Is It Even Possible for a Street-Legal Tesla Roadster To Hit 60 Mph in Under One Second?

Tesla Roadster promises 0-60 in under 1 second 12 photos
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Elon Musk raised the stakes for the upcoming Tesla Roadster by promising a 0-60 mph time of under one second. This is less than the 1.1-second time announced in 2017 when the Roadster 2.0 was unveiled. However, making it possible on a street-legal car might be more challenging than just bragging about it on social media.
Although many people paid $50,000 deposits to secure their place in line for the upcoming Tesla Roadster, the electric sportscar has been massively overshadowed by the Cybertruck and the Model 3 Highland refresh. As much as people would want an iconic model from Tesla as soon as possible, everyone agreed that the Roadster is not a priority. Tesla is working now on the Gen-3 EVs, including an affordable compact rumored to cost under $25,000, and it doesn't need another distraction.

However, Elon Musk begged to differ, as he offered a rare update on social media about Tesla's plans. Besides confirming that the next-generation Roadster is still on the menu, Musk significantly raised the bar in terms of what the future sportscar is capable of. Musk described the move as "radically increasing the design goals," with the most important metric being the 0-60 mph acceleration time. Instead of the previous 1.1 seconds, the Roadster 2.1 is supposed to achieve the same feat in less than a second.

Musk's words set the internet on fire, leaving many scratching their heads about how such a swift acceleration might be possible. Previously, Musk talked about "cold gas thrusters" developed by SpaceX, enabling not only an acceleration boost but also directional corrections for better cornering. Musk thinks this technology can provide more substantial benefits because he still mentioned that this insane performance will be possible thanks to Tesla's collaboration with SpaceX.

The Roadster 2.0 will use SpaceX technology

Whether this is possible with current technology or even street legal is still up for debate. Many consider the cold gas thrusters too noisy to use on public roads. They could also project particles around, thus becoming a hazard for other people or vehicles. And then, there are the physical limitations. You can achieve insanely brisk acceleration if you put enough power on the wheels and make the car sufficiently light. But only if the wheels maintain enough grip.

This is why Top Fuel dragsters have such big traction wheels, and sportscars use big, slick tires. Sometimes, the tiniest tens of seconds are the most difficult to achieve, which is why engineers must develop creative solutions. Creating downforce from the get-go is impossible without using a fan to suck up the air from the car. The McLaren F1 had two Kevlar fans underneath for this purpose. Since Musk owned one, he must be considering a similar solution for the Roadster.

Then, there's a whole different discussion about what an acceleration time of less than a second means for the driver and the passenger. This is dragster territory or a catapult launch on an airplane carrier. Accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in less than a second equals an acceleration of over 2.7 G, and few people are prepared to resist it. Think about blood draining out of your brain if you're in the wrong position, causing you to pass out. That's not something you'd want when you're inside a wheeled rocket that needs your guidance.

Street-legal Tesla Roadster? Probably not

However, at this stage, it's less important how Tesla would achieve 0-60 in under one second, especially as the final product might end up very differently from the one in Musk's dreams. Remember how the Cybertruck was promised to go over 500 miles on a charge and float to cross bodies of water, only for the final product to fall short by a lot? And that's not even a bad thing. Imagine how a regular guy would use all that power on a public road, assuming the Roadster would still be road-legal.

That's far from guaranteed, though, especially when considering Elon Musk's own words. "There will never be another car like this, if you could even call it a car," said Musk. That's the punch line that made many people think this will end up being more a rocket than a car. This doesn't mean that a more toned-down version of the Roadster would not be possible. I'm sure engineers at Tesla are already busting their heads on how to talk some sense into Elon Musk without risking their careers.

What's clear to me is that this is the beginning of another string of crazy features that might be added to the upcoming Roadster. Expect to read more Musk tweets about the forthcoming sportscar, one crazier than the other. And while this would keep the Roadster topic fresh for those who paid $50K for a reservation, it's sure to cause more delays down the road. After all, the Tesla team will first try to add all those features before deciding they are technically impossible or simply too cumbersome to implement.
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About the author: Cristian Agatie
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After his childhood dream of becoming a "tractor operator" didn't pan out, Cristian turned to journalism, first in print and later moving to online media. His top interests are electric vehicles and new energy solutions.
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