posted on November 22, 2017

Game-changer or eventuality?

Tesla’s characteristically bombshell announcement of their new Roadster concept has the automotive world buzzing. Yes, a second generation of the original Tesla and a new flagship is exciting for the electric car company that many love to hate, but it’s the numbers that are truly staggering.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, Tesla claims the Roadster 2.0 will do 0-60 mph in 1.9 seconds, hit a quarter mile in 8.9 seconds, and reach a top speed of over 250 mph. If successful, the Roadster will be the quickest production car in history, the first to manage 60 in under two seconds, and oh yeah, it’s electric. It’ll be faster than the Ferrari La Ferrari, Pagani Huayra, McLaren F1… basically, it’ll be really fast.

It’ll use a 200kWh battery that can take it 620 miles on a single charge and produce 10,000 Nm of torque, which equates to over 7,300 lb-ft. Which is like six and a half Bugatti Veyrons, and then a little more. According to Elon Musk, “the point of doing this is to give a hardcore smackdown to gasoline cars.” It’s crazy. And also expensive. A base-spec model will run you $200,000, or you can reserve a Founders Series Roadster for $250,000 right now.

Meanwhile, most of the major automakers have been jumping head-first into EV-land to catch up with Tesla. Porsche has been diligently working on their hotly anticipated Mission E, their first-ever EV and a Model S competitor scheduled to launch around the same time as the Roadster 2.0. The media has been drooling over the new Tesla, but we wanted to know what the experts think. So we polled some of our enthusiast friends we’ve spoken with for Ask a gearhead, and compiled their answers to the following question:

What’s more exciting for the future of EVs — Elon’s quarter-million dollar vanity project or legacy automakers like Porsche getting serious about electric?

Matt Farah

“I think the Roadster, and the Big Rig as well, are both exciting new products, but those are concept cars at best. Yes, they both seem to move under their own power, but this is not difficult for Tesla to do in small volume. I think the media should treat the cars as concept cars, which they are, and focus on whether or not Tesla is doing enough to make sure the Model 3, their last over-hyped product, is getting out to those customers who laid out deposits. Last I checked they are significantly behind on those deliveries.

“While it’s nice that in three years you might be able to buy an actual dragster from Tesla, I’d be more interested in seeing what they are doing to improve infrastructure re: supercharging stations, and improve build quality and the repair process for the cars they already make. If Porsche can build an EV that performs in a straight line like a Tesla, has a few “gotcha” gimmicks like a Tesla, but is built like a Panamera, they will have a real winner.”

Alex Roy

“Anything Tesla does, by definition, is good for EVs. Without Tesla, the Prius would still be the pinnacle of electrification, which today is mostly an excuse for hybridization from manufacturers who still don’t have decent electric powertrains. The answer isn’t binary. If Tesla survives as an independent company, the sector will have to compete. Even if they don’t, the car is out of the bag. The Porsche Mission-E is coming in two years, because of Tesla. Electrification was always inevitable, but it’s here sooner because of Tesla.

“Is not the Mission-E the Tesla everyone wants, just without the Superchargers? Oh wait, Porsche is building those too, with claims of charging speeds twice as fast as Tesla’s excellent network. Musk himself said he welcomes competition. He’s certainly going to get it, because boy, he’s been handing it out in spades. He doesn’t compete on a production level, obviously, but on a conceptual level, in terms of mindshare, Tesla owns the auto sector today. I heard that 40% of global press pertaining to automotive is about Tesla. It’s no mystery why.”

Freddy Hernandez (Tavarish)

“After another successful PR stunt in which Elon Musk answers questions no one asked (truck with a 5-second 0-60 time, center seating position) with more questions no one asked (Tesla Roadster), every publication has seemingly taken the bait, regarding Tesla’s roadster concept as a “game-changer.”

“While I am interested to see if it can deliver on its performance claims (it probably can), I’m more interested in seeing if Tesla can wrangle itself free of the realities of inconsistent build quality, reliability problems, and not being particularly engaging cars to drive. I think having companies like Porsche take their time to make a bona fide Tesla killer that takes into account the consumer and injects a tried-and-tested racing pedigree can only mean good things for the future of car enthusiasm.

“The truth is, Tesla has never been up against an actual apples-to-apples competitor. It will be interesting to see what comes from such a clash. I’m not a betting man, but I might not be in Musk’s corner when that happens.”

Sean Lee

“What Tesla did to the car world is pretty amazing, and I’m saying this as a diehard petrolhead. I’m an old school kinda guy who likes three pedals on my cars and noise and the smell of gasoline. But the Roadster, for the price of 250k, will outrun a $3.5 million Bugatti or a Ferrari. Car guys are all about statistics, and knowing this, Tesla has done an amazing job with the Roadster, not to mention the truck. They are slowly changing the way petrolheads think and are reshaping the future for all of us.

“Let’s talk about Porsche — supposedly one of the more “hardcore” carmakers. The Panamera EV project is an interesting one. Porsche has kind of been trading in its heritage to make SUVs and crossovers to stay relevant in the market. And they have been very successful at it. Porsche used to produce cars with soul, but nowadays they’re in the business of “transportation.” The Mission E is the next step in this evolution, and I don’t see why they won’t succeed with it as well.

“I have to salute to Tesla and Elon Musk for his vision. The rise of the EV has truly been an amazing journey and I’m sad and happy all at the same time.”

Steven is an avid car guy and content maker at Turo. Between Golden State Warriors games he can be found getting lost somewhere in California.