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Is this going to be the fastest production car ever?

Forget the Dodge Demon. Don’t bother with the new 5,000 hp Devel Sixteen. If what Elon Musk revealed late Thursday night has any bearing on reality, the world of performance is about to change. “Period.”

Officially, Tesla had promised the evening would finally bring the twice-delayed unveiling of the company’s new Semi truck, an 18-wheeler meant to offer a clean alternative to traditional diesel rigs. But CEO Musk had something in his back pocket, and when the trailer of one of those big trucks opened up, out popped a sleek, cherry red 2+2.

“People have been asking us when we’re going to make a new Roadster,” said Musk. “We’re making it now.”

(For a first look at the Tesla Semi, Click Here.)

Well, not quite. The plan is to have it ready for sale sometime in 2020 for $200,000, but if it lives up to its billing and if – and this is the big “if” – Tesla can actually get it into production, it will likely be worth the wait.

Tesla CEO Musk celebrates the debut of both the Semi and the new Tesla Roadster.

“The new Tesla Roadster will be the fastest production car ever made. Period,” the South African-born entrepreneur declared. “The purpose of this is to give a hardcore smackdown to the gasoline car.”

The Tesla Model S is already darned close to earning that title. Launching from 0 to 60 in about 2.3 seconds, the P100D version with optional Ludicrous Mode comes within a few hundredths of a second of matching the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon. Tesla is claiming the new Roadster will get there in 1.9 seconds with its optional “Maximum Plaid” mode. (For those not in on the joke, you’ll need to see the Mel Brooks movie, “Spaceballs.”

(Click Here for our review of the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon.)

Getting to 100 will take 4.2 seconds, Musk continued, adding that the Roadster, in prototype form is turning 8.9 second quarter-miles – compared to 9.65 for the Demon. If that holds, the Roadster would be the first production car ever to break the 9 second barrier. As for top speed, it will be “above 250 mph,” or so Tesla is saying more than two years ahead of production launch.

The Tesla Roadster makes its surprise appearance.

Whatever number you look at, the Roadster’s stats are eye-popping. The drivetrain features three electric motors, one up front, two in the rear. While Musk didn’t release horsepower, he noted that the four-seater will turn out 10,000 Nm torque. No, that’s not a typo. And for the metrically challenged, 10,000 Nm translates into an equally mind-bending 7,376 pound-feet of torque. For its part, Devel hasn’t revealed torque numbers for the Sixteen, but it seems likely it won’t meet Tesla’s challenge.

(The Devel is in the details. Click Here for more on the 5,000 hp Devel Sixteen.)

That sort of performance can burn through batteries pretty fast. So, Tesla plans to equip the second-generation Roadster with a 250 kWh pack, the largest ever in a production electric. In less aggressive circumstances, Musk promised that will take a driver 1,000 kilometers on a charge – a first – or 620 miles.

“You’ll be able to travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco and back without charging,” he noted.

The Tesla Roadster will feature a removable roof.

Those who have been following Tesla for some time will recall the original Roadster was Tesla’s first product line. And it was the source of major engineering headaches and a lot of skepticism. Based on a Lotus platform, it made so much power Tesla had to scrub plans for a two-speed gearbox. But it ultimately proved the start-up could really build cars – eventually, because it also revealed a tendency to run into trouble translating concept into production.

The company’s third product, the Model X SUV, for example was two years late to market. Tesla seemed to have things under control when it launched its next offering, the Model 3, last July. But things went south in a hurry and Tesla continues to struggle to build the mainstream-priced sedan at anything close to what it had projected. And that is creating major financial woes and raising serious questions about its viability.

Expect to hear plenty of skeptics when it comes to the new Tesla Roadster, especially when it comes to that 2020 target date. And by then, there’ll be a number of new, long-range electric vehicles on the market, including several targeting the performance segment. But even the eagerly anticipated Porsche Mission E won’t come close to the numbers Tesla is promising.

There are plenty of “ifs,” but if it can deliver the numbers, including the target date, Tesla will likely make true believers out of even the most hardcore of its skeptics.

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