Update: ‘Working feverishly on it, says Tesla design boss’ section added.
The next-gen Tesla Roadster would need to one-up every other Tesla if it wants to be the flagship for the company. However, seeing Tesla continuously upgrading the Model S to industry-leading performance levels, one wonders how far it can go with the sedan. Well, Elon Musk, co-founder and CEO, Tesla, finally has an answer.
On Tesla’s original Roadster
The first Tesla Roadster debuted in 2008, marking a historic milestone in the development of clean, zero-emissions electric vehicles. The Roadster was the first attempt from Tesla to build an electric car. It generated an extraordinary response because it proved that a high-performance electric car could work in the real world. Acceleration from 0-100 km/h was 3.9 seconds from its battery rated at 53 kWh powering the rear wheel-driven motor.
However, the Roadster was not a car built on a dedicated EV platform. Instead, Tesla licensed the chassis from Lotus and used drivetrain technology from start-up AC Propulsion, and worked day and night on the integration, making thorough changes to the chassis. The original Roadster was never the end goal for Tesla. Instead, it was a proof of concept that would showcase what an EV can do, paving the way for their future electric cars, the Model S luxury sedan, and the Model X crossover SUV, Model 3, and Model Y.
‘Plaid+’ performance level expected
Before November 16, 2017, before the 2023 Tesla Roadster debut, ‘Ludicrous’ connoted the highest possible performance spec or mode at Tesla. Then, during the unveiling, Musk said that “there’s only one thing that’s beyond Ludicrous, which is Plaid.” “The new Tesla Roadster will be the fastest car (production car) ever made, period,” Musk continued, as he presented a 0-60 mph acceleration time of just 1.9 seconds for the 2023 Roadster on the massive display behind him. The world presumed that’s the figure Tesla was targeting for the top-end all-new Roadster in the Plaid mode.
Fast-forward to June 11, 2021, and Tesla starts selling the Model S in a ‘Plaid’ variant with a 0-60 mph acceleration time of just 1.99 seconds. One would naturally expect the company to work on something even better and unique for the 2023 Roadster. We don’t know for sure if Tesla is coining a new name for the Roadster’s meanest drive mode, but Musk has promised that the two-door model will offer even better performance.
“We have a few ideas for increasing torque & max rpm even further for new Roadster,” Musk said in a post on Twitter on June 13, 2021. “Definitely fun and exciting engineering ahead!” he added. For reference, the Model S Plaid uses three electric motors to produce 1,020 horsepower and 1,050 lb.-ft. of torque.
Musk has said the new Tesla Roadster would come with what the web calls the ‘SpaceX package’ consisting of cold air thrusters around the car to improve top speed, braking, and cornering. When the CEO made the announcement in January 2021, he said the SpaceX package would make the Roadster accelerate even more fiercely, sprinting from 0-60mph in just 1.1 seconds.
Working feverishly on it, says Tesla design boss
On Spike’s Car Radio podcast dated February 9, 2022, Tesla’s chief designer Franz von Holzhausen said that the Roadster will be “an exciting flying machine” and “defying gravity is an interesting idea.”
Holzhausen stated on the podcast that the American EV-maker is working feverishly on the new Tesla Roadster. The design boss said that Tesla engineers have been learning a lot from the Plaid, referring to the Model S Plaid which Tesla claims to have a 0-100 kmph (0-62 mph) acceleration time of 1.9 seconds, not counting the first foot after the car gets off the line. He stated that the learnings from the Plaid will result in an even better Roadster than what the brand had conceptualised.
Next-gen Roadster release date
Unveiling the all-new Roadster in November 2017, Musk said: “Expect this to be available in 2020.” However, Tesla wasn’t able to deliver on that. Then, in a post on Twitter in January 2021, Musk said that Tesla plans to finish engineering the all-new Roadster in 2021 and start its production in 2022. The company aimed to make the second-gen Tesla Roadster variant (release design candidate) drivable late summer last year.
Multiple factors have repeatedly delayed the next-gen Roadster launch, and it’s possible that the company’s priorities changed. If no issues crop up following the COVID-19 pandemic and the semiconductor shortage, the all-new Roadster could go on sale in 2023. Yes, that’d be a five-year gap between the product unveiling and market launch.
Assuming 2022 is not mega drama, new Roadster should ship in 2023.Elon Musk, co-founder and CEO, Tesla, in September 2021 (via Twitter)
During the Q4 2021 and full year 2021 earnings conference call, Musk explained why Tesla is avoiding launching new models for the moment. He said that launching new models wouldn’t positively affect the company’s sales volume right now and demand even more resources.
