Pops’ Rants: Tesla’s Uber-fast Roadster Is Proof that Elon Musk Is Desperate
Boy, these past two weeks have been all about high-speed and high-power action. I barely had time to get over Koenigsegg’s new world speed record and Chevrolet launched its monstrous Corvette ZR1 yet. Now, with the weekend upon us, Tesla took the wraps off its new semi truck and the second-generation Roadster. Neither are ready to go into production just yet, but the preliminary data hints at tremendous performance and new benchmarks for the electric car market. The Roadster’s 0-to-60 mph sprint only 1.9 seconds probably caused a few heart strokes over at Ferrari quarters. And I have a feeling that the guys working on the next-generation Nissan GT-R Nismo aren’t feeling better either. But behind Tesla’s new tour de force hides Elon Musk’s fear that his automobile brand may not succeed as planned.
It may seem that Tesla is simply pushing the envelope and presenting the world with revolutionary electric cars, but there’s more to this showcase. Tesla is actually struggling to keep its promises. The new Model 3, which is supposed to become the affordable electric car everyone is dreaming about, is late to the party. Production isn’t going as planned and it seems that the Model X fiasco is happening all over again. On top of that, the Model S isn’t getting the best reviews and Consumer Reports isn’t very optimistic about the Model 3’s reliability. So Tesla needs to find a way to keep all the hype alive, and the upcoming Roadster is the perfect car for this. The strategy is simple, unveiled a cool looking prototype, claim it will hit 60 mph in less than two seconds, set a big preorder price, and wait for the cash to fix ongoing problems.
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Quick Comparo: Tesla Roadster - New vs. Old
Tesla just unveiled the second-generation Roadster and launched a big shock wave around the world. It’s not the Roadster’s return that took us by surprise, but the incredible specs that the car comes with. Not only set to become the quickest production vehicle ever with a 0-to-60 mph sprint of only 1.9 seconds, it also has a 250-mph top speed. The latter is downright spectacular for gasoline-powered supercar and I honestly didn’t think I’d live to see a production EV hit that much. But before we get overly excited, we must remember that the second-gen Roadster won’t become available until 2020. And given Tesla’s habit of delaying production, it may take a bit longer than that.
Many details are still under wraps, but Tesla made sure that all the new Roadster’s spectacular features hit the news. So we now have quite a few figures to compare with the first-generation Roadster. It takes just a quick glance to notice that Tesla made tremendous progress since 2008, and this is exactly why we need to put the numbers next to each other. While the first Roadster marked Tesla’s debut on the market and the beginning of a spectacular career for the California-based brand (albeit sprinkled with plenty of issues), the second Roadster could take Elon Musk’s firm to new heights. If all goes according to plan of course, because it may happen the other way around too.
This comparison is far from complete given that the latest Roadster is far from being a production model, but the aim is to look at Tesla’s progress rather than provide an comprehensive comparo.
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2020 Tesla Roadster
Back in 2008, a little upstart EV company named Tesla threw a lithium-ion battery pack and electric motor into a Lotus Elise and called it the Roadster. It was the very first model to bear the Tesla badge, and it was the first highway-legal series production all-electric car to travel more than 200 miles in a single charge. Now, nearly 10 years and several remarkable models later, Tesla is at it again, revealing a second-generation Roadster in a surprise debut alongside its new all-electric semi truck. While it’s still several years away from hitting public roads, Tesla dropped a variety of specs and numbers for the Roadster 2.0, and long story short, this thing is shaping up to be an absolute monster. If it really can do everything that Tesla CEO Elon Musk claims it can, the second-gen Roadster will set numerous performance records, including quickest to 60 mph, quickest to 100 mph, and quickest in the quarter mile. And that includes internal combustion-based production vehicles, by the way. It’ll also set new standards for EVs in the realms of range per charge and top speed. This is faster than Insane Mode. This is faster than Ludicrous Mode. This, dear readers, is straight up Plaid.
While we knew Tesla had a new Roadster coming down the pipeline, few would have guessed what it might be capable of. We even put together a speculative piece about a potential Tesla supercar a while back, but it turns out the California automaker combined the two ideas into one incredible world-beater. “The point of doing this is to just give a hardcore smackdown to gasoline cars,” says Musk. “Driving a gasoline sports car is gonna feel like a steam engine with a side of quiche.” Indeed, the Tesla Roadster 2.0 is framed as a bona fide halo car, an ultra-quick speed machine that’ll show Tesla’s true performance potential. Read on for the details.
Updated 11/17/2017: Tesla just revealed the new Roadster!
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2020 Tesla Supercar
It seems almost like almost every other day now brings news about some physics-defying all-electric supercar. Outrageous output figures and broken records are pretty much the norm in this segment, with cars like the NextEV Nio EP9 or Rimac Concept_One setting new standards in electron-powered performance. Tesla is active in this space as well, earning a spot on our list of Top 5 All-Electric Performance Cars with its the venerable Model S P100D. The Model S might be a sedan, but it’s still got insane speed potential, posting a face-melting 2.3-second time in the 0-to-60 mph benchmark. Impressive? Certainly. But what if we went beyond the P100D and probed what was really possible with a few electric motors and an enormous battery pack? What about a true-blue Tesla supercar, a halo model with just two doors and a spec sheet capable of laying waste to all things internal combustion? What would that look like?
It’s a tempting proposition, but right away, there’s a problem. Tesla has adopted a “top-down” approach wherein the more expensive models come out prior to the less expensive models (for example, the Model S preceded the Model 3). So where does a super car fit into that equation? Obviously several years down the line, if at all, but that said, a supercar halo model would do well amongst well-heeled EV enthusiasts, not to mention bring even more attention to the California-based automaker. Sound good? We think so.
