- Image from Engadget

Here's why Tesla's Nurburgring challenge was nothing more than a huge mess

After all the controversies it stirred, Tesla's silent again

39w ago

30.4K

This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.

Image from Pressfrom.info

Image from Pressfrom.info

It has been about three months since Tesla’s Frankenstein monster has appeared on the Nurburgring under the rather ambitious goal to beat the Porsche Taycan’s record. To challenge Weissach’s latest electric weapon, Tesla modified their Model S by adding an extra motor, fender flares, racing brakes, massive spoilers, and a ‘Plaid’ badge.

Image from Elektrek

Image from Elektrek

As expected, the whole automotive community went viral. However, thanks to Tesla’s rather bold statement of beating the king of the ‘Ring’, most considered is as another publicity stunt. Yes, Tesla is an innovator in EV technology, but it was evident that the 70 years of experience Porsche gained in the Green Hell will not just be covered by adding another motor in the powertrain. Furthermore, the whole Tesla Model S Plaid being nothing close to a production vehicle even sparked more controversy.

Image from Pressfrom.info

Image from Pressfrom.info

Soon, unofficial claims that Tesla had beaten Taycan’s 7:42 record by 19 seconds were all over the place, making headlines in numerous automotive websites. Still, Tesla remained silent, neither approving nor disapproving the independent claims of spotters on the Nurburgring. Soon Tesla fanboys struck back, whether it was Twitter or Drivetribe, shouting out how Jalopnik and automotive journalists’(including me XD) opinion that Tesla will not be able to beat the record was pure nonsense.

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A few days later, a video was uploaded on Twitter, and it became a game-changer. Yes, until yesterday, people were exalting how Tesla not only managed not to enter ‘limp mode’ but rather broke the Nurburgring record for 4 door EVs. But now, after the record-breaking Model S breaking down in the middle of a hot lap, it became obvious that the Tesla Model S Plaid needed improvement. To make things worse for Elon and Tesla, a Porsche Taycan lapped the Model S Plaid, gaining enormous cult in the automotive community.

It was quite lucky for Tesla as the ‘passing-by’ Taycan’s driver did not decide to honk a few times or even wave a Porsche flag and to prevent their stocks from further plummeting, Elon and Tesla decided to make the move. Tesla officially claimed that their data proves that the Model S can lap the Nurburgring in 7 minutes and 20 seconds. However, no onboard footages were provided, and it was not necessarily a ‘claim’ but rather a well calculated ‘prediction’.

Image from Teslarati

Image from Teslarati

Tesla announced that they will be coming back to the Nurburgring next month(November) for a 7:05 record. Soon, even more extreme versions of the Model S Plaid showed up with massive splitters and rear wings. Surprisingly, nothing much has been heard from Tesla nor automotive sources since then. In the status quo, it is even unsure whether the Tesla crew is still at the Nurburgring conducting tests.

Image from Business Insider

Image from Business Insider

This sudden ‘end’ to their challenge definitely sparks some questions and here’s my answer to it. Yes, it was obviously a publicity stunt. Tesla regularly ‘promotes’ new ‘content’ every month to keep their stocks high. For example, before the Nurburgring stunt, they released footages of Model Y's testing, and after the Nurburgring challenge, they released the Cybertruck and Elon driving it around town. As the Cybertruck was planned to be revealed in December, there was no reason for Tesla to keep their rather ‘unsuccessful’ Nurburgring challenge on the media.

Image from Evannex

Image from Evannex

Wait, if you want to ask me why I worded it ‘unsuccessful’, here is the thing. At the end of the day, Tesla claimed NOTHING. No official records were released, nor onboard footages and all we got was some data that ‘indicates’ that the Model S Plaid has the potential to do a 7:20. As expected, Elon once again proudly stated that they would return to the Ring for a 7:05 record, but we hear not a word from Elon about the Nurburgring effort.

Image from WSupercars

Image from WSupercars

Furthermore, we should always be careful with lap time predictions. For example, it was predicted that the C7 ZR1 would do a sub-7-minute lap in the Nurburging. However, the best it could do was 7:04, which was definitely not GM nor Corvette fans expected. The same thing happened when BMW decided to set a lap record with their F1 car, where they came nowhere close to their speculation.

Image from Twitter

Image from Twitter

At the end of the day...

To conclude, Tesla’s Nurburgring efforts have been a colossal mess. Firstly, the introduction of a new high-end model affected the sales of Performance variants of the current Tesla lineup. When considering the fact that the Plaid will come in 2020, it has been a bit of an early release. Secondly, by breaking down at the Nurburgring, it gained even more negative publicity. I am not saying that the Porsche Taycan is Adamantium, but at least they did not break down in public. Overall, the whole Model S Plaid’s Nurburgring challenge was a rushed move from Tesla, thus only resulting in adverse effects.

