Yesterday, the world changed. A little bit, at least, if you ask me. Yesterday offered that "clicking" moment where I think a few million of us finally realized that we're living in the future; we're living in a world where science fiction has become reality. If you somehow missed it, Boston Dynamics, known for making our favorite kickable robots, unveiled the latest of their Atlas biped. Impressively, it jumped over a series of boxes, with grace yet to be seen from such a machine. But what really left an impression was the backflip that followed: self-stabilized in real time. I don't know about you, but I can't do that. As a result, it's only a matter of time before the T800 arrives and begins his search for Sarah Connor.
On any given day, that's some serious news. However, tech mogul/real-life "Tony Stark", Elon Musk, unveiled the latest from Tesla as well, and to put it simply... and there's no putting it eloquently... It's fucking nuts. Introducing the quickest car in the world: the Tesla Roadster.
It's tough to type with this much excitement. Now, I know what you're thinking. You read my Dodge Demon article, and now we're here. Yeah, I know. The key to my heart is a 0-60mph figure. But don't get it twisted: there's more to it than that. The 0-60 figure is important because it represents more than just acceleration numbers on paper. It's a hierarchy; a totem pole, so to speak. Everyone's competing for the best number, continuously pushing the limits of technology to reach new lows, and being top dog carries some serious clout. It's the benchmark of benchmarks when it comes to high performance, and if you ask me, the Tesla Roadster shows: Gas is out. Electric is in. There's a new sheriff in town.
Are you ready for it? One point nine. 1.9 seconds. 0-60 miles per hour in 1.9 seconds. Do you realize how mind-bendingly quick that is? Because it's the quickest car ever. By a lot. That sub-2 second mark has long been in the realm of lore for a street car, often assumed impossible for a production vehicle. But here we are. An all-electric, non-fossil-fuel-burning, no-smog-emitting, environmentally friendly* family 4-seater has bested the world's greatest machines. The Porsche 918 Spyder? See ya. The La Ferrari? Ciao. The Bugatti Chiron? Old news. Even Dodge's Demon can't hang in the quarter mile, as the Tesla will beat it, running 8.8s in stock form. And that's with no need for a special box of fancy parts to do it, unlike the stripped-down purpose-built Demon.
The figures get even sillier when you run the car to 100mph. It flat-out embarrasses the competition. It bests the new 911 GT2 RS to 100mph by an incredible 2.6 seconds. A Veyron? 1.5 seconds. Even the Koenigsegg One:1, with it's 2.8-million dollar price tag and "World's First Megacar" status, are no match. It'll need to find .3 seconds in order to keep up with the little Tesla. That's "Beam me sideways, Scotty"-type speed. And do I even need to begin talking about the Roadster's top speed?
Yes, of course I do. That's why we're here. If you haven't seen yet, the all-electric Tesla Roadster will carry you, your wife, and your two legless, disfigured children stuffed into what resembles a "back seat" to a staggering 250 miles per hour - a realm relegated previously only to a few 7-figure hypercars. And I believe that settles it: the Roadster is actually a Pod Racer in disguise.
So, these figures are great and all. The Tesla clearly sets a new benchmark for performance, not only in its capabilities, but in bringing those capabilities to the masses. Previously, to achieve anywhere close to the performance of the Roadster, it'd take enormous wealth: the Koenigsegg One:one, case-in-point. Now though, Joe Schmoe can join in too, for somewhere around $200,000. It's not chump change, but it's certainly a game-changer. However, I'd wager that the Roadster does something more important than go really, really fast. It goes really, really far too.
The Roadster touts a 650 mile range, and if that doesn't register, it should blow you away. For years now, the downfall of the electric car has been its general inability to go long distances without regular stops for charging, and that's if you can find a charging station. It's the one place petrol and diesel-powered cars have maintained their superiority, forcing electric car owners to, at least to some degree, plan out their trips and traveling, limited by the 200-or-so mile range of their cars. Now though, the Roadster sets a new standard. It'll make it from LA, to the Bay, and back, on a single charge. It can surpass your average car in range by a considerable amount, and begins to beg the question: "who needs gas, anyway?"
That brings us to what I feel is the most valuable part of the "Tesla Discussion." On several occasions, I've been asked about my thoughts on the future of motoring. Most enthusiasts seem to stand firm, suggesting that cars like the Prius are the antithesis of everything we love. Electric cars somehow represent the collapse of motoring in their mind. The loss of a screaming engine means the death of automotive enthusiasm as a whole, apparently, and with all the rules and legislation pushed by governmental agencies in an attempt to eliminate greenhouse gasses, it sours the general transition to hybrid and electric vehicles a bit. Instead of an organic growing quest for performance, it's a legislation-fueled quest that not everyone agrees with. Now, don't get me wrong... I love the scream of a high-strung high-0ctane motor as much as anyone else, but I urge my friends and fans to put down their pitchforks, because there's a bit more to this whole shebang.
My position has always been that, without the Prius and the hipster-vegan-hippie push for cleaner cars, we wouldn't have machines like the 918, the La Ferrari, and now, the Tesla Roadster. Despite the frustrations those folks have caused us, we do owe them at least a little credit. The growth of hybrid and electric technology over the past two decades has exploded, and because of it, we have electric cars officially surpassing the best that gasoline has to offer. And we're making the Earth at least a little bit cleaner with each step forward in performance. The government is happy, the hippies are happy, and with cars this fast, I'm happy too. It's win/win.
You're right: on a long enough time line, days at the race track will lack that symphony of howling combustion engines, and that scent of unspent race fuel will be a thing of the past. It sucks to think about, truth be told. However, the spirit of driving will never fade. The capabilities of cars will continue to improve, bringing about new benchmarks in performance and racing technology that we're likely incapable of imagining today. The future of motoring doesn't look so bad, if you're willing to stop romanticizing your senses, and instead, begin to romanticize the drive itself. Trading off the sound of a barking heel-toe downshift for the whirr of a transmission-less electric motor? Trump might be right: "This has been the worst trade deal in the history of trade deals, maybe ever." On the other hand though, disappointing your ears may be worthwhile, when you feel unparalleled acceleration of an electric car in your gut. Trust your gut.
Today, an electric car has broken records. 1.9 seconds from 0-60, 4.2 seconds from 0-100. 250 mile-per-hour top speed, and a 650 mile range. Tomorrow? Who knows what's in store. But if you give it time, and show up with an open mind, I'm confident you'll like what you see. Today, Elon Musk and Tesla have caught the world of sports cars with their pants down. The game has changed completely. In fact, I'll go so far as to say they're changing the world. The future is now, and I for one welcome our new battery-powered overlords.