Tesla Roadster running four years late, 'due 2024' – Elon Musk | CAR Magazine

Tesla Roadster running four years late, 'due 2024' – Elon Musk

Published: 17 May 2023 Updated: 17 May 2023

►  Latest on the $200,000 Tesla Roadster
  Running four years late, due in 2024
►  Rocketship performance: 1.9sec 0-60mph

The ambitious range-topping Tesla Roadster is now running four years behind schedule, owner Elon Musk confirmed at the 2023 Tesla shareholders meeting. He declared that the design and engineering programmes were scheduled to be finished this year, with production starting next.

Originally scheduled for launch in 2020, a radically different business landscape post-pandemic has pushed the Roadster’s debut back to 2024. And Musk even qualified that target with the rather woolly-sounding ‘hopefully.’

Tesla has form for giving wildly vague – and optimistic – timelines for new product launches, sparking a whole genre called ‘Elon time’ by some Musk watchers. Many doubt the niche Roadster will make it on sale in the next 18 months.

Talking on a podcast with US comedian Joe Rogan, Musk had earlier confirmed that the Roadster was being prioritised last, after the Tesla Cybertruck pick-up and Tesla Semi truck, not to mention refreshes for the ageing Model S and Model X range-toppers. ‘Roadster is kind of like dessert,’ Musk told the podcast. ‘We gotta get the meat and potatoes and greens and stuff.’

Tesla Roadster: first shown in 2017 and we’re still waiting…

Tipped to be the fastest electric car ever made, the open-topped EV was first revealed in 2017, but apart from a brief concept model shown in Grand Basel, Tesla hasn’t said much about it. Musk has already bragged about its performance, suggesting it’d be able to complete a quarter-mile in around eight seconds. To put that in perspective, most supercars can manage the task in around 10-11 seconds.

Tesla Roadster

The reason for the Roadster’s prodigious speed is partly down to its EV powertrain, but mainly from compressed-CO2 thrusters the car will borrow from Tesla’s SpaceX cousin, according to the billionaire. In a tweet, Musk claimed the Roadster would use a, ‘SpaceX cold gas thruster system with ultra high-pressure air in a composite over-wrapped vessel in place of the two rear seats.’

When asked if that meant a sub-8 second quarter-mile time, Musk replied ‘no problem,’ adding that, ‘you can basically accelerate at the limit of human endurance.’ A typically wild claim from the arch self-publicist.

Tesla Roadster: everything you need to know 

The Roadster is identifiably a Tesla, yet with a sharper, more sporting bent. The front end is sharper than the firm’s saloons and crossovers, with narrow, incisive lights – while the rear is more aggressive, too. Clean lines mimic those of the Model 3, but minimal overhangs and a squat low stance remind you this is an altogether different beast. 

The original 2008 Tesla Roadster was based on the Lotus Elise, but this has its own distinct personality.

Read our guide to the best electric cars and EVs on sale in the UK

It looks more like a coupe than a roadster?

It’s really more of a targa than a true roadster, the roof a removable glass panel that can be stowed in the boot. Unusually for a car of this type it seats four, although the rear seats are small +2 occasional style seats.

Tesla Roadster 2020

What about the performance?

Tesla claims a top speed in excess of 250mph, an incredibly high speed for an electrically driven car – or a conventionally powered car, for that matter. It seems unlikely that any production version of the Tesla Roadster would be able to offer that safely.

With 7300lb ft of torque available at the wheels, projected acceleration figures are similar startling: 0-60mph in 1.9sec, and 0-100mph in 4.2sec.

The Tesla Roadster powertrain specs

Three electric motors, one driving the front wheels and two driving the rears have been promised by Musk. A 200kWh battery pack provides the juice, and Tesla claims a 620-mile range – presumably at speeds lower than 250mph. We dread to think what a sports car carrying that kind of battery capacity will weigh…

Booster jets?

If those figures aren’t enough, Elon Musk has floated the idea of using booster jets to increase the car’s 1.9 second acceleration time. In an earlier post on Twitter, Musk said Tesla could use COPV thrusters usually found on the SpaceX Falcon 9 jet to help propel the car.

The theory goes that by blowing highly compressed air in different directions, the Roadster will be able to respond even faster – whether it’s slowing, turning or acceleration.

‘The air exiting the thrusters would immediately be replenished whenever vehicle pack power draw allowed operation of the air pump, which is most of the time,’ continued Musk in the tweet.

The Tesla CEO also said the boosters will take the place of the two rear seats – which is probably a good idea for both safety and weight distribution reasons.

When’s it out? 

If you fancy a spot on the waiting list, start writing a $50,000 deposit cheque now. Full price will be around the $200,000 mark, with the first ‘Founder Series’ cars off the production line costing $250,000, according to earlier reports.

Is it all pie-in the sky? One or two Tesla Roadsters have been seen in the wild. Tesla chief designer Frankz von Holzhausen took one out a spin soon after it was first unveiled and he was inevitably photographed by a few members of the public. As you’d expect from Tesla, a photograph of von Holzhausen’s test drive of the Roadster prototype was also posted on Twitter.

Read our guide to the best electric cars and EVs on sale in the UK

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's Digital Editor, F1 and sim-racing enthusiast. Partial to clever tech and sports bikes