What is Maximum Plaid?
Never one to shy away from his nerdy impulses, Elon Musk named the launch mode in performance model Teslas “ludicrous mode” in homage to the movie Spaceballs. Doubling down on this, he’s referring to the next more ludicrous than ludicrous mode as “maximum plaid” – another reference to Spaceballs.
If you’ve seen Star Wars you are familiar the representation of light speed, which is the stars before you turning to streaks of light. Plaid is when you are going so fast the streaks form a grid!
In a 2016 Twitter post, Elon made reference to plaid being a mode reserved for the next generation Roadster. The car is reputed to come with a 1.9s zero to 60 time, so yeah, plaid indeed.
So, quarter mile mode?
Here’s what I am imagining. You pull up to the Christmas tree lights at a drag strip. You select ludicrous mode. The car helpfully points out that you are lined up at a drag strip based on GPS data and offers you quarter mile mode.
Select it, and the screen instructors the occupants to cross their arms, put their feet on the floor and cinch their seatbelts. The car’s cameras will automatically monitor the Christmas tree for when the race starts, launch instantly in ludicrous mode and steer all the way to the end of the track.
Sure, it’s not fair, but it’s a hell of a demonstration of all the unique features of the car.
Reverse quarter mile?
Even sillier would be following all the same steps but facing the wrong way at the track. The car could automatically ready itself to do the quarter mile in reverse.
Electric motors can be just as fast in reverse as forward, so the powertrain won’t have difficulty with this. I assume the car would be less aerodynamic so the time would be slower. Also, cars are set up to be stable in the forward direction (the front wheels are toed in, for example) but I imagine autopilot is quick reflexed enough to keep it on the straight and narrow.
The real limitation is the meatbag in the driver’s seat, who will surely get whiplash facing backwards when the car takes off. They may need to slow the launch a little, or introduce a head and neck support to go with a helmet.
I’d love to see a demo of this with no driver at all. The car will certainly be capable of it with a little software work.