Tesla CEO Elon Musk has made no secret about plans to bring back the brand’s original model, the Roadster. He’s also hinted for some time that there’s a performance mode in the works that would go a step beyond the current Ludicrous Mode found on both the Models S and X.
But could Maximum Plaid deliver what, not all that long ago, seemed impossible to achieve without strapping on a pair of rockets? According to at least one report, the highest-performance version of the upcoming Tesla Roadster could hit 60 mph in less than 2 seconds.
Tesla currently is in a spitting match with Dodge, both claiming bragging rights for the world’s fastest factory-built vehicles: the Model S and the new Dodge Challenger Demon launching from 0 to 60 in about 2.3 seconds. With its high-torque electric motors, the Tesla Roadster could lay down numbers that would be difficult for an internal combustion-powered vehicle ever to beat.
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The return of the Roadster was first signaled with last year’s release of what Musk jokingly called his “Master Plan, Part Deux.”
Tesla isn’t saying much about the next-generation Roadster, Musk only dropping twitter hints that it is still “some years away.” Apparently, the automaker first wants to get the Model 3 sedan, then the Model Y sport-ute and both a heavy-duty truck and battery pickup on the road.
What seems all but certain is that the new two-seater will be developed entirely in-house, including both the electric drivetrain and the platform it powers. The original Roadster, launched in 20xx, and then pulled from production in 2012, was essentially a Tesla powertrain stuffed into a modified Lotus Elise.
It was a touch-and-go project, devouring what was, at the time, a modest product development budget. Complicating matters, Tesla originally hoped to incorporate a two-speed gearbox, rather than the single-gear system most EV makers have opted for. But the incredible launch torque developed by the Tesla motor was too much to handle and, after abandoning several original boxes, Tesla finally fell back and used a one-speed Dana transmission.
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Magazine Electrek kicked off speculation of a sub-2-second Roadster. The idea was not entirely out of the blue, Musk previously promising it would be the “fastest Tesla.”
Not surprisingly, Musk quickly responded to the Electrek report, declaring via tweet that the idea would be “interesting.” But he cautioned that Tesla would only go there if it were “capable of doing so right off the production line with street legal tires.”
Considering the challenges Dodge faced with the Demon, and what Ferrari, McLaren and others have had to do to get into the low-2-second range, it’s anybody’s guess if they would be able to come up with a street legal, gas-powered model to break the 2-second barrier.
Tesla could face a challenge from other new entrants, however. Battery-car start-ups Faraday Future and Lucid, for example, have also been talking up numbers in Demon’s range. It’s a big question whether they could punch things up even further.
Experts say it’s no surprise to see battery carmakers nudging into the ultracar performance range. Electric motors deliver maximum torque as soon as they start spinning. The first challenge is to deliver enough power to them. The next challenge is heat. That’s usually a factor that limits how long they can operate at maximum performance. Put the Model S on the track in Ludicrous Mode and you’d get a lap or two, at best, before it goes into a Limp Home Mode while its batteries and motors cool down.
We’d be just as impressed to see the next-generation Tesla Roadster manage to keep running flat out, even if it meant slightly slower 0 to 60 times.
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