Plug-ins are suddenly hot business in these parts, and not just because a Porsche 918 Spyder went up in flames just north of Toronto recently. Tesla also surprised many onlookers in the last couple weeks by unveiling an insane 691-hp high-performance version of its new all-wheel-drive Model S four-door, to the point where even the normally staid Consumer Reports put out an impressive list of exotic sports cars with less horsepower than the Dual Motor (one at each axle) Model S P85D, including Porsches, Lamborghini and Ferrari.
One Porsche the latest Tesla doesn’t outmuscle is the exotic 845-hp 918 Spyder. That particular fiery plug-in hypercar belonged to Mike Wekerle, one of the newest hosts of the CBC’s popular Dragon’s Den business pitch show. He owned the car less than a month when he pulled up to an Esso station in Caledon to fuel it in late September. As he recently explained to a local reporter, he got into a conversation about the car to a fellow motorist, inadvertently overflowed the tank, and while trying to mop it up with what he described as “some old squeegee from the 1980s, but then it all just exploded,” reported The Toronto Star this week.
Porsche 918 Spyder. Click image to enlarge
As noted in my preview drive of the plug-in supercar here, the 918’s unique rear deck mounted twin exhausts face skyward just behind the speedster humps directly behind each passenger seat’s head restraint, close to where the gasoline refueling nozzle on the B-pillar is located, with the electric plug port on the opposite side. An investigation into the cause of the fire is still ongoing, but Porsche Canada spokesperson Patrick Saint-Pierre wrote this week in an email that the car has been deemed safe for owners to use without any restrictions.
“Based upon all information received to date, there are no indications that the fire originated from a technical issue,” wrote Saint-Pierre. “Without a detailed inspection, any conclusions would only be speculation.”
So although there are always questions over the safety of lithium-ion battery technology whenever a fire breaks out in a modern plug-in, seems a fairly good bet that this fire’s cause will most likely be related to traditional if exotic internal combustion technology.
2015 Tesla Model S P85D. Click image to enlarge
Seems to be better news at Tesla, unless you’re one of the many owners who have recently received your Model S before the announcement of the Dual Motor versions last week. Unlike all-wheel-drive gasoline cars, the 60D and 85D models will be slightly more efficient than their two-wheel-drive namesakes, and therefore offer a slight 15-km boost in range, save for the most powerful P85D performance models, the only one to offer that headline grabbing 691 hp, which loses 20 km of range, but still remains at a healthy 440 km.
That towering power figure is more than any version of the Porsche 911 Turbo, the Ferrari 458, and most versions of the range-topping Lamborghini Aventador, reported Consumer Reports this week. Granted, the Brampton, Ontario-built Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat’s scalding 11-seconds-flat quarter-mile time still beats the P85D’s official 11.8-second time, though the Tesla P85D’s quoted time of 3.4-second 0-100 km/h time is quicker than the reported 3.8-second blazing run of the crazy fast Dodge sedan.
Exciting times to be a plug-in fan, no doubt.