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The Tesla logo on the front of a Model S vehicle

Tesla Reportedly Declined Pushing Super Saiyan Limits for the Model S Plaid for a Simple Reason

Elon Musk took a joke from 'Spaceballs' as the basis for the name of his new Tesla Model S variant. The new Tesla Model S Plaid is also so-named because its performance metrics are, frankly, Super Saiyan-level.

Remember the movie Spaceballs? If you don’t (or, heaven forbid, haven’t seen this classic comedy), there’s a scene in which the villain, Dark Helmet, orders his starship’s crew to chase the hero, Lonestar’s, ship. In a spoof of sci-fi film scenes in which starship captains engage light speed, and the viewing audience is suddenly treated to a kaleidoscope of light, Dark Helmet orders his crew to go to the top speed, “Ludicrous speed.” The hero’s sidekick then comments on the kaleidoscope from the villain’s ship that he and the viewers see, noting they’re going so fast, “they’ve gone to plaid.” So, how does this relate to the Tesla Model S?

Well, Elon Musk took this in-joke as the basis for the name of his new Tesla Model S variant. The new Model S Plaid is also so-named because its performance metrics are, frankly, Super Saiyan-level.

The Tesla Model S Plaid’s stats

The Tesla logo on the front of a Model S vehicle
Tesla Model S logo | Niall Carson/PA Images via Getty Images

What makes the Tesla Model S Plaid worthy of its hyperbolic name? Its unique configuration places two motors, one by each rear axle and one at the front axle by the right wheel. With each motor producing 340 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque, this setup provides the Plaid with a massive 1,020 hp and 1,050 lb-ft of torque.

In fact, the Plaid variant of the Tesla Model S could potentially have had a further power boost by adding a fourth front motor. Such a vehicle would have an absurd 1,360 hp and 1400 lb-ft of torque. The Plaid can hit 163 mph and go from 0 to 60 mph in 2.07 seconds. It can even cut that down to 1.99 seconds in Drag Strip mode on a prepped surface, MotorTrend reported. Imagine how fast a quad motor setup would be.

However, Tesla opted not to manufacture the Model S Plaid with four motors. It’s not as if it needed to with such segment-leading stats. Still, why not? If they added three, why not four and thoroughly blow competing models out of the water in terms of power and traction?

Why not a quad motor setup?

According to a recent MotorTrend piece, a source who works at Tesla shared that the company absolutely has the capabilities, knowledge, and resources to manufacture a quad motor Tesla Model S. Such a vehicle would truly be the Super Saiyan of EVs, if not of all four-door sedans.

However, the source noted that the law of diminishing returns would be in effect. Tesla’s analysis is that a quad motor setup for the Model S would be less efficient than a tri-motor one. It would be more costly and complicated to manufacture, which would naturally bleed over to the market price and manufacturer warranty costs. Additionally, the frunk is already five cubic feet smaller in the 2022 model than in prior year models. Adding a fourth motor would shrink that feature further.

Still, the tri-motor delivers. Its handling is superb, and drivers will have great control over their ride due in part to adaptive dampers and air suspension. Beyond eye-popping stats, here’s what else the Tesla Model S Plaid delivers.

The Tesla Model S Plaid’s features

In addition to its handsome exterior, the Tesla Model S Plaid’s interior is luxurious and filled with amenities. It is, in case you were wondering, plaid-free. However, from the carbon fiber to the aluminum to the upholstery, the material is all premium and quite elegant. The interior is roomy with copious front, rear, and headroom. However, its cargo space remains average, with a trunk with 25 cubic feet of storage space and a frunk that’s 3.1 cubic feet. You may also notice a lack of air vents, but don’t worry. One of this model’s cool design features is that its air vents are hidden and can be adjusted through the infotainment screen’s climate controls.

The infotainment system is Tesla’s standard 17 inches, with a tablet-like upgrade designed to be more intuitive. Additionally, the Tesla Model S Plaid has two infotainment systems: one in the front and one in the back. Both of these screens can stream content and adjust the climate controls. The center console is abutted by two phone chargers, two USB-C outlets and includes cupholders and additional storage space. The Model S Plaid also comes with a 22-speaker sound system, among other amenities.

There’s also the steering wheel to consider. The Tesla Model S Plaid comes with a steering yoke rather than a wheel. The yoke resembles a rectangle with rounded edges, and it comes standard with all Model S series vehicles. The yoke is polarizing, and some auto industry experts think it presents a safety risk. However, if you’re looking for the massive performance metrics, the Tesla Model S Plaid provides, it’s a feature you’ll have to get used to and one that may well be worth the growing pains.


2022 Tesla Model S Plaid Records Unreal 0-60 MPH Time