referring to.
Given that the term has garnered so much publicity and attention, wouldn’t the natural progression be for Tesla to actually spin off PLAID as a performance sub-brand? Premium marques like Mercedes, BMW, and Audi have had a performance division for decades. I suppose Tesla too could also benefit from such a strategy, provided they do it right.
How Did The PLAID Name Come About
But how exactly did the Plaid name come about? Well, according to the Washington Post, ’Plaid’ is in direct reference to a scene from the 1987 film ’Spaceballs’ where a spaceship travels at warp speed and it eventually does Plaid speed, demonstrated by a plaid pattern through the windscreen. Well, you have this exact graphic appear on the dash of the Model S and X Plaid when you mash the throttle in Plaid mode.
Current Plaid Line up
Okay, prior to Plaid, Tesla’s fastest Model S and Model X, came with the P badge, where P stood for ’Performance’. In fact, P models are still the most high-performance versions of the Model 3 and Model Y currently on sale.
Coming to the Plaids’s, both the Model S and Model X Plaid offer some pretty ballistic acceleration for what are essentially your daily runabouts (pricey ones at that). Okay, that is what they’re supposed to be on paper, but you and I know these cars are so much more.
With both EVs packing over 1000 horsepower from their tri-motor setups, they’re unlike any other family cars on the road. They might even handle decently in the twisties, but they’re not necessarily designed for track work are they, and therein lies an opportunity for Tesla.
Could Plaid Be Tesla’s Performance Division?
The true essence of a performance car comes from stuff like upgraded brakes, suspension, and tires; stuff that you genuinely need when you’re at the limit with your hefty EV. None of these are currently offered by Tesla from the factory, no not even as options and this is where I see Tesla can explore another avenue.
Most EV makers turn up the heat on the electric motors and the batteries on their performance models and call it a day.
For now, you’ve just got a track mode. There is so much potential here. The EV maker could even go on and offer specific packages coupled with software upgrades that offer specific states of tune, depending on how much you’re willing to splurge. Here are Thomas and James from Throttle House who share the same view.
Its not just the software, but also the hardware
If you look at the kind of performance upgrades that AMG, M Division or Audi RS has to offer, the list is truly endless, but you want to steer clear of the stuff that just makes you look like you’re going fast (aka go-faster stripes), and most of these brands are guilty of these pseudo upgrades. Tesla would have to get it right, with the sort of upgrades that actually make a difference. The result would be EVs, that don’t just do well out on the drag strip, but can also tear up racetracks?
Here’s Donut Media on the current state of some performance brands and how NOT to do it
Well, according to these 2019 Tweets from Elon, it appears that the Plaid will be limited to just the Model S, X, and the Roadster, and not the 3 and Y. So fingers crossed if Elon changes his mind given how positive the response has been so far for the brand.
Yes. To be clear, Plaid powertrain is about a year away from production & applies to S,X & Roadster, but not 3 or Y. Will cost more than our current offerings, but less than competitors.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 12, 2019
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 12, 2019
Like him or not, if there is one thing that Elon Musk has done right, it is that he has changed our perception of electric cars. I’m not going to get into the niti-grities here, but about a decade ago, the amount of skepticism around Tesla’s success was widespread. However here we are in 2022, where we no longer think of EVS as milk floats anymore.
The man sure did succeed in getting the ball rolling for the auto industry as a whole in making the switch to relying on sustainable energy sources. As for how the Plaid range will evolve, I’m sure many owners will resonate with this idea of a high-performance division, that would essentially transform their cars into proper track weapons.