The official street production electric car quarter-mile record, as documented by the National Electric Drag Racing Association (NEDRA), has stood at 11.244 seconds since January of this year. Now, though, a video has emerged showing the recently refreshed version of a Tesla Model S P90D with Ludicrous mode doing the deed in a stunning 10.804 seconds at Rockingham Dragway in North Carolina, crossing the line at 121.99 miles per hour. The feat brings up a couple of issues.
When Motor Trend first got its hands on the Ludicrous P90D in October of last year, it published a quarter-mile time of 10.9 seconds, and ever since, owners have been trying to replicate or beat – preferably beat – that remarkable time. Until now, they had been unsuccessful. This is where the conspiracy theories kick in.
According to some enthusiasts on the Tesla Motors Club forum, the power output of the 90-kWh battery increased earlier this year, perhaps in conjunction with the Model S refresh in April, reportedly allowing the motors to put out 50 to 70 additional horsepower. Theoretically, this would enable the all-electric sedan to shave enough time to get into the 10-second range, and now this recent record run is being held up as indisputable proof.
Others, though, argue that the time improvement comes down to lower weight on this particular car – no heavy panoramic roof or other burdensome options, along with a svelte driver. Without the aid of a dynamometer or a heads-up comparison with an older Model S, we can not definitively say whether or not this is actually the case. For its part, a Tesla representative tells AutoblogGreen that it "...can't confirm any changes. Horsepower and torque ratings for Model S P90D with Ludicrous remain as stated on our website."
We should note that weather conditions also have an effect on track performance, even for EVs. Things like tire choice, air pressures, track temp and even which way the wind is blowing will . Also, Motor Trend subtracts one foot of rollout in its acceleration tests to simulate a dragstrip launch, and the magazine also rounds to the nearest tenth, which would put this new "record" within hundredths of the publication's results for a pre-refresh car.
The other issue surrounding this run relates to officiality. While the poster of the video has substantial enough proof of doing the deed, it's quite possible this will not become an official NEDRA record. Why not? Well, let's just say that among the 60 videos on his Tesla Racing Channel there may be incriminating evidence of possible illegal activities, such as street racing. We've reached out to ask whether he would like to be identified, and whether he will seek NEDRA's blessings, and will update this post if we get a response.
Regardless of the various issues, one thing is clear. It is possible to get a sub-11-second quarter-mile time in the Tesla Model S. Less clear is whether you have to buy the recently refreshed version, or just put yourself (and your car) on a diet to do it. Or maybe both.