The popular YouTube channel Engineering Explained has a problem with Tesla's claim that the Model S Plaid and Plaid Plus can accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in under 2 seconds.

And that means Tesla has a problem because the host of the channel, Jason Fenske, doesn't make claims he cannot back up with science, facts, a whiteboard and a bunch of multi-coloured dry erase markers.

The issue at the heart of the problem is the fact that Tesla uses "rollout" to achieve the claimed sub-2-second 0 to 60 times for the New Model S Plaid and Plaid+. In other words, it's not 0 to 60 mph, it's more like 6 to 60 mph since the Plaid and Plaid Plus will likely have accelerated to 6 mph by the time they have travelled the one-foot rollout and Tesla's stopwatch starts.

Engineering Explained Tesla 0-60

Fenske says he has three main problems with Tesla's method of hiding the fact that rollout was used in achieving the 2-second 0-60 times.

  1. Most people don't even know what rollout is - and they shouldn't have to.
  2. He finds it deceiving that the information is hidden in the detail section, and not shown on the main Model S order page.
  3. Tesla doesn't use the same method of recording 0-60 times for the less expensive models.

Number three is one of the most interesting points of this. If Tesla used the same method of measuring 0-60 miles for all of its vehicles, they could argue that's just how they do it, but they apparently don't. When you look at the details page you find an asterisk next to the 0-60 times for the Plaid and Plaid+, but not next to the base Model S Long range. 

So I looked at all of Tesla's models and found the same inconsistency. For the Model 3 and the Model Y, the performance models have the asterisk next to them, but the other less expensive models do not. With the Model X, just as the Model S, only the Plaid version has the asterisk that denotes rollout was used to arrive at the 0-60 figure.

In doing so, Telsa gives the false impression that there is a wider gap in 0-60 times between the Performance and Plaid models and their respectively less expensive counterparts than what actually exists. That's dirty pool. 

Engineering Explained Tesla
The "Feature Details" section of Tesla's website reveals that he claimed 0-60 times aren't always starting from 0, as implied.

And it's not just Engineering Explained and us that feel this way. Dan Edmunds, a longtime auto journalist and suspension specialist, saw the Engineering Explained video and was compelled to add his thoughts on the subject on Twitter. Edmunds has been testing and reviewing cars for a long time and is universally respected in his field. 

In the tweet, Edmunds pointed out that using rollout in quoting 0-60 times isn't a new phenonomon, and he calls it "flat-out lying to the consumer", and we agree. One important point in this is that the magazines, and most OEMs, make it very clear that they are using rollout when they publish figures that use it.

In this case, Tesla doesn't add an asterisk to the main ordering page. Instead, they only show this pertinent information in the "feature Details" page when they could have easily added the asterisk on the main page, alerting perspective buyers that there is additional information on the quoted 0-60 time that they should consider.

 

Fenske does a great job (as he always does) of explaining his position and why he disagrees with Tesla on this. He whips out the whiteboard and uses his engineering experience to explain acceleration and deceleration, the role of downforce and the effect of having larger tyres on the rear wheels for acceleration. He does conclude that theoretically achieving a 0 to 60 time in under 2 seconds is possible, but that Tesla's use of rollout to achieve it is really more of a marketing ploy than reality. So check out the full 11.5-minute video.