However, since tuning the powertrain of a Tesla isn’t exactly an option, the only way left to increase the car’s performance is by tweaking all the other components. You can put better tires, for example, or you can have a go at the suspension, but if it’s straight-line performance you’re after, nothing beats the good old art of stripping down as much of the vehicle as possible.
We’ve seen just how big of a difference removing the interior can make with the “old” Model S Performance. Those willing to sacrifice the EV in their quest for the best possible time (or for spanking unsuspecting V8-powered builds who thought themselves invincible) saw their times drop in the very low tens, which was a great achievement back then.
With the release of the Plaid, though, the game has been brought to a whole new level, and with it, so has the target time. The Model S Plaid is perfectly capable of dropping below 9.4 seconds straight out of the factory, with several runs in the mid-9.2s clocked already (one of them with Jay Leno behind the half-wheel, actually).
That means pushing the boundaries means dropping significantly lower than that. Hitting the 8.9s doesn’t seem impossible, though it will require a lot of work and near-perfect conditions to happen. Sooner or later, though, it will happen.
One man who’s on a mission to do it is Chet from “Chillin’ with Chet”. After having most of the interior stripped for the partially failed attempt to turn the EV into a submersible, Chet made the sensible decision of using the car for a new quarter mile record.
With Chet in command, the Plaid ran the benchmark distance in 9.39 seconds with a trap speed of 150.93 mph. But Chet is a relatively big guy (240 lbs, on his account, which is about 110 kg), so just by replacing the driver, they instantly shaved 90 lbs off the Model S’ total weight. And the result was equally instant: a 9.22 pass at 151.13 mph.
There was room for more, though – well, technically, less. With the driver sorted, they went on to remove the trailer hitch as well as the door panels, the headliner in the rear, the subwoofer, and pretty much everything else they could get their hands – and pneumatic drills – on. Time for another pass.
9.11 and 153.71 mpg. Impressive, but the team felt it could be improved upon with just a simple tweak: charging the battery all the way up. Indeed, it’s a well-known fact that Teslas – as well as other EVs – will perform better at full charge (or at least as close to it as possible), so the hopes around the next pass were pretty high.
With the sun gone, the Plaid returns to the drag strip and, wouldn’t you know it, runs the quarter mile in 9.09 seconds. That’s agonizingly close (0.01 seconds) to what is, as far as we know, the current record for a Plaid: 9.08 seconds. The trap speed, however, was significantly lower than on the previous pass: 151.15 mph.
With time for one more go, the Plaid launches forward one more time, but all it manages to do is demonstrate just how robotically consistent the Model S can be. It ran an identical time of 9.09 seconds with a marginally quicker trap speed that was just a 0.23 mph improvement over the last one.
With numbers like these, however, you can just feel that elusive eight-second run is just around the corner. Shaving off hundredths of a second at this level, however, is a lot more difficult than it may seem, especially since taking even more stuff out doesn’t seem to help as the lower weight appears to affect the Plaid’s performance at higher speeds.