If we had introduced, say, a new car last year, we would — our total vehicle output would have been the same because of the constraints — the chips constraints, particularly. So, if we’d actually introduced an additional product, that would then require a bunch of attention and resources on that increased complexity of the additional product, resulting in fewer vehicles actually being delivered.Elon Musk, co-founder and CEO, Tesla (Q4 2021 and full year 2021 earnings conference call on January 26, 2022)
Musk indirectly confirmed that sales of the next-gen Roadster or any other new Tesla model won’t commence in 2022 either. The company will wait until component supply normalizes before launching a new model. It will use 2022 to further develop and improve vehicles in the pipeline, including the all-new Roadster. The last time the company launched a new model (the Model Y) was in March 2020.
And the same is true of this year. So, we will not be introducing new vehicle models this year. It would not make any sense because we’ll still be parts constrained. We will, however, do a lot of engineering and tooling and whatnot to create those vehicles, Cybertruck, Semi, Roadster, Optimus, and be ready to bring those to production hopefully next year.Elon Musk, co-founder and CEO, Tesla (Q4 2021 and full year 2021 earnings conference call on January 26, 2022)
Musk expects the supply chain to normalize by 2023. Tesla could then start producing its statement-making all-new Roadster, which we expect to come with all of its next-gen EV technologies, including an electronics-intensive hardware package.
Specifications & Features
The all-new Roadster sits on a dedicated EV platform and will maximize high-performance and efficiency with spectacular figures: 0-100 km/h in less than 1.9 seconds, wheel torque of 10,000 Nm, top speed of over 250 mph (402 km/h). In addition, it will feature an all-wheel-drive layout with torque vectoring (one electric motor at the front, two at the rear). With these specifications, it should outperform most supercars.
The Tesla Roadster prototype has a 200 kWh battery that supports supercharging at 350 kW DC and offers a range of 620 miles (997 km) at highway speeds, the longest driving range on a production EV. In addition, it features seating for two or four in its state-of-the-art cabin featuring a removable glass roof storable in the trunk.
In other news, in September 2021, the United States Patent Office granted Tesla the patent for its laser windshield wiper which was filed by the company in May 2019. Titled “Pulsed Laser Cleaning of Debris Accumulated on Glass Articles in Vehicles and Photovoltaic Assemblies,” reports say that the Roadster and Cybertruck could use this technology.
Tesla 4680 Battery Cell
Reports say that Tesla will deploy its new 4680 battery cell format in the 2023 Roadster. The company has named the new format after its dimensions: 80 mm in length and around 46 mm in diameter. Andrew Baglino, Senior Vice President, Powertrain and Energy Engineering, Tesla, has said that the 4680 cells can offer far more power and increased range.
We get five times the energy with six times the power, and enable 16% range increase just (from the change in) form factor aloneAndrew Baglino, Senior Vice President, Powertrain and Energy Engineering, Tesla (Tesla Battery Day 2020)
4680 cell development is progressing well, and Tesla expects to start selling EVs fitted with the Kato Road facility-built new-format cells by March 2022.
We are making meaningful progress of the ramp curve in Kato. We’re building 4680 structural packs every day, which are being assembled into vehicles in Texas. I was driving one yesterday and the day before. And we believe our first 4680 vehicles will be delivered this quarter.Andrew Baglino, Senior Vice President, Powertrain and Energy Engineering, Tesla (Q4 2021 and full year 2021 earnings conference call on January 26, 2022)
The 4680 cells will go into many Tesla models, and the Model Y is likely to be among the first. The 4680 cells won’t be low-volume technology limited to the most expensive Teslas. That is why the company is in talks with several suppliers to order them in large quantities. Reports suggest that Samsung SDI, LG Energy Solutions, Panasonic, and CATL could manufacture the new-format cells for Tesla.
2023 Tesla Roadster price
Tesla initially priced the new Roadster at USD 200,000 in the base trim and at USD 250,000 in the priority-delivery (first 1,000 units) Founder’s Series trim. While reservations are still open, Tesla has removed the prices from its website. In the U.S., customers need to place a deposit of USD 50,000, an initial USD 5,000 credit card payment, and then a USD 45,000 wire transfer payment due in 10 days. Perhaps, Tesla removed prices because it can no longer promise the initially announced prices for new reservations. The company could announce a price hike closer to launch.
In the past few years, Tesla has proven that electric vehicles can be desirable, have high performance, and be used as everyday cars. Tesla, with its facilities in the cradle of innovation, Silicon Valley, also holds an advantage over traditional automakers because it attracts some of the world’s best talent.
Tesla has learned some important lessons about bringing new technology to the market regarding transforming the auto industry. If the company delivers what is promised in 2017 at the unveiling of the prototype, there is no question that the 2023 Tesla Roadster is the new benchmark in electric vehicles offering supercar level performance with everyday usability.
2023 Tesla Roadster FAQs
What is new Tesla Roadster release date?
We expect the launch of the new Tesla Roadster in the second half of 2023.
What will be the new Tesla Roadster price?
The new Tesla Roadster will cost USD 200,000 onwards.
Which are the Tesla Roadster competitors?
The Roadster is certainly in a league of its own, if Tesla delivers on the provisional specs.
Featured image: Tesla