Who Killed The Petrol-Powered Car? The Tesla Roadster, That’s Who.

-November 17, 2017-

Who Killed The Petrol-Powered Car? The Tesla Roadster, That’s Who.

Mike Burroughs

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 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.

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Comments on Who Killed The Petrol-Powered Car? The Tesla Roadster, That’s Who.

  • Andrew Villablanca

    Always enjoy your opinion pieces, and this one is pretty spot on. I’m glad Tesla has stuck their neck out to be the company that makes electric cars desirable.

  • Doug Bunge

    Interesting opinion, as the car is still 3+ years away. I don’t have anything against it, or Tesla, but I have a hard time getting excited about vaporware, let alone feel that we can claim the future has arrived.

  • Jack White

    Another thing you may note is that they’re never on time with releases and figures are never what they initially state. I wish they made something a little… cheaper that was not quite as insane but still desirable. Between the MX5 and Lotus elise price point where handling is the draw but I don’t think that’s close or even coming, saying that the original tesla didn’t do to well though I think that has something to do with Tesla not quite being the brand they are now.

  • Gavin Stewart

    Very well put together summation of how I think a lot of us feel. As an R/C nerd Ive been waiting for electric drive-trains/conversions/tuning to become more prominent for at least a decade now. I can not wait for people to start doing EV swaps right/bring their own style to an EV swap. Up until now I feel like there have been very few EV swaps done by real gearheads. I want to see an electric rat rod with exposed motors, wiring, and motor controllers, complete with crazy full sketch battery-packs. I want to see dual-motor hot-swappable battery pack toting drift missile. I want to see a first gen 4runner with the possibility to load up extra battery-packs and other kinds of off-grid energy generators. Could be more standard like solar, wind or water, but could also be something more un-conventional like using the weight of the vehicle + gravity + a winch type generator to replenish energy stocks.

  • Michael Burroughs

    I think it’s important to note that it’s not so much saying that the Tesla Roadster is definitively THE car that is the future. Instead, it’s a proof of concept and a beacon to show where we’re headed. In all, I had hoped people would realize that my article is less about the Tesla itself (despite how it may read) and instead, it’s more about what is to come. The future of electric cars is inevitable. The train is leaving the station and can’t be stopped. I think we should hop on board, as enthusiasts.

  • Jack Scharr

    Yeah, the tesla roadster is good. The best, maybe. But like the veyrons, chirons, and laferraris, they’re all out of the common person’s league. And it puts rich people in the winner’s circle, which is exactly what EA has done with its games of late. That takes fun.exe and puts it straight in the recycle bin. Maybe it’s just because I’m too poor to buy one, maybe it’s because i don’t want the end result without building it myself. And maybe I’ll change my opinion when I’m 40 and don’t have any time for wrenching. We’ll see. For now, i want combustion noises.
    End rant.

  • Michael Burroughs

    Take a step back and look at the progression of where this technology is heading. Before the Tesla, performance like this couldn’t be touched for less than a million dollars. Several million is more like it. And now, it’s just $200,000. Neither you nor I can afford it, but watch as the technology continues. It’s only a matter of time before the layman can.

  • Alex Long

    Wow! Even stance works has drank the Koolaide…. First, Elon Musk is nothing but a snake oil salesman. He announces a new vehicle with outrageous performance claims and everyone bites, hook line and sinker. He claims it to be the “worlds fastest car” which is clearly wrong as his supposed estimated top speed is well short of Bugatti, Konigsegg, Hennessy, etc. He claims it will go 600 miles on a charge which is total BS. Tesla doesn’t have the technology. As a matter of fact his battery technology is so behind he approached BMW to try and get a license to make or buy their battery technology from the i3/i8 which is years ahead of Tesla, and BMW politely declined. Now a year or two later Tesla says they will have a car capable of going 600 miles per charge in 3 years..?? Where did the technology come from??

    Folks this is what is happening.

