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The word “ludicrous” means so foolish, unreasonable, or out of place as to be amusing or ridiculous. Considering this definition, does it make sense that Elon Musk used this term to describe the high-performance mode of Tesla’s electric vehicles? Absolutely. The eccentric CEO gave us Ludicrous Mode and Ludicrous+ Mode in Tesla EVs before 2022. Then along came Plaid.

Here’s more about these Tesla performance features, including how Ludicrous Mode compares to Plaid.

What happened to Ludicrous Mode in 2022?

A blue Tesla Model S Plaid drives past a park landscape.
Tesla Model S Plaid | Tesla

The first model year for the high-performance mode with the crazy name was 2016. From 2016 until 2021, Ludicrous and Ludicrous+ Modes (Ludicrous+ was added in 2017) designated the settings to enable Tesla EVs to achieve incredible speed and performance. In the 2022 models, Tesla replaced these modes with a new trim designation, Plaid.

Where did these Tesla name designations come from?

Fans of Spaceballs, Mel Brooks’ 1987 sci-fi/comedy sendup of Star Wars, know about Ludicrous and Plaid modes. In the movie, the bad guys are chasing the heroes and bypass Light and Ridiculous speeds to reach Ludicrous and Plaid speeds, with Plaid being the fastest. Elon Musk enjoys hiding ’80s pop culture references in Tesla vehicles, and Plaid and Ludicrous Mode are two.

What is Ludicrous Mode?

Tesla Model S in Ludicrous Mode
Tesla Model S in Ludicrous Mode | Ethan Miller/Getty Images

This mode designation comes from software enhancements and hardware upgrades that give the 2016–2021 Model S and Model X improved power and speed. This extra power burst is the result of increased draw from the battery to the electric motors when Ludicrous Mode is engaged. These upgrades allow the Tesla EVs to accelerate explosively on any road or track.

What is Ludicrous+ Mode?

The higher-performance Ludicrous+ is essentially the track-ready mode for the Tesla Model S and Model X. This feature heats the batteries to the optimum temperature to provide maximum battery power and a Launch Mode to rocket the vehicle off the line.

What is the Tesla Plaid trim designation?

A red Tesla Model S Plaid corners on a desert track.
Tesla Model S Plaid | Tesla

The Plaid trim replaces Ludicrous Mode and Ludicrous+ Mode on the 2022 and newer Tesla Model S and Model X. Instead of being a setting that can be turned on and off, the Plaid trim always provides max power and acceleration as part of its build.

Plaid models pack a third electric motor, while lower trims have two motors. The Tesla Model S Plaid can rocket from 0 to 60 mph in only 1.99 seconds. That’s faster than models using Ludicrous+ Mode, which can complete the same sprint in 2.3 seconds.

So far, Tesla offers the Plaid trim only for the Model S and Model X. However, rumors suggest the company could add this trim designation to the Model 3 and Model Y.

Tesla hid another ‘Spaceballs’ Easter egg

Tesla Model S and Model X EVs with Ludicrous+ Mode offer owners something special when they activate the feature. According to Not a Tesla App, once this mode is engaged, the massive central screen goes dark, and a starfield with swiftly moving lights zooms forward, resembling the jump to hyperspace from Spaceballs.

Additionally, yet another Tesla Easter egg nods to The Matrix when the vehicle asks:

“Are you sure you want to push the limits? This will cause accelerated wear of the motor, gearbox, and battery.”

Below that message, two buttons appear, one red and one blue, referencing the red and blue pill options from the 1999 Keanu Reeves sci-fi hit. The blue button reads, “No, I want my Mommy,” and the red button reads, “Yes, bring it on!”

Unconventional naming is part of Tesla’s appeal

Elon Musk’s eccentricity emerges in a fun and nerdy way in many Tesla EVs. In addition to Ludicrous Mode, Ludicrous+ Mode, and the Plaid trim, the naming structure of the Model S, Model 3, Model X, and Model Y spells “S3XY.” It would have spelled “SEXY” if Ford hadn’t beaten Tesla to trademarking “Model E.” Still, the way the “3” is shaped, you can see the intent. Tesla makes driving an EV more fun than you might expect.