- Tesla unveiled the prototype for its next-generation Roadster in late 2017.
- Elon Musk says it will be the fastest production car ever developed and that manufacturing for the supercar is scheduled to begin in 2020.
- Business Insider asked three of its transportation reporters what to expect from the Roadster.
The following is a transcript of the video.
What Tesla fans should know about the Roadster
Narrator: Zero to 60 mph in 1.9 seconds? An 8.8-second quarter mile? A top speed of over 250 mph? These are just a few of the absurd specs behind Tesla’s long-awaited next-generation Roadster. Our transportation reporters will break down everything fans should know about Tesla’s upcoming Roadster, analyse what we’ve seen so far, share past experiences with the vehicle’s predecessor …
Matthew DeBord: I described it as hot orange electric sex.
Narrator: And cover challenges that lie ahead for Tesla leading up to its release.
Mark Matousek: The exact specs are maybe a little optimistic.
Linette Lopez: Really the question is, where is Elon Musk going to build the Roadster?
Narrator: Unveiled to the public as a surprise at 2017’s premiere of Tesla’s all-electric semitruck, the new Roadster is the company’s follow up to its debut vehicle from 2008.
Matthew: It was the first Tesla I ever sampled. You never forget your first Tesla. It’s still my favourite Tesla. And I think in my review back then I described it as hot orange electric sex. The old Roadster was based on a Lotus platform. So they took what were called “sleds” from Lotus and they put the Tesla software, battery, and motor in. In this way they were able to produce something that was an incredibly hot and exciting electric car after years and years of people thinking electric cars were just golf carts. So it was just ridiculously insanely bonkers crazy fun. It definitely made an impression.
Narrator: While it’s hard to deny the new Roadster is a sleek-looking automobile that remains faithful to Tesla’s iconic design language, some have argued the automaker may have been too conservative in the battery-powered speed demon’s styling.
Matthew: As far as the design of the car goes, to be honest with you, I think they held back. What it really is – it’s not even really a roadster. It’s not a new roadster. It’s a new GT car. It’s got a back seat.
So I’d been calling for a more crazy-looking supercar from Tesla for a long time. I said, you have these cars that are crazy fast. I mean, they have got a four-door sedan that can do 0 to 60 in less than 2 seconds. Why don’t they create a proper supercar that visually capitalises on the speed that the cars are capable of, and also makes the driver feel like they’re in a machine that can go warp speed, insanely fast?
One of the things Tesla’s always been about though is that they don’t go over the top. They make cars that perform well, by any estimation or analysis, and that look good, but don’t look like they’re from some distant point in the future.
Mark Matousek: I think it looks great. I think design is one of Tesla’s strengths. When it comes to the proportions and contour lines, I think Tesla vehicles are more striking than anything else I see on the street on a day-to-day basis.
Narrator: From what the public has seen so far of the Roadster’s prototype in action, Elon Musk’s claim that the vehicle will be the fastest production ever developed may not be an overstatement. However, some remain sceptical about the car having a battery range of 620 miles.
Mark: The exact specs may be a little optimistic, especially when it comes to battery range. I know the ones from mainstream automakers are topping out around mid-300s right now. I don’t think within the next two years they’re going to have any major breakthroughs with lithium-ion batteries that will allow them to become that much more energy dense.
Matthew: OK, can the car go from 0 to 60 in less than 2 seconds? Sure. Probably. Does the car go 620 miles? Who cares?! Nobody buys a supercar for long-distance driving. It’s not why you buy a supercar. Nobody’s sitting there in their Ferrari 488 as it runs out of gas and they have to pull into the gas station going, “Oh jeez – this is a drag! I really wish I hadn’t bought this car.” If you get even 250 miles of range out of your new Tesla Roadster you’re probably going to be happy because you’re having so much insane fun just driving around in the thing and glorying in the driving dynamics and the wonderful acceleration and everything that Tesla tends to deliver in spades.
Narrator: As exciting as an all-new Roadster promised for 2020 sounds, Tesla buyers are well aware by now that the automaker isn’t known for sticking to schedule.
Linette Lopez: You always have to be careful when it comes to what Elon Musk is telling you, because he says, “Start production of the Roadster in 2020.” So if you put your $US50,000 down and you think you’re going to get your Roadster in 2020, you’ve got another thing coming. Production of the Model 3, which is a significantly less complex automobile, technically started in 2016. And we didn’t really have anything roll off the line until 2018. So sometimes these things take a little more time than Elon says they’re going to take, and he actually hasn’t said when the first Roadster is going to roll off the factory floor.
Really the question is, where is Elon Musk going to build the Roadster? The Gigafactory is still under construction here in the United States, and based on what our sources tell us, that factory is very busy building batteries for current automobiles. Sticking another line in there at this point seems kind of crazy. Not only that, sources inside the company tell us that parts of the factory that are designated to be built are being built for the Semi and Model Y. We’re not hearing anything about the Roadster.
Narrator: At the moment, the second-generation Roadster is expected to retail starting at $US200,000, requiring a $US50,000 reservation. A special “Founders Series” model, limited to just 1,000 cars, will cost $US250,000 with the reservation dependent on full payment.
Up to this point Tesla has been the sole automaker behind all-electric high performance cars in the US. However, 2019 and 2020 are expected to bring a new wave of luxury EV’s from the company’s competitors that some believe could spell trouble for Tesla.
Mark: I think the one electric vehicle coming from their main stream competitors that would be most likely to compete with the Roadster is the Porsche Taycan. I think the biggest question is, how will the Model S and Model X will hold up when similarly priced vehicles from rivals that make luxury automobiles come out? The Audi e-tron, the Mercedes-Benz EQC, the BMW iX3.
Linette: Well, one of the reasons the Roadster is being introduced is that the Model S and Model X are both old models. Consumers who really want that luxury experience may not want to go to the old Model S and Model X. And that’s really where these competitors are going to be able to stick their foot in. Because again, the Roadster is going to begin manufacturing in 2020. Who knows when that thing is done?
Matthew: Tesla is currently selling only three cars. There are a lot of gaps in the segmentation. So it’s interesting to speculate what it will mean for the new Roadster if there are all these high-performance vehicles coming from these established brands. My take has always been, well, it doesn’t matter. This is not a car Tesla expects to sell a lot of. They’re not going to sell a lot of new Roadsters. If they do sell any, they can pretty much name their price. You don’t really have that traditional level of competition at this well. You’re talking about the rarified heights of the automobility world where people can pretty much have what they want.
Narrator: The new Roadster wouldn’t be a Tesla product if it wasn’t accompanied by some clickbait-worthy news. To the internet’s amusement Musk has already declared the car will be have an optional Rocket Boosters package courtesy of SpaceX that will be capable of allowing it to hover.