On Thursday night, Elon Musk upstaged his own semi truck launch with the news that Tesla is going to build a new performance car, the Roadster. The specs certainly have the Internet ablaze this morning: a 200kWh battery and 620-mile (1,000km) range, 0-60mph in 1.9 seconds, the standing quarter-mile in 8.9 seconds, and a top speed of 250mph. That’s truly impressive—particularly if it costs just $200,000. But Musk’s claims that it will be the “fastest production car ever made, period” seem more than a little hyperbolic from where I’m sitting.
You see, we’re entering another one of those automotive arms races, where engineers and designers attempt to outdo each other in the performance stakes with ever-more extreme hypercars. Tesla will not be the only game in town. In fact, it’s only just getting ready to take to the pitch.
Supercars are passé; it’s all about the hypercar now
Supercars like the McLaren F1 and Ferrari Enzo used to be the last word in four-wheeled performance until a reborn Bugatti came along and rewrote the rules. The Veyron, which arrived in 2005, boasted an 8.0L W16 engine, 987hp (736kW), and a 253mph (407km/h) top speed. The supercar was dethroned, and the hypercar became king. But achieving massive power and bonkers performance from an internal combustion engine is old hat—even if Bugatti is sticking to the formula with the Chiron.