The Tesla Model S Plaid Won't Actually Go 200 MPH

Your $130,000 Tesla will need upgraded wheels and tires to hit the double ton

Illustration for article titled The Tesla Model S Plaid Won't Actually Go 200 MPH
Image: Tesla

Tesla is having a hell of a time with the whole car business this week. First Elon announced that the Plaid + model was cancelled because the standard Plaid was too good. Then earlier on Thursday Tesla announced it was raising the price of the standard Plaid, set to launch Thursday night, by $10,000. And now the company has been forced to walk back performance claims of the new high-speed Model S. Apparently that 200 mile per hour claim is only true if your car is equipped with optional wheels that don’t yet exist.

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Tesla has recently added a note to its configurator page informing potential customers that “The indicated Plaid top speed requires proper wheels and tires which will be available in Fall 2021.” Allegedly, at least according to a display at tonight’s Plaid Event, the new facelifted Model S is now capable of a drag coefficient of 0.208, which beats the already impressive Mercedes EQS and Lucid Air by 0.001 and 0.002 Cd respectively. That will certainly help the car to achieve a high top speed, but apparently without the right wheels and tires, it’s still out of reach.

When the Plaid was announced last year, Daddy Elon promised it would run 0-60 in under 2 seconds, run the quarter mile in “sub-9 seconds”, go 200 miles per hour, and run on the company’s new more-efficient 4860 battery cells. As we get closer to the Plaid actually delivering, it’s failing ever more of those claims. Not only have the 4860 cells been dropped, but it’s only been able to run a 9.2-second quarter (which is truly bonkers, but not a sub-9). Range has been reduced, the price has been increased, and now the top speed has been pushed back. Just once it would be awesome if Tesla under-promised and over-delivered.

Hitting 200 miles per hour is not an easy thing to do, and it’s pretty much useless on any street car, but the fact that it’s now within reach for a relatively mainstream car is quite an accomplishment. I’m sure that several people will order this 200+ MPH wheel and tire package just for bragging rights, but how many will actually take their Tesla to 200? A dozen? Fewer? It’s a little funny that the fancy new Tesla continues the trend of Tesla failing to deliver on its claims, but if/when this wheel package is released to the public, it’ll make the Model S faster than pretty much anything in that price range. Will that be the electric car’s 959/F40 moment?

I’m guessing that this top speed has less to do with the wheels, but more the tire on which the car rides. Getting an extremely heavy machine like the Model S (already nearly 5,000 pounds in dual-motor guise) to go 200 miles per hour is going to put a lot of stress on those Michelins. Maybe this is a brand new tire that the French tire maker had to develop specifically for the Plaid. I guess I’d rather Tesla err on the side of safety and caution for once than allow people to go two bills in their car without the proper tire for it.

In any case, the tri-motor superfast Tesla is officially launching on Thursday night at 11PM Eastern, and the Tesla website still promises deliveries beginning in June. There are twenty days left in the month to make that true. We’ll see.

The company has been taking deposits for the Plaid since last September. I wonder if anyone who placed a deposit on their Plaid will be backing out of the deal. Either way, it’s a great way for Tesla to get interest free $1,000 loans from hundreds of customers. Man, what a great idea for some free capital injection for your car company!

Jalopnik contributor with a love for everything sketchy and eclectic.

DISCUSSION

jlake3
jlake

Is there anything more to the Model S Plaid than crazy power? I’ve seen article after article about that, but as far as I can tell it is still using the same interior and pretty much the same exterior?

I’ve seen people say it’s the answer to the Porsche Taycan and the Mercedes EQS, but last time I saw the inside of a Model S in person (admittedly a decent while ago) I didn’t walk away thinking that was a $70-80k experience, much less a $140k one.

Acceleration and quarter-mile times are certainly nothing to sneer at, but I’m just not seeing it as a rival to the flagship models of luxury brands just because they threw more power on it.