Tesla Model S Plaid gears up for Mt. Washington Race, Part 1 – Exclusive!


A brand new Tesla Model S Plaid is being prepared near my home for the Mount Washington Hillclimb auto race. Electric Performance’s Blake Fuller will pilot the vehicle, which will be the first electric vehicle to compete in the Mount Washington Hillclimb auto race. I spent an hour with Blake at the end of his day in the garage today (uh … yesterday, technically) and then quickly put together the next 17 minute video of our conversation and the torn Model S Plaid.

There is a lot more detail and tidbit in the video than I will attempt to summarize here, but here are some of the highlights.

First of all, know that Blake has a few racing records to his name. He was the youngest rookie of the year at Pikes Peak Hill Climb when he won that award in 18 years, and he currently holds the record for best time at Pikes Peak in a production electric vehicle. He’s also a tech scholar, and he invented the first lithium-ion starter battery after founding Braille Battery (which he eventually sold). “Blake’s batteries power professional race cars around the world and are found in every IndyCar, V8 Supercar, DTM racer and thousands of other vehicles,” notes his site.

Mount Washington, located in New Hampshire, is the highest peak in the Northeastern United States, making it a famous location for adventurous race car drivers. As stated above, however, no electric car has ever tried to beat the competition in the Mount Washington Hillclimb auto race. In less than a week that will change, as a Model S Plaid delivered to Blake less than a week ago will brave the course and attempt to beat fossil-fueled race cars of all kinds prepared and driven by teams of professional race. Can Blake beat them all?

This Model S Plaid stayed in its crisp, factory-finished shape for just 20 hours after delivery before Blake and his pals began to take it apart to prepare it for the race. I arrived at the scene two days later to capture the above video clips and get a summary of the plan and information on Blake’s new Model S Plaid.

Blake noted that while the revamped Model S Plaid looks quite similar to the previous version of the Model S on the outside, when you go into the details a lot has changed. He estimates that 90% of the parts in the vehicle are different. Some of the changes he highlighted: The door panels are significantly lighter and simpler. While there are 5 electronic connections on each door of its 2015 Tesla Model S Ludicrous, there is only one on each door now. Dismantling a door now takes him about 10 minutes instead of 20 to 30 minutes. The reduced time to build, assemble or maintain the doors must add up significantly when you consider the number of cars Tesla produces per year now. As Elon pointed out much more in 2019, cutting a single car’s production time by a few seconds can save a lot of money when you produce half a million, a million, or a few million cars a year. Chanan Bos even made a fun graphic highlighting this point because it is so important.

If saving a few seconds per car is huge, imagine what it means to save 10 to 20 minutes on each door. (Of course, this probably isn’t a 10-20 minute saving in production time, but the point is, this is clearly a noticeable improvement that should save Tesla a lot of time and money.) Blake also pointed out that the material is of a much better quality and that these door panels (not including the outside part of the door, as you can see if you watch the video) weigh around half of those of its Model S.

Blake and his team also weighed the vehicle as a whole and found it to weigh 400 pounds less than the previous generation Model S – a 10% weight reduction, which is quite significant and Blake noted that that’s part of why you get a little more autonomy. in this new version. One key is that Tesla used much of what it learned and improved from the series production of the Model 3 and Model Y to simplify and cut costs on the Model S, and that also enabled it to improve other parts of the car without consumers. notice an increase in the prices of these better parts. (Of course, Tesla has been raising the price lately anyway due to very high demand and limited supply.)

Since it has been removed from the car for now, we’ve also gotten a close-up of the connector from the charging port to the car’s large battery / inverter, which Blake says has been significantly improved over this. which is in his Model S Ludicrous. It’s lighter (“probably 5 to 8 pounds lighter”), is more tightly and better packed together, is made of aluminum that is easier to stamp, “probably carries a lot more current”, cools better and probably lasts longer .

Another change you certainly haven’t seen mentioned elsewhere: The Model S now has a much stronger aluminum frame rail than the previous frame rail, and it especially benefits from a canvas-like design at the bottom. middle you can see 15:24 seconds in the video. The greater structural rigidity is expected to further enhance driver and passenger safety in the Model S – raising the bar even further (no pun intended) on what Tesla Technoking Elon Musk has repeatedly said is the # 1 priority of Tesla (security).

As for the fork flywheel, the best way to put it is that Blake is not a fan. He says he has a swear-filled video about it that he’ll share, while the toned down version of it is that he says “the yoke is a joke”. The main problem is that you can’t make big, tight, fast turns with that much smoothness or safety. An important step tomorrow will be to remove the steering wheel from my Model 3 and see if it fits in the Model S Plaid. If so, I may be experiencing the yoke of leadership for a week in my Model 3 SR +, or it will simply order a steering wheel online to fit into the car. You can see more of Blake’s reviews of the leadership yoke in the video (it’s 4:30 am-6:00pm in the video above).

The Model S Plaid’s suspension and drivetrain will be fully stock for the Mount Washington Hillclimb auto race. However, all the noise you see in the video is focused on installing a racing seat and roll bar with the seat already in place. An interesting thing Blake notes is that many of Tesla’s sensors are located in places the roll cage needs to go. So they have to unhook and remove these sensors in order to prepare for the car race, then once everything is set, turn the car back on and hope that there won’t be any annoying errors or notifications from the car not detecting. the sensors or getting picky about the rear seats that aren’t up or something. We’ll see what sort of things show up on the touchscreen in a few days when the car is turned back on. Blake will also need to explore the accessibility of key controls on the touchscreen when securely strapped to the driver’s seat.

Do you have other features of the interior of the car that interest you? Questions you want to ask or close-ups of which you want photos? Leave us a comment below and we’ll do our best to provide answers or photos. I will be posting one article per day on this project for next week.

Also note that Blake is trying to raise money to fund this project, to help buy the car in the long run, and to help get the car into more races in the US in the future. If you would like to participate, you can do so here. The two main options at the moment are to get your name / sticker on the car for a cost of $ 200 or an “I helped Tesla Race Mt. Washington bumper sticker for $ 20.

Here are some more photos of the Model S Plaid teardown as it looks today:

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