Conventional Cars Ludicrous Tesla Is Quickest Production Car In History (By Some Standards)

Published on July 18th, 2015 | by Zachary Shahan

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Ludicrous Tesla Is Quickest Production Car In History (By Some Standards)

July 18th, 2015 by  
 

Edit: You can now add the Caterham 7 620 R, Bugatti Veyron Supersport, and Nissan GT-R NISMOto the list, thanks to the new Model S P100D option. The text below has been modified accordingly.

Elon Musk announced yesterday that an upgrade to the Tesla Model S can give it a “Ludicrous” option that propels the electric sedan from 0 to 60 mph in just 2.8 seconds. Ludicrous, indeed… but let’s put this into some context.

First of all, there are only 2 “production” cars that have a 0-60 time claimed by their manufacturer to be quicker than that:

  • The Ariel Atom V8, a two-seater without a roof — and a lot of other things — that it’s hard to claim is a production car. A couple dozen or so were reportedly produced.
  • The Bugatti Veyron Supersport, World Record Edition, a super car that cost a few million dollars. 5 were produced.
  • The Porsche 918 Spyder, a two-seat plug-in hybrid sports car whose production run just ended after the 918th was produced. The starting price was nearly $1 million.
  • The Caparo T1, which is basically a racing car with a design modeled after Formula 1 cars. A dozen or two, give or take, were produced.
  • The Nissan GT-R NISMO has a starting MSRP close in price to the top-end Tesla Model S fully loaded. Still it doesn’t have instant torque.
  • The SSC Ultimate Aero TT, a 2-door supercar that cost a few hundred thousand dollars or so. 15 or so were produced.
  • The Caterham 7 620 R, which is again a far stretch from what many of us would call a production car. It’s actually a kit car.

Yep, aside from the first and last (very bare-bones vehicles), each of those cars cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars more than the Tesla Model S. Yep, none of those cars seat 7 people (I don’t think any of them even seat 5), or have nearly as much interior or storage space as the Model S. Yep, the Tesla Model S is more efficient… many times over.

But getting back to acceleration, let’s also remember that the Tesla is the only one with “instant torque.” While the other cars need a little bit of time for their full power to rev up and kick in, the ludicrous Tesla Model S has it all right there off the line. That means that the Tesla can actually smoke those other 7 cars in the initial sprint, probably even beating all of them to 30 mph. In my opinion, that actually makes the Tesla Model S the quickest production car in the world, the quickest in history.

By the way, utilizing the much slower Nissan Leaf and a typical gasoline car to show the difference in acceleration between an electric car and a gasoline one, I think this graph is worth sharing:

instant torque graph

Of course, manufacturer 0–60 times are not always the quickest the car can do. Looking at the fastest accelerating production cars based on both manufacturer and independent tests, there are 12 production cars that can get to 60 mph in under 2.8 seconds. That’s not to say the Model S won’t be tested going to 60 in under 2.8 seconds. It probably will.

In any case, no other car on this list provides the interior space or practicality of a Tesla Model S, and no other car on this list has full instant torque. There is simply no comparison. The ludicrous Tesla Model S is in a league of its own.

Unfortunately, that means that my Tesla P85D test drive and reaction videos are already a little out of date.

Queue the next round of racing and reaction videos…


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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.



  • James Rowland

    Caterham do normally build their cars for you; the kit form is a same-price option.

    There’s no traction control or launch system on any of the Caterham cars, so 2.8s is hard to achieve consistently in practice.

    The only time I’ve ever seen one face off against a P85D, it was too close to call despite the supposed 0.3s handicap. The Tesla was definitely off the line faster. The Caterham then caught up but couldn’t quite pass in time – presumably that’s the bad aerodynamics.

    • Thanks for the extra perspective! And now I need to search out some of these videos… 😀

  • Kompani

    My 12 year old diesel saloon car is the fastest car in history (by some standards).

    • Haha. I don’t think so. 😀

    • AaronD12

      What standard is that? Fastest to make women run away from you?

  • Shiggity

    You still need ICE for top speed. Electric is better at everything else.

    The new ‘superhybrid’ cars like the Porsche 918 look like a combination of the two lines from the graph. Best of both worlds, but very spendy. The Koenissig Regera and the La Ferrari are two more examples.

    • James Rowland

      You might have to rethink that assessment when next-gen electric sports cars appear.

      Model S is hardly optimised for performance. Put that powertrain in a smaller, lighter chassis and you will be able to have different windings and/or longer gearing without losing low-speed acceleration.

      Alternatively, you could resurrect the 2-speed transmission idea – this time with decent engineering. It won’t even need a clutch; the PEM will be able to sync motor to road speed perfectly in milliseconds.

      There’s also something called multi-phase harmonic drive, which is essentially a (patented) way of changing the current to p.d. ratio as though you had different windings, just by switching inverter modes. In practice it works a lot like having a gearbox – or an oversized inverter – without the physical penalty.

      I’d be surprised if Tesla go for the latter though; they can probably do it all with their own tech.

      Not that ultimate top speed is that useful in a road car, but when you absolutely have to have the best bragging rights, electric can deliver.

      I look forward to seeing what Maximum Plaid can do. 🙂

  • Marcel

    Despite what many claim about gearboxes, I think this car would become unbeatable with a gearbox… No more issues competing with a Ferrari to 300 km/h…

    • AaronD12

      Remember: The first batches of Tesla Roadsters had two-speed transmissions. Tesla thought the same thing as you, until the transmissions kept failing from the instant torque. No thank you, I’ll keep my transmission-less EV, even if it means a little less efficiency. I prefer low maintenance, low cost, and low complexity.

      • Marcel

        You’re generalising based on one example. I’m sure there were plenty of failing ICE transmissions until they figured out how to make them more resilient. The Bugatti Veyron GSV has more torque than the P85D yet the 7 speed DSG gearbox handles it without any issues.

  • Zoomit

    “In my opinion, that actually makes the Tesla Model S the quickest production car in the world, the quickest in history”

    Zach–We expected better!! You don’t even mention the Ferrari LaFerrari, Lamborghini Huracan or Aventador, and McLaren P1. To rarified? How about the Porsche 911 Turbo S or Nissan GT-R NISMO?

    Is the Model S the quickest sedan to 60 mph, absolutely. Is it the quickest car to 30 mph, very possibly. Quickest production car in history? Absolute hogwash.

  • Jim Seko

    And the sound system goes up to eleven.

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