Tesla Roadster 2020: Elon Musk Declares a Hover Test Is Coming Soon

The supercharged car is about to lift off.

The Tesla Roadster is set to launch next year — in more ways than one.

CEO Elon Musk revealed Thursday that the upcoming all-electric supercar, a successor to the firm’s first vehicle that launched in 2008, will likely undergo a hover test sometime next year.

It’s a bizarre declaration, one Musk made over Twitter, but it comes days after Musk gave more details about one of the Roadster’s most exotic features. The car is expected to offer a “SpaceX” options package as an optional extra, which will use rocket technology to increase the car’s handling, top speed and acceleration.

It’s uncertain whether Musk is referring to this feature, but it would be an ideal time to demonstrate the luxury feature. The $200,000 car has been demonstrated reaching its 0 to 60 mph speeds in just 1.9 seconds, but little is known about the optional SpaceX package beyond public declarations that it will enable it to fly short hops.

Musk's exchange on Twitter.
Musk's exchange on Twitter.

First unveiled in November 2017 alongside the Semi Truck, the Roadster has been described by Musk as the Tesla lineup’s “dessert.” The firm only expects to produce around 10,000 of them per year while it focuses on the more practical makes that will help it reach six-figure production rates overall. Musk’s dessert comment also led to speculation that it could be delayed past the 2020 launch, as the company focuses more important priorities like the Model Y SUV, Pickup Truck, Semi Truck, and delivering the Model 3 internationally.

If it does meet its 2020 launch window, the end of next year could be the ideal time to demonstrate the upgrades.

Tesla Roadster 2020: What’s a SpaceX Options Package?

Musk mentioned the feature during a comment thread around SpaceX’s Starship hover tests. The Starship hover tests will see a miniaturized form of its Mars-bound rocket fly around 20 meters, using a Raptor engine fueled by liquid oxygen and methane.

The Roadster’s package will likely use something far less flammable. A composite overwrapped pressure vessel would contain compressed air, refueled by the battery, and seated on the rear two seats. It would power around 10 small rocket thrusters located strategically around the car to boost acceleration, speed, braking and cornering. Earlier this week Musk revealed the thrusters may be located behind the license plate for a discreet design.

The new Roadster.
The new Roadster.

The vehicle has a futuristic design that could support the thrusters. Musk has teased an augmented mode that will help drivers handle the high forces, expected to hit up to three Gs with thrusters enabled. Musk even suggested that an image of a floating DeLorean car looked similar to how the SpaceX package will work.

Although the current design looks a little too out-of-this-world — there’s no mirrors right now — it’s likely to be a fair representation of the finished design. Followers expected the Model 3 to come with some sort of instrument cluster behind the wheel, but Musk claimed the autonomous driving-focused car didn’t need a speedometer in clear sight.

SpaceX’s hover test could spark a new era in human space exploration. However, in terms of hover tests making headlines, it may be the Roadster that takes the publicity crown.

Media via Twitter, Tesla