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This article was published on January 29, 2021

A frustrating timeline of Tesla Roadster delays

It's been pushed back to 2022

A frustrating timeline of Tesla Roadster delays
Matthew Beedham
Story by

Matthew Beedham

Editor, SHIFT by TNW

Matthew is the editor of SHIFT. He likes electric cars, and other things with wheels, wings, or hulls. Matthew is the editor of SHIFT. He likes electric cars, and other things with wheels, wings, or hulls.

In 2020, Tesla was supposed to give us 1 million self-driving taxis and the new Roadster. We have neither, but to rub salt into the wound, the Roadster just got pushed back, again.

The Tesla Roadster was the company’s first vehicle. It was a sort of mutant offspring from high-performance electric vehicle startup AC Propulsion and British sports carmaker Lotus.

Launched in 2008, it put Tesla on the automotive map and showed that electric cars didn’t have to be dull and boring. Remember, 2008 was dominated by snooze button cars like the Toyota Prius and G-Wiz.

The Tesla Roadster used some parts from a Lotus Elise, and a drivetrain from EV startup AC Propulsion. It proved EVs could be fast, sexy, and desirable.

It was loved by Silicon Valley startup nerds, and ever since the first generation went out of production in 2012, we’ve been waiting patiently for the new version. At that time, it wasn’t clear if there ever would be another, but in 2017 Tesla frontman, Elon Musk, unveiled the future.


Back in 2017, Tesla showed off renderings and a prototype model of the new Roadster. The stats were out of this world back then, and still are today: 0-60mph in under two seconds, 1,000 km on a single charge, and a tri-motor setup said to give it 10,000 nm of torque.

As the car was revealed, and jaws were picked up from the floor, Musk announced that it would be available in 2020. But wait, 2020 was last year, and we still have no Roadster. So what happened?

tesla, roadster, model, car, ev, fast
Credit: Wikimedia - Editor928111
A pre-production demo model of the Tesla Roadster. It’s expected to be able to do a 0-62 mph in under 2 seconds.

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With no new noise to suggest the Roadster was on the way, it started to grow clear that Tesla wasn’t going to deliver on Musk’s promise. It’s a bit of a running trend for ol’ Elon: make a big promise, realize how difficult it actually is to deliver on that promise, and then set a new deadline.

In 2019, Tesla started making noise about the off-road post apocalyptic self-driving sardine tin truck, the Cybertruck. That was enough to divert attention away from the fact that we were still waiting for our goddam Roadster!

Last year, in a blow to those clamoring for the sports car, Musk said he would prioritize Cybertruck production over the Roadster. Given the Cybertruck was only unveiled at the end of 2019, it pushed the Roadster into an even more distant future.


At the end of January 2021 Musk cemented that timeline in a tweet responding to the question: what happened to the Roadster?

In the tweet, Musk says that engineering is being finished this year, with production due to start in 2022. There’s no talk about when homologation process and type approval will come though, as those are usually solid indicators that a new car isn’t too far away.

So yeah, Tesla’s coolest car is still behind schedule, but hey even if Musk does miss original deadlines, he usually comes through — eventually. So we just have to sit tight for a couple more years, but for a vehicle that’s going to be the fastest accelerating production car, it’s certainly not rushing to get here.

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