Tesla Roadster, credited by some for launching the EV revolution, is turning 15 years old today. While we celebrate the original Roadster, there’s still no sign of the new version that Tesla promised.
While the Tesla Roadster wasn’t exactly a successful vehicle program on its own, it did succeed in its goal to show that you can have a compelling electric vehicle that can compete with gas-powered cars in its segment – sports cars, in this case.
As a vehicle program it didn’t turn out great, with only about 2,000 units produced and the early production batches having to be worked on a lot as Tesla failed to successfully merge technologies from early partners AC Propulsion and Lotus.
After those first few difficult batches in 2008 and 2009, Tesla started to hit its stride and made many happy costumers with the Roadster; many of them are still using their vehicles more than a decade latter.
Today, Tesla celebrated the 15th anniversary of the first Tesla Roadster deliveries:
It’s truly a day to celebrate for EV enthusiasts since there’s a strong argument to be made that the original Tesla Roadster launched the resurgence of electric vehicles in the 2000s after the last attempt to revive the technology died in the 1990s.
It also launched Tesla into the EV powerhouse that it is today. Again, the program itself wasn’t super successful, but Tesla learned a lot from the original Roadster and it used that knowledge to build the Model S, which was its first vehicle built by itself from the ground up.
The rest is history.
The new Tesla Roadster
When first unveiling the next-generation Tesla Roadster in 2017, it surprised many, but the reason made sense. Tesla now wanted to unveil a “halo car” that would clearly show that if you want to have the best car possible, it has to be electric.
At the time of the unveiling in 2017, CEO Elon Musk said that it would come to market in 2020.
Tesla started taking reservations at the unveiling event for the impressive electric supercar that goes zero to 60 mph in 1.9 seconds with over 600 miles of range. People who wanted to be first in line to get the vehicle had to put down between $50,000 and $250,000 in deposits.
The vehicle program was later delayed, and the CEO said that it wasn’t a priority for Tesla.
In 2020, Musk hinted at the Tesla Roadster being delayed until 2022 as the automaker focuses on the Cybertruck.
In 2021, the CEO confirmed that the new vehicle will indeed not come to market until 2022.
Later, Musk confirmed that it is now delayed until at least 2023. Furthermore, the CEO said that its arrival will depend on how much “drama” Tesla goes through in 2022.
We haven’t heard much from Tesla about the Roadster, but Tesla still lists the production as “in development” at a location “to be determined”:
I am huge fan of the original Roadster, and I’m in the camp that gives it a lot of credit for launching the EV revolution. I think that without it, we would probably be 5-10 years behind where we are now.
As for the new Roadster, I understand why it’s not a priority for Tesla; high volume EV programs are more important.
However, the mission of a “halo car” is still important in my opinion, and Tesla did use the vehicle to save the company in 2018-2019. It was a difficult time for the company and using the Roadster as part of its referral program helped create a ton of publicity for Tesla.
Five years later, the vehicle program is still delayed even though Tesla took millions of dollars in deposit for the vehicle and promised it as a reward to many Tesla enthusiasts who help promote the company.
At the very least, Tesla should be more transparent about what is happening with the Roadster program. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.
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