Tesla officially launched Plaid Track Mode - a special Track Mode for the Tesla Model S Plaid, which was hinted at in December, as part of the 2021.44.30 over-the-air software update.
According to the manufacturer, the Plaid Track Mode is rolling out to Model S Plaid vehicles across North America with a simple goal to "achieve the quickest lap time for a production electric vehicle at Germany’s Nürburgring, and allow individual adjustability of stability control, handling balance and regenerative braking to give drivers more authority over vehicle control at the racetrack."
By the way, Tesla Model S Plaid set a new record for production electric cars on the Nürburgring Nordschleife track (the 20.8-kilometer course) in Germany.
Let's recall that previously the Tesla Model 3 Performance cars received Track Model in 2018, which was later updated in 2020.
The company highlights several main features of Plaid Track Mode (see at the bottom of this post), which is promised to take full advantage of the tri-motor platform (one motor in the front and two motors for independent propulsion of the rear wheels).
Enabling the Plaid Track Mode will trigger a performance-oriented cooling strategy for the battery, drive units and brakes. The car will simply try to achieve maximum track endurance through cooling down the components "to create a significant amount of chilled thermal mass."
The brakes should perform better because the regenerative braking power will be increased:
"...has three major benefits: re-capture more energy during deceleration, reduce load on the friction brakes for better thermal management, and give the driver better modulation and controllability with a single pedal."
A very important part of Plaid Track Mode is torque vectoring, between the front and rear axle, as well as between the rear wheels, which is now possible thanks to two electric motors in the rear.
Tesla mentions also new adjustable vehicle dynamics, including changes to the regenerative braking, adaptive suspension damping and a new Performance UI with a track-focused user interface to provide critical performance data, including:
- a vehicle thermals monitor
- lap timer
- dashcam video capture
- vehicle telemetry
- along with several other customizable options
With Plaid Track Mode, the Tesla Model S Plaid is expected to be "as quick around a racetrack as it is at the drag strip" with greater driver control and adjustability. In the future, the new mode may be further updated over the air.
One of the things that were noted by users is a higher top speed of 175 mph (282 km/h), compared to 163 mph (262 km/h) available previously, although the ultimate top speed of the Plaid will be 200 mph (322 km/h). That speed has not yet been unlocked.
However, it's important to note that the stock brakes of the Tesla Model S Plaid were criticized as not good enough for track use (see Throttle House video and Speed Academy video), so it would be great to buy a special kit for the purpose.
The Drag Strip Mode can be combined with the Plaid Track Mode:
An interesting overview of the Plaid Track Mode was shared by Carmine’s Import Service YouTube channel:
Plaid Track Mode info:
Optimized Powertrain Cooling
Track driving generates an enormous amount of heat in the battery, motors, and brakes. Maximum track endurance is achieved by managing this heat to keep these components as cool as possible.
When Plaid Track Mode is engaged, we drop the temperature of the battery pack and motors to create a significant amount of chilled thermal mass. Once track driving begins and heat is generated, shared coolant loops between the battery and motors keep the entire system cooler for longer.
We also increase regenerative braking power, which has three major benefits: re-capture more energy during deceleration, reduce load on the friction brakes for better thermal management, and give the driver better modulation and controllability with a single pedal.
Lateral Torque Vectoring
Using the same foundation as Model 3 Track Mode, Plaid Track Mode relies heavily on front and rear motors to command rotation: additional torque applied to the rear axle helps turn the nose of the car into a corner; torque applied to the front axle arrests rotation to pull the car straight.
Building on this principle, Model S Plaid’s dual rear motors enable full lateral torque vectoring. With Track Mode activated, Plaid automatically adjusts torque split across the rear wheels, independently, which applies a torque bias to rotate the car through turns; this increases turn-in response, improves on-center steering feel, and delivers even greater yaw control throughout a corner.
Compared to traditional open- and limited-slip differentials, which must always compete between turn-in response and maximum traction, our electric motors adjust in milliseconds to give the driver both qualities simultaneously, allowing for faster turn-in, increased cornering speeds, and harder acceleration on corner exit.
Adjustable Vehicle Dynamics
During normal road driving, our stability control systems are optimized to limit tire slippage and maximize grip to keep the driver safe.
In Plaid Track Mode, stability controls enter a Race tuning to give the driver maximum control over the car’s lateral movement. With Plaid Track Mode engaged, Tesla’s Vehicle Dynamics Controller (VDC) evaluates steering angle, accelerator, and brake pedal inputs to determine where the driver wants to place the car and will permit tire slippage and automatically adjust torque split to give the driver even more authority and improved agility during high-speed cornering.
For drivers who want additional adjustability over vehicle dynamics, handling balance, stability assist and regenerative braking can be changed independently based on their skill level and preferences.
Adaptive Suspension Damping
When Plaid Track Mode is engaged, adaptive suspension damping is optimized for track handling: reduced pitch during hard braking and fast acceleration, rebalanced damping to improve responsiveness, and faster settling of vehicle disturbances over bumpy segments to increase driver confidence. To facilitate consistent dynamic driving, ride height is set to Low on drive-off, and the suspension will no longer automatically raise to improve comfort.
We have added a track-focused user interface to provide critical performance data, including a vehicle thermals monitor, lap timer, G-meter, dashcam video capture and vehicle telemetry, along with several other customizable options.