A Quad-Motor Model S Is Possible, But Tesla Didn’t Build It

Elon Musk famously named the new tri-motor, high-performance variant of the 2022 Tesla Model S the “Plaid” because like the movie Spaceballs says, it’s the only step beyond “Ludicrous,” the previous top-dog in the Model S lineup. Well what if there is a step beyond Plaid and the cancelled Plaid+? According to a source at the company, there’s no reason why Tesla couldn’t make a quad-motor Model S if it wanted to.

Why Would Tesla Want to Make a Quad-Motor Model S?

Two reasons primarily: more power and more traction, which could potentially improve the Model S’ launch, and actually give it a sub-2.0-second 0-60 mph time without any gimmicks. According to the below cutaway, as the Model S Plaid is currently laid out it has two motors at the rear axle driving each rear wheel, and one at the front axle, arranged to primarily drive the front-right wheel.

These carbon-sleeved motors are identical, says our source, and are good for a total system output of 1,020 hp and 1,050 lb-ft of torque. That means each one produces around 340 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque.

Adding an additional front motor to the Model S would in theory boost horsepower to 1,360, and torque to 1,400 lb-ft, with the added weight of the motor (plus the drive force of the motor itself) possibly helping give the car better traction and performance.

Why Didn’t Tesla Make a Quad-Motor Model S?

As our source put it, Tesla simply didn’t feel the need to make a quad-motor Model S. The Model S Plaid’s dual-motor rear drive unit would fit on the front axle, but it would further shrink an already smaller frunk and make the car less efficient, while adding cost and complexity. Our source also pointed out that the Model S Plaid was already at the bleeding edge of the performance envelope, making it a riskier proposition to develop the automaker’s first-ever quad-motor system.

The Model S Plaid’s current tri-motor system is expected to be available on both the Cybertruck and Roadster, if either ever reaches production. Rivian appears like it will be the first automaker to market with a quad-motor system, which comes standard on its R1T and R1S pickup and SUV. GM isn’t far behind. The GMC Hummer EV Pickup will also feature a quad-motor powertrain when it goes on sale late this year.

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