Tesla Brings Back the Roadster: 0-60 in 1.9 Seconds, 620-Mile Range

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HAWTHORNE, Calif. — This is how to run a crowdfunding event, Tesla style. It was billed as the unveiling of the Tesla Semi, the 500-mile electric truck. But surprise: Thursday night’s event was also the unveiling of the second-generation Tesla Roadster and its amazing performance figures. An equally impressive figure was the quarter of a billion dollars Tesla plans to take in on reservations.

The first 1,000 Roadsters are Founders Series cars. You put up the full $ 250,000 price in advance, and then wait until the 2020 (projected) delivery date. Others who want to reserve put down $ 50,000 and wait along with the founders.

What is the Tesla Roadster?

The first Tesla Roadster lived from 2008-2012 and put the company on the map. This is an all-new design with serious performance chops. These are specs Tesla CEO Elon Musk laid out:

The Tesla Roadster, as it is again called for now, is a four-passenger electric sports car with a removable glass roof panel, whereas to purists roadster connotes a two-seat, sporty convertible. So it’s more like a Porsche 911 Targa, only costlier. But close enough.

Tesla’s spec sheet says the new Roadster is awesome. First, there’s the 1.9 second clocking for 0-100 kph (0-62 mph), quicker than any other street legal car. One hundred miles per hour comes up in 4.2 seconds. At a drag strip, you’ll trip the quarter-mile lights at just 8.8 seconds. Top speed? “More than 250 mph,” and, Musk said, “This is just the base model.”

The battery is 200-kWh, twice as much as on other Tesla. It’s good for 620 miles or 1,000 kilometers of driving (depending on how you drive). Power goes to three motors, two in back and one in front, making this an all-wheel-drive car.

With these kinds of performance numbers, the days of combustion-engine supercars may be on the wane.

Elon Musk unveiling the 2020 Tesla Roadster outside Los Angeles Thursday.

Reality Check: When Will It Ship?

At the rollout, after watching a Roadster prototype zoom into and out of view, Musk said, amid cheers, “People asked us for a long time, ‘When are you going to make a new Roadster?’ We are making it now.”

Technically,”now” is really 2020 as the promised ship date, and for Tesla, ship dates should taken with a grain of salt. Meanwhile, if all 1,000 Founders Edition cars sell, as well as another 1,000 regular ($ 50,000) reservations for the regular-price $ 200,000 Roadsters, Tesla has $ 300 million in the bank to get the Roadster out the door. All crowdfunding should be so successful.

The original Tesla Roadster, 2008-2012.

Tesla Roadster I vs. Roadster II

The first Roadster was a two-seater with a removable soft top, and sold for $ 109,000 to $ 128,500. Tesla worked with Lotus on the body, which it produced as a glider — no running gear — and shipped to Tesla in California.

The 288-hp electric motor drove the rear wheels only. Production ran until early 2012 and sales amounted to just under 2,500. Production of the Model S sedan began in 2012, and Tesla moved from a small, niche car company to a less small, serious car company that earlier this year had the fourth largest market value (market cap), behind Toyota, Daimler, and Volkswagen.

It’s unclear if Tesla will ultimately choose a different name for the second-generation Roadster. There is some confusion here, because later production of the first generation model was called the Roadster 2.5.

With the Tesla Semi and Roadster, Tesla now has five vehicle lines: Model S, X, and 3 currently shipping, and Tesla Semi and Roadster on the way. A pickup truck is in the offing.

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