Why The New Tesla Roadster Is Just The Beginning

11/25/2017 02:28 pm ET

I’ve had the immense privilege of having interned at Tesla for the last two summers, and in doing so, I was able to witness some pretty remarkable technology. Whether it was the long days prepping my code for the next service release, or watching Elon’s release presentations after work, Tesla has quickly become my favorite company (yes, I’m biased). In an industry dominated by titans with a century of experience, they endure the criticism, hype, and backlash to widen the frontiers of sustainable technology. Last week’s announcement was no different, and while news of the Tesla Semi was spectacular, I want to focus particularly on the 2nd generation Roadster, a new breed of hypercar.

More specifically, we find ourselves at an unprecedented fork in the road of automotive development; many think that the new Roadster represents the pinnacle of achievement in the space. 0-60 in 1.9 seconds, a 250mph+ top speed, and a 620 mile range – what more could you want? A lot, in my opinion, because I’m here to tell you this is just the beginning. Buckle up, because we have begun an industry-wide journey to redefine the boundaries of automotive excellence, and the Roadster is the tip of the iceberg.

First things first, let’s discuss why electric cars, like the ones Tesla sells as well as the racing variants developed by several automotive giants, are much faster than traditional combustion cars. These cars use electric motors, which provide torque at nearly all RPM levels, including baseline 0. In contrast, combustion engines have low torque at the beginning of their start cycle, and build up towards with every gear shift. This is why normal cars start in a low gear, and rapidly shift upwards – they are matching the torque output to the speed of the car. Moreover, electric cars have no gears, low centers of gravity, and batteries that output power far more efficiently than gas to a loaded piston. The cumulative result, juxtaposed with the fact that there is much less energy dissipated as heat, is a revolutionary technology that invariably supersedes its inferior little brother.

It’s the latter point I want to hammer home; internal combustion engines are becoming truly substandard. As we push for the bigger and the better for the future of road cars, automotive manufacturers realize that we are at the periphery of an automotive arms race, one that won’t formally end until every car company has a 1000hp, 250mph, 500+ mile, zero-emission beast under their belts. People are talking more about the Roadster than they are the Tesla Semi, which was the initial purpose of the unveiling event. Hypercars are big money, and every titan in the space has an R&D or design shop working tirelessly to unveil something soon. In fact, this isn’t even speculative; the Rimac Concept One fully embarrassed the LaFerrari in a drag race, and NextEV’s supercar rendition just set a new production car record, lapping the Nordschleife in just 6:45. As I’ve mentioned before, the EV winter is coming.

The NIO EP9

While I think it’s important to mention that every vehicle I’ve discussed is yet to be put through the production ringer, one thing is for certain -- we are in the midst of an automotive rivalry, one that blends engineers, designers, and technology like nothing we’ve ever seen. Moreover, being able to watch this as a consumer is downright fascinating. We are witnessing enterprises throw time, effort, and billions of dollars into products that will revolutionize the free market, and I for one am coming along for the ride.

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