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Almost two weeks ago we showed you a rather interesting drag racing video where a Tesla Model S P85D simply walks away from a V-12-powered Ferrari 550/575M Maranello in a straight line. While that result was kind of expected even before hitting the play button, a new race featuring the same Tesla model and a V-12-powered Italian supercar has surfaced, and you are probably going to have a hard time believing what happened between the two.
First of all, the Tesla no longer battles a 13-plus-year-old Ferrari but a brand new Lamborghini Aventador LP-700 with only 44 miles on the clock. Second of all, the Tesla is no longer part of a test drive, but it is part of a young owner’s stable... as is the Aventador it raced against. To refresh your memory, the Aventador LP-700 is powered by a naturally aspirated, 6.5-liter, V-12 that develops no less than 691 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque. Mated to a sequential transmission and an all-wheel-drive system, the Italian monster should hit 62 mph from a standing start in just 2.9 seconds, so it theory not even the Model S P85D should be a match from a dig.
The Tesla Model S P85D also comes with 691 horsepower but a gargantuan amount of torque delivered by two electric motors. Also with all-wheel drive, the electric car’s official numbers mention a 3.2-second run from naught to 60 mph, but in real life things may sit a little bit different. As seen in the above video, up until about 50 mph the Tesla actually pulls ahead of the Lambo and until 80 mph they are neck and neck, with the Aventador only getting ahead at higher speeds. Sure, we’re told that the Lamborghini isn’t using its Thrust Mode launch-control feature for this race, but the way that the Tesla completely obliterates it at lower speeds is pretty astounding.
In a recent interview, Elon Musk, Co-Founder of Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA), announced that the company has plans to build an electric supercar that will target models from Ferrari and Lamborghini. The new model won’t cost more than $200,000, but it also won’t arrive on the market for the next four-five years.
The future Tesla supercar will most likely be built on the same platform as the electric Roadster, but will deliver much more than the current 248 HP. This means that the 0 to 60 mph sprint time will drop significantly under the Roadster’s 3.9 seconds, while top speed will most likely be limited to about 150 mph.
"We will do an electric supercar at some point," Musk said. "It was going to happen right after the Model X, but it is more important to the world that we do a more affordable electric car. Hopefully, we will get to an electric supercar in four to five years."
The TopSpeed time machine has taken us ahead before to see what Porsche has in store, now that VW controls it. It has also taken us to an alternate reality, where we got to see just how the i8 could completely fall on its face. Well, now with McLaren confirming what we all suspected (that the V-12 is about to becomes extinct), we are going to fire the old time cruiser back up and see what the supercar world might have in store for us in 2020.
McLaren has already come out and said that the V-12
"belongs in a museum" and plans to downsize its engine lineup, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. You see, in 2014, the FIA is dropping its engine sizes to petite 1.5-liter V-6 plants with turbochargers and energy recovery systems. Six years after that changeover, fuel will likely be so expensive that the FIA may drop to a 4-cylinder regulation, which opens the door for supercars to borrow said technology.
This would mean no more V-12, V-10, V-8, or V-6 engines and just super-powerful 4-cylinders will remain. Pumping 500 to 600 ponies from a 4-pot is not an impossible task, but it requires very precise research and development. The smaller engines will also result in lower weight, more manageable weight ratios, and better handling. Lower weight, in turn, results in better fuel economy and quicker acceleration.
There will be some tradeoffs, as expected. No longer will we have these 200+ mph supercars. You will also have a much less comfortable drive than expected, as these 4-bangers will be much more high-strung and touchy, much like a race car.
The big picture is what matters in all of this. No longer will there be a hunkin’ V-12 engine chugging down a gallon of fuel every 8 to 11 miles. In 2020, we should see smaller 4-pots getting 16 to 18 mpg and still keeping up with their larger ancestors up to 100 mph, which is really all that matters. Ask yourself, “When was the last time I drove 200 mph in my Aventador?”
But what about electric? Click past the jump to read about electric-powered supercars in 2020.
Tesla has yet to officially launch its latest EV, the Model S, and already the upstart automaker is setting up some pretty lofty goals. In an interview with CEO, Elon Musk, it was made clear that the company is confident that it will achieve 20,000 total models sold in 2013. With the Nissan Leaf eclipsing just 9,500 total sales in the U.S. in 2011, those are some pretty stratospheric goals.
This is especially difficult considering that Tesla is not expected to infiltrate the European and Asian markets until mid-2013. We do see the logic behind this though, as the base $57,400 price is relatively affordable, considering what you get at that level. Also add in the fact that the Model S is more stylish and ego-massaging than the very odd-looking and soft-feeling Leaf, and Tesla just may be able to hit those numbers.
Once Tesla debuts the Model X SUV, the automaker anticipates a huge upswing in sales at the tune of 75 percent. Yup, Tesla anticipates 2014 sales to eclipse the 35,000 mark thanks to its newest EV SUV, which means the Model X’s sales are expected to hover around 15,000 for the year.
Overall, these are very high goals to achieve for an automaker that really has no reputation or customer base to attach its wagon to yet. However, there are tons of enthusiasts out there that would love nothing more than a 300-mile-per-charge supercar that hits 60 mph in 4.4 seconds and still hauls the family around. So, if Tesla remains true to its promises with the Model S, we could all see this new automaker well exceeding its projected goals.
We’ll be closely monitoring the sales of the Model S to see if the demand is there and if this upstart can provide ample supply if the demand is high.