Tesla Motors added to its EV portfolio this month with the unveiling of a new Roadster (Fig. 1). However, the company said buyers will have to wait until 2020 for delivery, which would give them about three years to save enough money to buy the car. The first 1,000 cars will cost $250,000 each, paid in full up front, with later models starting at $200,000.
What you will get for your money is a four-seat sports car that can travel 620 miles (1,000 km) on a single charge, with pretty impressive specs:
· 0-60 mph (0-97 km/h): 1.9 seconds
· 0-100 mph (0-161 km/h): 4.2 seconds
· 1⁄4 mi (0.40 km): 8.9 seconds
Top speed: In excess of 250 mph (400 km/h)
Total wheel torque: 10,000 Nm (7,400 lb·ft)
Drive: All-wheel-drive with 2 rear and 1 front electric motor
Energy: 200 kWh (720 MJ) battery
The Roadster’s 0-60 time would make it the fastest accelerating production car, and the first with a sub-9.0 second 1/4-mile time. Its all-wheel-drive will utilize torque vectoring for increased cornering ability.
The new Roadster will be based on the third-generation Tesla platform, which is already used for the Model 3 and Model Y. Unlike the original Roadster, which used an Elise chassis from Lotus, the new Roadster would be built in-house. Like the original Roadster, the new Roadster would be a convertible with a removable glass roof (Fig. 2). The removable glass roof can be stored in the trunk during open air driving. The cabin can seat four, in 2×2 seating, with tight rear seats. The 2020-era Roadster was designed by Franz Von Holzhausen.
Tesla’s original Roadster was introduced in July 2006, then delivered two years later. The first Roadster was rated by the EPA as being good for 244 miles (393 km) per charge; acceleration was from 0 to 60 mph (0-97 km/h) in less than 4 seconds. Its top speed was 125 mph (200 km/h).
The Roadster popped out of one of Tesla’s new trucks that was introduced at the same event (Fig. 3). Tesla said the semi truck can go up to 500 miles (800 km) at maximum weight at highway speed (without mentioning the size of the payload). This Class 8 vehicle, the heaviest weight classification for trucks, can recharge its battery in 30 minutes, enough to go 400 miles. Tesla would build a global, solar-powered network of “megachargers” for the trucks.
The day cab—which is not a sleeper—has a less-prominent nose than on a classic truck, and the battery is built into the chassis. Tesla designed the cab for good visibility, with a center seat flanked by two touchscreens.
The company faces a more crowded field for electric trucks than it did when it introduced its electric cars. The company will have to convince the trucking community that it can build an affordable electric big rig with the range and cargo capacity to compete with relatively low-cost, time-tested diesel trucks. One potential problem is that the heavy batteries used in trucks will reduce the weight of cargo an electric truck can haul.
The Chinese Connection
It is rumored that Tesla is planning to set up an EV plant in Shanghai’s free-trade zone. Apparently Tesla would own the factory, rather than partner with a local manufacturer (as is usually the case).
According to industry sources, China is the world’s largest market for automobiles. This has led the country to encourage the development of a robust market for EVs. In September, Xin Guobin, the country’s vice minister of industry and information technology, noted at a forum that the country is beginning to phase out sales of fossil fuel vehicles as it works to cut its carbon emissions, and that existing manufacturers will need to begin building more EVs in the coming years.