It was way back in 2017 when Tesla announced their second-generation roadster. We’re now 4 years on from that and as we approach the end of 2021, some were getting excited about the prospect of seeing this on our roads next year.
Unfortunately, the wait will be a little longer as Elon Musk confirmed today that the Roadster, often referred to as the desert, will not enter production until 2023. That places the Roadster on a 6-year development cycle, which is certainly not unheard of in the auto industry, but more recently the development cycle had shrunk to 3-4 from conception to production.
The Roadster was intended to be the hardcore smackdown to performance enthusiasts to really drive home the point that electric vehicles were the fastest powertrain, making them clearly the best path forward for the future.
Recently we’ve seen the title of the fastest production car, go to Rimac Nevera, offering an insane 1.97s 0-100km/hr and a 1/4 mile time of just 8.6s from the 120kWh battery. The car has a top speed of 412km/hr and with specs like this, the Nevera has essentially proved the point.
So with the future of hypercars very clearly destined for electric powertrains, the next question is price and on this front, Tesla could definitely still innovate. Tesla officially lists 2.1s for their 0-100k/hr, an 8.8s quarter-mile and a top speed of over 400km/h.
Tesla doesn’t explicitly list the size of their battery pack but does say it’ll offer 1,000km of range. Clearly, with the 4680 battery cell still in development, the actual pack size may still be under consideration, but what is known is the price and here’s where the Roadster is absolutely still necessary.
The Founder’s series Reservation for a Roadster is $326,000, while that is many multiples of what most people spend on cars, if you’ve done well financially and considering a hypercar with this level of performance, you’re used to spending the multi-millions of dollars and that Rimac with a price tag of around $2.4 Million, does little to move the needle there.
When the Roadster does eventually ship, it’ll be devastating to the ICE supercar and hypercar market as older, slower, less technologically advanced offerings from legacy automakers won’t stand a chance, but Tesla does have to deliver.
Right now, Tesla is nearing completion of two factories a Gigafactory in Berlin and another in Texas. These will not only produce a lot of Model 3’s and Model Ys, but also produce the new Cybertruck. It is estimated that there have been more than a million pre-orders, so ramping production will be a significant investment of time, money and mental energy.
Next is the Tesla Semi, another product that has seen delays, but is again a much harder product for Tesla, with so many new aspects to accommodate. Firstly there’s dealing with the challenges of making a truck that delivers on the specs they’ve committed to and again that requires execution on 4680 battery cells. If we then consider the adjustments for Autopilot cameras and software provisions, then we consider the dual screens for the driver, so there’s another set of interface challenges for Tesla engineers.
On at least one of those screens will be the navigation and routing a truck through city streets is very different than passenger cars, due to weight restrictions of roads, overhanging tree branches, low bridges and more.
We then have the challenge of recharging locations, which were to be solved by the introduction of Megachargers, but even in late 2021, none of these exist. It’s possible Tesla work with the businesses who placed initial orders for Tesla Semi to install Megachargers along their common routes, or even at their depots so charging can occur during load and unloading.
Tesla is likely to also stand up new fleet management software for Semi buyers, or at a minimum, enable integration with leading packages in the market, given even the smallest purchaser is likely to have existing platforms in place.
So after all that (Model Y ramp, Cybertruck and Semi), Tesla should then have the capacity to finally build the Roadster. That is of course unless the 2023 Compact takes priority. Given we’ve heard nothing of the Cyberquad since the unveiling event, I’m no longer expecting this to make it to production, even as a Cybertruck option.
While there’s not much sympathy for those mass-referrers who are waiting on a free Roadster, those who put a deposit down back in 2017, do have a solid case to be a little disappointed in the 6-year wait. Let’s just hope that the delay isn’t a result of promises for a hovering car, powered by a ‘SpaceX Package’ that ultimately extended the timeline.
In his Tweet today, Musk pointed to the challenges of supply chain shortages, which includes, but is not limited to the global chip shortage.