Tesla Roadster Delayed, Cybertruck Prioritized

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Tesla CEO Elon Musk appeared on the Joe Rogan Podcast this week, mentioning that the resurrected Roadster stands to see less love as the company turns its focus to other projects. Rogan, who already owns a Model S P100D and is an avid car collector, said he was interested in picking up the new Roadster once it becomes available. To that, Musk had some bad news. Higher-volume cars would have to come first.

“Roadster is kind of like dessert,” he said. “We gotta get the meat and potatoes and greens and stuff.”

The rest of the interview saw the two men discuss Musk’s opposition to unconstitutional lockdown orders resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, as well as humanity’s growing need for symbiosis with technology in order to ensure we’re not left behind as artificial intelligence begins to surpass us — boring stuff that has nothing to do with cars.

Despite Tesla’s returning Roadster seeing frequent mention in 2017, we’ve been left with more questions than answers. Sales were initially expected to commence in 2020, with the car boasting the fastest acceleration you’re likely to find on solid ground. Base models were alleged to offer a 2.1-second launch to 100 km/h (62 mph), while thruster-equipped betters were said to do so in 1.9 seconds.

Oh, did we not mention the proposed SpaceX package that adds 10 cold gas thrusters that improve performance (everything from improving lateral G forces to helping straight-line acceleration and braking)? Well, that may be because it seems fantastical and the kind of thing that would be prohibitively difficult to implement on a street car. Likewise is the 620 miles worth of range the car is supposed to yield from a single charge of its 200 kWh battery. With promises like that, it’s no wonder the electric hot rod saw its launch delayed.

Musk even said the car may be able to hover off the ground, Back to the Future-style, and will definitely usher in the new three-motor drivetrain (the “Plaid Powertrain”) for use in future products.

While we never expected all of this to make it to production, we knew Tesla set some lofty goals for itself; it wouldn’t be surprising to see the model enter into a prolonged development phase. In 2019, Musk announced the next-generation Roadster would be delayed until 2021. The Model S Plaid will now lead with the new triple-motor drivetrain and will be added to the Roadster after launch.

But that date is looking almost as far into the future as when the car was initially announced in 2017. In addition to an improved Model S, Elon told Rogan he also wants to get the company’s Cybertruck out ahead of the Roadster. And he’s a fool for saying so, right?

Nah, not really. While the Roadster sounds like it’ll be the craziest thing on the market, we’re not positive it can deliver on all of its claims. Achieving a 600-mile range would be a colossal triumph in itself, but Musk is basically promising to build the world’s fastest car (with low-level flight capabilities) for the low price of $250,000.

Unfortunately for some, the buzz around Cybertruck is fresher and louder. It also happens to be in an emerging segment of vehicles (battery driven trucks) that several manufacturers have suddenly taken an interest in. It wouldn’t pay for Tesla to wait to deliver its pickup until after Ford, General Motors, Rivian, Lordstown Motors, and whoever else manages to beat it to the punch.

Other aspects impacting the timing of the Roadster launch, according to Musk, include increasing production volumes for the Model Y and completing a new Tesla factory in Germany. Current projections have that facility kicking off in the middle of next year, meaning the Roadster probably wouldn’t enter into production until late 2021.

[Images: Tesla Motors]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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3 of 31 comments
  • Garak Garak on May 09, 2020

    It'll be interesting to see how much of the cybertruck design remains in the final production model. Obviously all the sharp angles have to get blunted, you need mirrors and such, and the useless rear doors need to be redesigned.

  • Dwford Dwford on May 10, 2020

    And what of all the people that put down $50,000 deposits for the Roadster starting in 2017??

  • Theflyersfan Well, if you're on a Samsung phone, (noticing all of the shipping boxes are half Vietnamese), you're using a Vietnam-built phone. Apple? Most of ours in the warehouse say China, but they are trying to spread out to other countries because putting all eggs in the Chinese basket right now is not wise. I'm asking Apple users here (the point of above) - if you're OK using an expensive iPhone, where is your Made in China line in the sand? Can't stress this enough - not being confrontational. I am curious, that's all. Is it because Apple is California-based that manufacturing location doesn't matter, vs a company in a Beijing skyscraper? We have all weekend to hopefully have a civil discussion about how much is too much when it comes to supporting companies being HQ-ed in adversarial countries. I, for one, can't pull the trigger on a Chinese car. All kinds of reasons - political, human rights, war mongering and land grabbing - my morality is ruling my decisions with them.
  • Jbltg Ford AND VAG. What could possibly go wrong?
  • Leonard Ostrander We own a 2017 Buick Envision built in China. It has been very reliable and meets our needs perfectly. Of course Henry Ford was a fervent anti-semite and staunch nazi sympathizer so that rules out Ford products.
  • Ravenuer I would not.
  • V8fairy Absolutely no, for the same reasons I would not have bought a German car in the late 1930's, and I am glad to see a number of other posters here share my moral scruples. Like EBFlex I try to avoid Chinese made goods as much as possible. The quality may also be iffy, but that is not my primary concern