When Tesla announced its upcoming Roadster in 2017, it seemed like an impossible dream. An electric car capable of 0-6 in 1.9 seconds, an 8.9 second quarter mile, and a top speed of 250 MPH with a 620 mile range seemed to be at least five years ahead of the rest of automotive development. Four years later, the Roadster is still a set of renderings from the last Olympic cycle that will not hit showroom floors any time soon. According to a tweet from Tesla CEO and de facto PR head Elon Musk, the Roadster will not come out five years after its debut date, either. No, the Model S has now been pushed to 2023 at the earliest.
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Even that 2023 date comes with significant qualifiers. Musk pins the delay on industry-wide supply chain shortages, which have also limited production of the Semi and Cybertruck models promised in 2017 and 2019, respectively. While he says the Roadster should ship in 2023, he gives the company yet another out if 2022 does not go as planned. Given that the past two years have not gone as planned for anyone in any industry, that does not bode well for the Roadster.
The good news is that at least some of those once-impossible numbers are starting to seem feasible for an electric car released in 2023. Tesla’s own Model S Plaid has already broken the lofty goal of a 0-60 time under 2 seconds and is capable of a quarter mile run of 9.2 seconds, just 3/10ths off the 8.9 target for the Roadster. The Rimac Nevera, in another price point entirely as the first-ever electric hypercar built to set the kinds of benchmarks the Roadster was aimed at, was able to crush that target time with a 1/4 mile run of 8.5 seconds. The Nevera also hits the 250 mile per hour target. The range target of 650 miles is still a ways off, though; while the Model S Plaid has an EPA-estimated range of 350 miles, the faster Nevera claims just 250 miles.
Whether or not Tesla can deliver on all of the otherworldly promises it made when the Roadster debuted in 2017, both the delays and the ways in which they have been announced are hard to ignore. This is a car that was delayed on a podcast last year. Now, it was delayed by a reply to a tweet. Tesla will have left at least five years between the day the car premiered and the day the first Roadster arrives in customer hands. Lotus, the company that designed the chassis used by the original Roadster, has used those same years to reinvented itself as an electric-first performance car brand, debuted an electric hypercar of its own, formally announced its own delays, and still has at least 15 months to miss its own deadlines while beating the Roadster to market.
Throughout that wait, Tesla has held onto $50,000 reservations submitted when the car was actually launched. Real customers have already put down serious money for this car, but Tesla seems to be in no rush to actually build it. For most companies, it would be a hard debacle to live down. For Tesla, it’s just another item to throw on the list of things that might eventually happen.
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