This weekend, we learned that when he said “crazy,” he was talking about rockets. In a series of tweets, Musk gets into the details, and they seem bonkers. The announcement is below — tweets have been edited slightly for better readability:
SpaceX option package for new Tesla Roadster will include ~10 small rocket thrusters arranged seamlessly around car. These rocket engines dramatically improve acceleration, top speed, braking & cornering. Maybe they will even allow a Tesla to fly. Nineteen years ago, when my first company got bought, I had to decide between buying a house in Palo Alto or a McLaren F1 (best car ever in my opinion). Was no contest. I bought F1 & a small condo that was much cheaper than the car. New Tesla Roadster will exceed all gas sports cars in every way.
Youtube personality Marques Brownlee wondered if Musk was actually serious, tweeting at the Tesla CEO, “No take backs, Elon,” to which Musk responded: “You have my word, Marques. Next gen Roadster will be absolutely out of this world. For those who love to drive, there is no finer car in history and we don’t think there will be another.”
Later, Musk commented about the upcoming Tesla, which was surprisingly debuted at the Tesla Semi Truck event in November, that the “intent of new Tesla Roadster is to beat gas sports cars on every performance metric by far, no exceptions, thus transferring the ‘halo crown’ effect gas cars have as the top speed leaders over to pure electric.”
For those wondering if Tesla, which prides itself on being an electric car company, would use fossil fuels to power those rocket thrusters, Musk said they would be “pure electric.”
Interestingly, the the high-pressure gas in the SpaceX rocket thrusters on the Tesla Roadster will be reusable, too, Musk noted:
“Note, gas contained would be ultra high pressure air in a SpaceX rocket COPV bottle. The air exiting the thrusters would immediately be replenished whenever vehicle pack power draw allowed operation of the air pump, which is most of the time,” he writes in a tweet posted this weekend.
SpaceX watchers should be familiar with those Composite Overwrapped Pressure Vessel; the struts on one caused the Falcon 9 to explode in 2015. Musk bragged a little about the achievements of SpaceX’s latest development, though, saying, “ The composite overwrapped pressure vessel (COPV) is most advanced ever made. It’s what SpaceX is qualifying for NASA crewed missions. Extremely robust — literally bulletproof.”
Essentially, the power output of compressed air will be “insane” in the next Tesla Roadster. Musk commented, agreeing confirming a Twitter user’s assumption that the cold-air thrusters would help the Roadster brake sooner, turn sharper, and hit higher speeds.
The SpaceX options package means a big COPV bottle will take up the two back “kid seats” in the Roadster — “which is probably wise for many reasons,” Musk posted later.
Yeah, probably a good idea, tbh. The next-generation Tesla Roadster is loosely scheduled to go into production in 2020. If the SpaceX option seems a bit crazy, know the plain old Tesla Roadster without a Spacex Option Package is still being advertised as being able to top 250 mph.
“The point of doing this is to just give a hardcore smackdown to gasoline cars,” Musk said in November when he revealed the Roadster. Seems like adding rocket boosters will make sure of that.