Tesla's next-generation Roadster is set to stun – and more details about the all-electric supercar may arrive soon.
Over the weekend, CEO Elon Musk responded to a question about the upcoming vehicle on Twitter. Ryan McCaffrey, host of the Ride the Lightning podcast, wrote to Musk that "you've been exceptionally quiet about Semi and Roadster for a while. Any updates on those?"
Musk wrote in response:
Sure, we can probably do an update later this year
The suggestion is big news for both vehicles. The $150,000 Semi truck was unveiled in November 2017 at the Tesla Design Studio in Hawthorne, California, capable of traveling 300 or 500 miles per charge and electrifying a key area of industry. But at the same event, Musk unexpectedly announced the $200,000 Roadster, a follow-up to the company's first electric vehicle released in 2008.
The Roadster, originally announced with a 2020 launch date that looks less likely at this stage, looks set to stun. It offers a 0 to 60 mph acceleration time of 1.9 seconds, 0 to 100 mph in 4.2 seconds, and a quarter-mile in 8.8 seconds. It has a top speed of over 250 mph, a wheel torque of over 10,000 Newton-meters, and 620 miles of range.
In short, this thing is fast. So what's left to know that Musk might reveal later?
For the Roadster, a firm release date is still unclear. Musk originally announced the car with a 2020 release date, but in June 2019 referred to the car as a "dessert" that isn't strictly necessary for transitioning more of the world onto sustainable energy.
The Plaid powertrain expected to underpin the car has also provided hints about delays. This system, which helps drive the electric car, is also set to roll out to the Model S premium sedan and Model X premium SUV. In September 2019, Musk claimed that a seven-seater Model S with the Plaid powertrain would enter production sometime in October or November 2020, before making its way to the Roadster and Model X. That lends more credibility to the idea that the Roadster would possibly launch in 2021 instead.
It's also unclear how Tesla expects to produce the electric vehicle. In June 2019, Musk declared that the company would be unlikely to produce more than 10,000 Roadsters per year. That means it's set to be a relatively exclusive car, considering how around that time Tesla was producing around 5,000 Model 3 vehicles per week.
Depending on how Musk chooses to deliver the update, it could end up being the third major press event for Tesla this year. The company is already planning a battery day to explain its advancements in energy storage technology, as well as a powertrain event. The timing of these events was unclear, but it was originally scheduled to be hosted as one event sometime in April. The events are expected to be live-streamed.
The Inverse analysis
The Roadster is a head-turning electric car with broad public appeal, similar to how the $39,900 Cybertruck's angular design sparked conversations. But Tesla does not appear to consider the Roadster as a massively important vehicle, unlike the Cybertruck that alongside the Model 3 and Model Y forms part of a plan to reach more consumers with lower prices.
That doesn't mean its designers aren't treating it with care. Franz von Holzhausen, Tesla’s head designer, described the car in October 2019 as "kind of the ultimate vehicle."
The car detailed later this year may never reach a mass market due to its high price, but it's still set to demonstrate to a broad audience the impressive power of electric vehicles.