Tesla’s next-gen Roadster is "evolving" into "the ultimate vehicle"

The company's lead designer is upping the ante.

Tesla’s next-generation Roadster is shaping up to be something special. Over the weekend, the vehicle’s lead designer teased that the forthcoming supercar could offer more than what consumers already expect.

Franz von Holzhausen, Tesla’s head designer, explained on an episode of Ride the Lightning on Sunday that the second-generation Roadster is “evolving, deservedly so. It needs more time. And you know, it will be even better than what we’ve unveiled … in every way.” Von Holzhausen went on to describe the next-generation car as “kind of the ultimate vehicle,” describing his pleasure working on the project.

It’s a declaration that could raise anticipation for the $200,000 supercar even as it looks like it may miss its 2020 launch date. First unveiled alongside the Tesla Semi at a November 2017 event, the Roadster dazzled spectators with the promise of 0 to 60 mph in 1.9 seconds, a range of over 600 miles per charge and a top speed of over 250 mph.

Elon Musk at the Tesla Semi event in November 2018, where he surprisingly debuted the next-generation Tesla Roadster.
Elon Musk at the Tesla Semi event in November 2018, where he surprisingly debuted the next-generation Tesla Roadster.

Although prototype models of the car have impressed onlookers, CEO Elon Musk has suggested the vehicle is not a top priority for the firm. On the same podcast back in June, Musk described the Roadster as “a kind of dessert. Do we really need the new Roadster to accelerate our progress toward autonomy or toward electrification? No.” Musk later claimed in September that the Roadster would launch sometime after the new powertrain Model S, scheduled for October or November 2020, meaning the chances of the Roadster also launching in 2020 look pretty slim.

With von Holzhausen declaring the Roadster “needs more time,” it could be a while before the next-gen vehicle rolls out.

The new Roadster.
The new Roadster.

Tesla next-gen Roadster: where the car could offer high-end features

It’s unclear how the vehicle may have evolved since the November 2017 unveiling, but several tidbits over the past two years suggest the final vehicle could launch with an incredible spec sheet.

In June 2018, racing driver Emile Bouret suggested that the car’s 0 to 60 mph acceleration time of 1.9 seconds is actually on the “conservative” side. Bouret added that “that thing is going to be a proper weapon.”

Two months later, Musk suggested the 200 kilowatt-hour battery pack could see improvements. In its prototype phase, the pack is essentially two Model S P100 packs strapped together. The company is able to reduce the packaging so it only takes up around 80 percent more space versus a single 100 kilowatt-hour pack, leading to a 4-to-5-inch rise in height, but Musk has suggested that it could save further on those figures by around 10 to 20 percent.

The new Roadster.
The new Roadster.

In terms of added bonuses, SpaceX could play a big role. The company is expected to offer a package that will place 10 small rocket thrusters around the car, including a composite overwrapped pressure vessel on the rear seat. The bottle would likely take up the two rear seats, meaning this would be for those serious about speed.

Musk suggested it could offer forces equivalent to what astronauts experience during liftoff. In an appearance on Ride the Lightning, Musk said:

“If you have 3 Gs of thrust, you can go in any direction. You can go up and accelerate with still more than 2 Gs.”

It will also support the Autopilot semi-autonomous driving system, as well as an “augmented mode” that will “massively enhance human driving ability. Like a flying metal suit, but in car form.”

With all that still to be unveiled, it’s perhaps little wonder that von Holzhausen believes it could defy expectations.

Media via Tesla, Inverse