Electric Cars
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Elon Musk is chasing lap time records with a new, faster Tesla ‘Model S Plaid’

Tesla already claims to have toppled Laguna Seca sedan lap record, and now has Porsche's Nurburgring time in sight.

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Setting lap records is par for the course in the performance car industry, with manufacturers announcing faster times on a seemingly weekly basis.

Most recently, Porsche claimed a new lap record of the famous Nurburgring Nordschleife, for the somewhat niche category of a four-door electric car. The company's new Taycan Turbo S set a time of 7min42sec.

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This caught the attention of Tesla boss Elon Musk, who announced just days later that a newer, faster version of the company's Model S had beaten the record for a four-door sedan at the Laguna Seca racetrack in California. That time was 1:36.555, a second quicker than the previous record, held by the Jaguar XE SV Project 8.

Tesla says the record lap was completed "during advanced R&D testing of our Model S Plaid powertrain and chassis prototype".

Musk has long said that the next step in his cars' performance would be from the current Ludicrous mode, to Plaid - both references to the movie Spaceballs. He had previously said Plaid would be saved for the 2020 Tesla Roadster, but now seems to have changed his mind.

Musk later said on Twitter: "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."

By competitors, Musk is likely referring to the Porsche Taycan Turbo S, which costs from $185,000, approximately $80,000 more than a top-of-the-range Model S today.

Next up on Musk's list is the Nurburgring Nordschleife, a 16-mile racetrack in Germany used by almost all car manufacturers for testing new vehicles and setting lap records to brag about.

The Taycan Turbo S recently set a time of 7min42sec, and now Musk wants to beat that. A Model S P100D has been spotted in the local area, but it is far from stock. Photos show the car has a larger air intake at the front to help with cooling, wider wheel arches, a larger lip spoiler on the trunk - and most obvious of all, a set of what are claimed to be Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R tires.

Although street legal, these tires are semi-slick, designed for use on the race track, and offer poor grip in wet conditions and when cold.

In short, if Tesla uses this car to set a Nurburgring Nordschleife lap time, it will be difficult to compare its abilities to the stock Taycan Turbo S used by Porsche.

Musk acknowledged that changes were being made to the Model S, tweeting on September 11: "We probably won't try for best lap time this week, as we need to review and tune Model S thoroughly for safety on Nurburgring".

He also added that a lap time would be set by the Roadster in 2020, but gave no further details.

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