2020 Tesla Roadster – Can It Be That Good?
The old Tesla Roadster was the first production car ever made by Tesla. This happened back in 2008 and at the time, it was pretty awesome. The official range figure was at 244 miles, the top power was 248 hp and torque 200 lb-ft. At the time people were wary of electric cars far more, but they did love the drive and the instantly deliverable torque from 0 rpms — one of the rare characteristics of electric motors that diehard car freaks actually like.
The top speed was 125 mph and acceleration to 60 mph took 3.9 seconds. It was the first, and so far the only, sports car produced by Tesla.
However, times are changing. Tesla’s luxury sedan, the Model S, is now far faster than their only sports car, so Musk and the crew thought it was time to start teasing the world with a new Roadster.
And if Musk knows how to do anything, it’s how to tease.
So far we have the prototype, which is said to be “the fastest accelerating production car ever made.” A bold claim, despite the stunning success of the Model S and some other electric cars when it comes to acceleration.
But that’s not all.
The new Roadster will have AWD setup with three electric motors (two for the rear wheels and one at the front axle) and its range will be a whopping 620 miles. And that’s highway range!
It will also pack a new acceleration mode, now named “Maximum Plaid,” as Tesla seems to be running out of ideas when it comes to coming up with names that should denote ultimate capabilities. The previous modes were called “Insane” and “Ludicrous,” so the seemingly good idea of making the modes sound mean actually backfired since “Maximum Plaid” neither sounds mean nor gives any room for future creativity. What’s next: “Seriously Maximum Plaid”?
Anyway, leaving the weird semantics behind, the Roadster will not be based on a Lotus chassis like the previous one. The beautiful new design was penned by Franz von Holzhausen, the guy who previously built several concepts for Volkswagen, GM and Mazda. He managed to give the “regular” Tesla models sleek, futuristic looks.
The stopping power comes from massive carbon-ceramic brakes — the size of the ones stopping the LaFerrari.
Moreover, the glass roof will be removable and the car will have four seats, although we’re not sure it will actually be able to seat four adults in anything that would pass for comfort.
They said nothing about the power rating, but torque will be 7,376 lb-ft. No, not a mistake, that is about 10 times more than some of the most powerful cars available today.
This kind of a push will enable the new Roadster to sprint to 60 mph in just 1.9 s, to 100 in 4.2 s, cover the quarter-mile run in only 8.8 s and top out at more than 250 mph.
There is literally not a single car in the world at the moment that can compete with this. Moreover, the closest competitors cost far more, as the price of the new Roadster will be $200,000. Not cheap, but still far cheaper than the most capable production cars at the moment, which delve well into the seven-figure territory.
Among all the words above used to describe the hypercar that the new Roadster is to become, there is one which repeatedly sticks out — “will.” All of these things are what Tesla says WILL happen in the 2020 production model.
Now, we are used to Musk pulling off the impossible, but is this a bit too much?
First of all, the range:
The Roadster will pack a 200 kWh battery pack. That capacity is double that of the batteries in the current Model S P100D and that is a lot bigger car. Current development of the batteries has not reached the point where that kind of capacity could be put in a car the size of the Roadster we saw.
Plus the battery of such capacity currently weighs more than 3,500 lbs. Just the battery! Not good for a sports car. Or any car used for cornering, for that matter. Aside from cornering, this also causes big problems with overheating and greatly increases the energy required both for acceleration and braking. Making a sports car which weighs as much as a truck and overheats regularly is not good, whatever the power.
This concurs with the standpoint of Salim Morsy, Bloomberg’s expert on electric vehicles. He says he doubts the presented car had 200 kWh batteries in it, as it seems impossible at the moment. So either Tesla has a massive, industry-changing new advancement in the battery tech department, or they are keeping their fingers crossed for one before 2020.
The acceleration figure:
It is a relatively small car with AWD and, having in mind that the power and torque will hardly lack, there is a possibility that the sub-2 seconds time is achievable. Hell, it is already done in rally cars, although they are the furthest thing from being street legal you can imagine.
However, you can have 10,000 hp, but if that power is not transferred to the road efficiently, that doesn’t mean much. Sure it would do wonders for acceleration past 100, but for the 0-60 run there is a line where simply adding more power doesn’t help. That line was crossed long ago. Finding the perfect measure between controlling the torque and power delivery enough to prevent excessive wheelspin and still giving enough of them for a record-breaking nudge is pretty difficult.
However, that would be the easier part. There is still physics with its damn rules, and most of the ones of interest here have to do with tires. Advancements in tire tech brought us the Dodge Demon’s record. That thing is considered street legal, as are its exclusive tires. The ones we see in the pictures of the Roadster are the Michelin Cup 2 and they are some of the grippiest tires in the world.
Theoretically, the 1.9 0-60 is achievable. It is a completely different matter if it will be done in the Roadster.
Next, the torque:
They said nothing about the power rating, but the torque figure of nearly 7,400 lb-ft looks incredible, to say the least. It is also pointless. Until we know the horsepower rating, the torque figure means nothing.
Now, we all know that the Roadster will not lack power, so it is sure to be lightning fast. If you are interested in how that looks, watch the video below. The video is pretty long, but the fun part starts at around 55:00 and it’s short and sweet. You’re welcome.
So, did Tesla manage to make the batteries good enough for that kind of a range while keeping the weight at a reasonable level? Will they successfully put the power on the road? Will it weigh less than a tanker ship? I’d love to believe Musk, because that would literally bring the next generation of electric supercars and open the world of opportunities for the whole car industry, as well as any other industry that uses batteries.
Do you believe Musk?
If you do and you want one, you’ll need to put down a deposit of $50,000, which is the quarter of the price for a regular model. The limited “Founder’s Edition” models will cost $250,000 each and there will be just 1,000 of them. Moreover, if you are up for that kind of exclusivity, the reservation will set you back the entire quarter-million amount.