Elon Musk is saying that the SpaceX package for the upcoming Tesla Roadster will add so much performance it will make other cars seem like a joke.
Or maybe it’s a joke itself? It’s really hard to tell with the mercurial Tesla CEO. When the man jokes that he wants to make flamethrowers a household appliance, and then goes out and actually makes those flamethrowers, you can’t really tell where the line is between humor and reality anymore.
At Tesla’s recent annual shareholder's meeting, Musk mostly talked to the company’s future plans when it comes to financials and production of the troubled Model 3. But there were a few words spared for the Tesla Roadster, the topless electric sports car that Musk says will now come with a SpaceX option that will make it the equal of any hypercar.
"What we unveiled with the Roadster was the base model performance,” he said to a crowded room of investors. “It's going to have a SpaceX options package. It's crazy."
Those words seemed to mirror tweets made last November when Musk revealed that the Roadster would have a “special options package” that would bring performance “to the next level."
At the time we thought he merely meant add yet more performance to an already impressive set of numbers. The Roadster is already said to reach sixty miles-per-hour from a standstill in less than two seconds, have a top speed of over 250 mph, and run a quarter mile in under nine seconds.
As it turns out, those numbers might just be for the base-level Roadster which we’ve seen prototype versions of this past year. Just last Saturday, Musk issued a few tweets that gave us a first hint at what might be in a SpaceX package to give the Roadster even better performance.
Apparently, Musk’s idea is to add rockets.
SpaceX option package for new Tesla Roadster will include ~10 small rocket thrusters arranged seamlessly around car. These rocket engines dramatically improve acceleration, top speed, braking & cornering. Maybe they will even allow a Tesla to fly …— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 9, 2018
Again, it’s hard to tell with Musk where humor ends and reality begins, but he came back to answer questions on just what those rockets might be. He explained they won’t be the same sort of booster rockets found on the SpaceX rockets (as those would be far from road-legal), but instead be Composite Overwrapped Pressure Vessels (COPV) that contain some sort of gas.
Note, gas contained would be ultra high pressure air in a SpaceX rocket COPV bottle. The air exiting the thrusters would immediately be replenished whenever vehicle pack power draw allowed operation of the air pump, which is most of the time.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 10, 2018
If it was just compressed air that would probably be safe (and road legal), but Musk once again puts things up in the air by saying it “we are going to go a lot further” than just compressed air.
Using the config you describe, plus an electric pump to replenish air in COPV, when car power draw drops below max pack power output, makes sense. But we are going to go a lot further.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 9, 2018
The Tesla Roadster has a projected release of sometime in 2020 with a base price of $200,000. There’s no telling what the SpaceX package will cost, or if it will give the Roadster limited flight capability.