Maybe the Tesla Roadster Will Fly

"Rocket tech applied to a car opens up revolutionary possibilities."


It seems Tesla CEO Elon Musk has some ideas about how to use the rocket expertise of his SpaceX venture and apply it to Tesla’s range of electric cars. The second-generation Roadster, surprisingly unveiled last week, promises acceleration times of 0-60 miles per hour in just 1.9 seconds, which would make it the fastest-accelerating production vehicle in the world. But of course, Musk wasn’t satisfied with merely that. The car should also be able to fly. Musk created a stir on Sunday when said there’d “special upgrade” for the new Tesla Roadster that would take its performance to the “next level.”

“Not saying the next gen Roadster special upgrade package will definitely enable it to fly short hops, but maybe…” Musk told his 15 million Twitter followers. “Certainly possible. Just a question of safety. Rocket tech applied to a car opens up revolutionary possibilities.”

“Rocket tech applied to a car”

It’s a surprise suggestion from the entrepreneur who famously shunned flying cars in the wake of news about the flying car system being developed by Uber.

“If somebody doesn’t maintain their flying car, it could drop a hubcap and guillotine you,” Musk said in a February interview with Bloomberg. “Your anxiety level will not decrease as a result of things that weigh a lot buzzing around your head.”

In April, Musk repeated the “guillotine” line TED conference in Vancouver.

“This is not some inherent bias against flying things but there is a challenge with flying cars in that they’ll be quite noisy, the wind force generated will be very high, let’s just say that if something’s flying over your head, if there are a a whole bunch of flying cars all over the place, that is not an anxiety-reducing situation.

“You don’t think to yourself, ‘well, I feel better about today.’ You’re thinking, ‘did they service their hubcap? Or is it going to come off and guillotine me as they’re flying past?’”

“‘Did they service their hubcap? Or is it going to come off and guillotine me as they’re flying past?’”

It offers acceleration times of 0-100 in 4.2 seconds, a quarter mile in 8.8 seconds, and a 200kWh battery pack capable of running for 620 miles on a single charge.

The new Roadster — unveiled at the Tesla Semi truck launch — promises a staggering list of record-beating specs when it launches in 2019 at a starting price of $200,000.

“We started Tesla with a sports car, the Tesla Roadster. That baby got us going. It was the foundation of the whole company,” Musk said. “People have asked us for a long time, ‘When are you going to make a new roadster?’ We are making it now.”

The earliest this new Roadster will arrive isn’t for a few years, though. Musk said the sports car won’t hit the streets until 2020, but naturally, one can reserve one today, via a “Founders Series” vehicle will sells for $250,000. More details about that quarter-million-dollar Roadster won’t be out until next year, Musk said: “We’re gonna talk about things beyond base maybe next year sometime.”

“‘When are you going to make a new roadster?’ We are making it now.”

Not everyone was too pleased about Musk’s attempt to drum up hype on Twitter around the forthcoming electric car.

“Settings expectations high again I see,” the Model 3 Owners Club fansite responded, going on to name various promised features of the $35,000 Tesla Model 3 that launched this summer which were missing from the final design, like a “spaceship” steering wheel.

Quite how Musk plans to develop a “short hop” Roadster while avoiding the “guillotine hubcap” issue remains to be seen, but it seems that safety is the main reason why Tesla has avoided joining the likes of Google co-founder Sergey Brin in exploring the technology. There’s also the distinct possibility that Musk, ever the salesman, is trying to drum up reservations in the days following the debut of the Roadster.

Either way, we probably shouldn’t expect a flying Tesla taxi along the lines of what Uber’s developing.

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