Tesla set a new lap record for a production electric vehicle at Germany’s famed Nürburgring race course. A brand-new Model S Plaid completed the 12.9-mile lap in seven minutes and 30.9 seconds, beating a record set in 2019 by a Porsche Taycan by 12 seconds. The new record was confirmed by Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Twitter.
According to Musk, the Model S Plaid was “completely unmodified, [and] directly from [the] factory.” In a follow-up tweet, he said Tesla would take another crack at the Nürburgring using a “modified Plaid with added aero surfaces, carbon brakes & track tires (all things that can be done without Tesla being in the loop).”
How important a record this is for Tesla, or any automaker for that matter, is certainly up for debate. In setting the initial record, Porsche was basically creating a new category in which to compete. As noted by The Verge’s motorsports expert Sean O’Kane in 2019:
Automakers love bragging rights, and the Nürburgring’s Nordschleife course is one of the prime battlegrounds. But over the years, the limits of the track have mostly been explored, and so there’s not as much rarefied air left for companies who want to claim they were the fastest around the 12.9-mile course.
This isn’t the first time that Tesla has set out to conquer the “Green Hell.” The company has run prototype versions of its Model S Plaid around the famous race track in the lead-up to its debut as a production model. Those runs weren’t attempts to break any records, though, as Musk has called them opportunities to “review and tune” the Model S Plaid for safety.
The Model S Plaid is powered by a new tri-motor drivetrain that collectively put down around 1,000 horsepower, and the car can reach a top speed of 200 miles per hour — though only when outfitted with certain wheels and tires that won’t be available until later this year.
But expert car reviewers are not convinced that the Plaid is worth its price tag of $130,000. After putting the new Model S through extensive tests, Edmunds concluded that it was just a “marketing exercise designed to draw attention to an aging car.”
The question is what will Porsche do now. The German automaker isn’t likely to sit back and allow Tesla to just steal its made-up record without some sort of response. The problem, of course, is that the Taycan just isn’t as quick as the Model S Plaid. Just look at the scoreboard.