Image from Pinterest

Image from Pinterest

What the automotive community expected when Tesla challenged Porsche was a proper rivalry like Ford and Ferrari at Le Mans. Sadly, what we got was a desperate move from Elon Musk and Tesla, who sent a Frankenstein Model S Plaid to the Nurburgring to complete with a stock Taycan, only to break down. Breaking the record would have definitely ‘diminished’ some of these negative issues, but Tesla did not break the record in any means.

Image from Wallpaper Access

Image from Wallpaper Access

This whole ‘Nurburgring Challenge’ media stunt done by Tesla shows the limits of Tesla itself. I do admit the fact that Tesla has grown into a somewhat stable corporation instead of a startup. Regardless, one can easily spot that Tesla’s decisions are driven by their stock price and cash balance. I’m not saying that it is a bad thing, but for long-term growth, that is hardly ideal. Thankfully, for Tesla, it had not mattered much until now.

Image from Tesla

Image from Tesla

Tesla had $5.3 billion in cash and equivalents at the end of the third quarter. Although it might seem like a reasonable reserve, that is not probably enough to fund everything that Tesla had proudly ‘promised’ to deliver. They still have the Model Y, Semi, Roadster, a factory in China, Cybertruck, and tons of other stuff due, and if they fail to do so, it will undoubtedly affect their stock prices. And their answer to solving this problem, or at least in the short term, was the Cybertruck.

Image from Tesla

Image from Tesla

The Cybertruck had a rather low pre-order deposit of only $100, compared to the $2,500 deposit required for the Model Y. Therefore, they were able to get more than 200,000 pre-orders in just a few days. The cash they had acquired through the Cybertruck pre-order is trivial, but the pre-order stats are more of a ‘jump start’ to increase their stock sales. Data proves that TSLA prices have risen significantly after the “200k” tweet and videos of a Cybertruck pulling an F150.

Image from The Motley Fool

Image from The Motley Fool

Tesla wants to convince stockholders and investment banks that they are a ‘sustainable’ business and their stocks are at their all-time highs of $400+. Yes, what Tesla achieved in less than 20 years must be acknowledged and applauded. Nevertheless, unless they compete with ‘real world’ quality and performance, they will end up being a short-term ‘fad’ in the 2010s motor industry, as major corporations like VW AG and Daimler are ready to strike back.

Tesla, well done for surviving this decade. But to survive the next one, you’d better be prepared.

Don't forget to BUMP and COMMENT, those are the high octane fuel for me!

Also, check out my past analyses on Tesla's Nurburgring challenge too!

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Comments (64)

  • To sum it up, let me show you this meme my dearest wife sent me this morning:

      9 months ago
    • I must admit both GT-R and Supra fanbases are quite toxic(of course not all... there are some good lads out there), but I definitely cannot deny the fact that Tesla's worse XD

        9 months ago
    • Just this, tesla itself isn't the worst. Their fanboys are the biggest trash i have seen in myblife.

        9 months ago
  • Tesla fanboys... Before you stop expressing your anger at me(I understand though), please look into the facts of what Tesla has achieved through this media stunt.

    Porsche Taycan's record is regarded as an official record, and the fastest 4 door EV by many journalism sites and journalists, and the media response about the car itself is positive.

    In contrast... Tesla stirred controversy, stirred some more, and now has gone silent without achieving anything.

      9 months ago
    • I'd much rather buy a Toyota Mirai and a GR Yaris instead of some Tesla to be honest, call me a hater if you will, but something has always just turned me off about their cars.

        9 months ago
    • Well said... I'd rather go with a Toyota rather than a Tesla all day...

        9 months ago
  • Basically, Tesla had to massively modify a Tesla past the road legal margin just to beat Porsche’s stock Taycan. Come on now, surely that says that the Taycan is much better and if it had just as many mods as the Plaid model S, it would beat it anyways. Therefore when the cars are stock or the playing fields are even, Tesla just aren’t good enough to beat Porsche end of.

      9 months ago
  • The whole Taycan vs Model S was unfair in the first place. The Taycan, as glorious as it seems, was the first ev made by German automaker Porsche. While Tesla has been making EVs for around 10 years. At the end of the day, that’s like putting a rookie against a hall of famer, yet the rookie (Taycan) still won.

      9 months ago
  • Show me a 500 mile range and I’ll be impressed, Lap times in EVs is just dumb.

      9 months ago
    • Well said... I'm not sure whether there's a 500-mile range EV currently though...

        9 months ago
    • Not yet, but second gen Roadster Roadster and Cybertruck will do it.

        9 months ago
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