    Tesla is in big financial trouble. The model 3, which was supposed to make the company profitable is DOA. Tesla was supposed to start cranking out 10-15 thousand units per month starting in July, and at this point, November, they have hardy made that many in 5 months. The company is hemoraging cash, to the point that Musk had to put several hundred million of his own money into the company in the last year to keep the lights on. They fire 700, yes 700 engineering and management workers recently. A total brain drain from the company, a lot of these people are not replaceable.

    What do you do when you want to divert attention away from a problem. You distract everyone with a “pretty and shinny” bauble or in other words the new Tesla Roadster. Don’t think for a second that the timing is coincidental. The stock price took a hit recently over deliver and manufacturing issues of the model 3 and a lot of investors are starting to grumble. If the stock price takes a huge drop, the company is a goner. So what do you do. Make brash headlines with an increadible new product, which by the way won’t be available for 3 years…. but look its shinny and fantastic and from the future…. All sizzle and no steak…

    Don’t get me wrong I have nothing against electric cars in general. I just hope everyone sees Musk for the Charlatan he is.

  • Delvin Allman

    Ding ding ding! Winner! Also keep in mind we are all helping to pay for these super rich folks to buy these cars with the $7500 rebate

  • Linh Kiều

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  • Pedro Azevedo

    Bugatti is always what people talk when comparing new supercars. Was that with the veyron and now with the chiron. Comparing a tesla roadster with a chiron it’s like comparing a Omega watch with a Patek Phillipe. Both are fine watchs, well built and good looking and the Omega counts and show time exactly as the Patek, costing a fraction. There always be market for million dollar cars

  • Acacer Paolo

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  • Doug Wandell

    Seriously, this is one of the most ill-informed, biased posts I have ever read. Nearly every sentence is inaccurate.

    Model 3 is DOA: wrong… where did you get this? Cite some evidence.
    10-15 thousand units promised by July: wrong – again, cite a source.
    Hemorrhaging cash: This is the closest thing to a fact in your entire post and yes, the burn rate is alarming, has been for years. What is your point?
    Fired 700 engineering & management workers: eng & mgmt were -among- the fired workers. Given your clear ideological bias, are you really backing the union here against the company’s right to trim underperformers? So again, wrong
    Stock price took a hit: OK, but wrong because of the complete lack of context. Tesla stock: 5-day trend is up, 1-month is flat and 1-year is up like 75%. The 22% hit the stock took is clearly already recovering well. Maybe that is due to the interest (and preorders) that you conveniently do not mention.

    Seriously, 10 minutes of research shoots holes through your nonsense. Put down the Forbes and WSJ for few minutes. Try some objectivity.

  • Doug Wandell

    “Maybe that is due to the interest (and preorders) that you conveniently do not mention.” I was referring to the Tesla Semi, sorry.

  • Jaime Rodriguez

    “The loss of a screaming engine means the death of automotive enthusiasm as a whole”
    It is not just about the music that an engine is capable of producing (as long as we talking carburetors or indirect fuel injection, D.I. ruined the petrol engine), it is also the romantic experience that it brings to a car, how it makes it feel.

    “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.”
    Maybe there is some of us that did not not want any of those machines. You know, Carrera GT and GTO/F40/F50 kind of guys.
    Yeah, you can keep the Enzo, there is no place for flappy paddles wen it comes to driving nirvana.

    “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.”
    DO NOT CARE. The same way that I do not care about, what?, 90% of the cars ever created.
    It is all about, for driving enthusiast at least, how the car makes you feel behind the wheel. To put it in context, that is way the new NSX will never be even a tenth of fun to drive than Ayrton Senna’s. Faster? Sure, a lot; but, engaging? Desirable in a I-am-getting-out-of-bed-earlier-so-I-can-enjoy-me-being-one-with-the-car-and-the-road-and-the-enviroment kind of way? Never.

    Anyway, as long as they let both things share the road, you can enjoy your Tesla at 250 mph, while I be having a blast bending corners at 80 mph in my S2000.

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  • Deniss Fedotovs

    Still don’t see many electric cars winning the races. So there is still something important missing…

  • Michael Burroughs

    The answer there is pretty obvious – it’s batter longevity.

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