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Tesla’s latest bombshell: A Roadster in 2020

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2020 Tesla Roadster (Image courtesy of Tesla Inc.)

People expected to see the reveal of an electric semi truck at the Tesla Inc. press conference. And they did.

But the news everyone is talking about is the Tesla Roadster that Elon Musk unveiled before an anxious audience in Hawthorne, California.

“People have asked for a long time: ‘When you are going to make a new Roadster?’” Musk said. “We are making it now.”

He then rattled off a series of performance specs that go “beyond ludicrous.” The 0-to-60-mph time will be 1.9 seconds. That’s the first time any production vehicle has broken the 2-second barrier. The quarter mile will be in 8.9 seconds – another world record.

But the biggest news in our book: It will be equipped with a 200 kWh battery pack that can drive 620 miles on a single charge.

As Musk pointed out during the press conference, this means you could drive from LA to San Francisco and back – without the need to recharge.


Other information Tesla has revealed about the Roadster:

  • Acceleration 0-100 mph: 4.2 seconds
  • Top speed: More than 250 mph
  • Wheel torque: 10,000 Nm
  • Seating: 4
  • Base price: $200,000
  • Reservation fee: $50,000

The Roadster will be a 2+2 configuration with 3 electric motors and an all-wheel drive powertrain. You’ll be able to seat two smaller people in the rear, and have space for luggage as well.

“It’s a real car,” Musk said.


So why this car, and why now? Musk was very up front about his motivation.

“The point of doing this is just to give a hardcore smack down to gasoline cars,” he said. “Driving a gasoline sports car is going to feel like a steam engine with a side of quiche.”

OUR TAKE

Musk is a master showman, and this is a huge attempt at misdirection.

Tesla is in trouble. The automaker has constantly overpromised and under-delivered. It has burned through most of its cash. And it can’t seem to nail the idea of mass production.


Rather than focus on the basics – like delivering on the 450K Model 3s that people have already plunked down a deposit for – Musk keeps reaching for the pie in the sky.

According to CNBC, Tesla planned to deliver 1,500 Model 3s in the third quarter of 2017, yet as of the beginning of October, the automaker had only delivered 220.

On the flip side, with a base price of $200K and a required deposit of $50K, the Roadster build numbers will likely be low. This is a promise Musk and Tesla might actually be able to keep.