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Tesla Roadster (tesla.com)
1261 points by franl on Nov 17, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 708 comments

Am I the only one who's worried that Tesla is really starting to bite off more than they can chew? Right now their finances are a mess, they are publicly struggling to produce their most important car ever, their CEO is spending time figuring out how to dig holes underneath LA...and now they're announcing a semi truck and a roaster in the same day? Don't get me wrong, Teslas are incredible cars. But this seems like an overreach considering they are struggling to figure out how to meet demand on the Model 3. It's also insane to announce this car with what boils down to a bunch of CGI! These are some very bold announcements and there isn't much explanation for how these goals will be met. I hope this all turns out as advertised, but I'm very skeptical.

You have been reading too many finance blogs. Their finances are far from a mess, they are just not what finance people like to see. They have cash on hand and a roadmap to execute on. If they don't execute they will go out of business, and they will take my money as an investor with them. I'm OK with that and as long as they continue to have a path to profitability I am all on board. I want to see them burning money to get market share, especially as they do something new. The idea that companies must always operate within a specific set of financial metrics is why GE is going out of business

If Amazon listened to those same finance blogs that are chastising Tesla, they wouldn't be where they are today. Wall Street hates companies that invest every cent they make into future growth; they want solid companies like GE and IBM that pay out regular profits to investors, and end up old dinosaurs because they didn't invest in innovation.

The market analysts and financial blogs may hate companies like AMZN and TSLA, but Bezos and Musk will be laughing all the way to the bank because they didn't focus on short-term profits at the cost of long-term innovation.

Remember, every company on this planet has to constantly reinvent itself, or it will be disrupted by someone else. Musk is doing that. Don't listen to the financial blogs and analysts.

Amazon could have had a wildly profitable quarter by slightly slowing their expansion. Doing so would not kill the company.

It's not clear if Tesla can do the same.

There was a time in the past where Amazon could not have done that at all.

Sure, but how many companies have been in the same position and failed?

If they retooled to maximize profitability now they would not be worth the multiple they are.

> Their finances are far from a mess, they are just not what finance people like to see. They have cash on hand and a roadmap to execute on.

In other words, their finances are a mess. Negative free cash flow of $1.4b in the most recent quarter with $3.5b in the bank is cutting it very close. They're going to have to raise a ton more capital or issue debt just to execute on the Model 3, let alone all the other stuff they keep talking about (anyone remember the Solar Roof?). Their recently issued junk bonds are already trading off par, another issue is going to be expensive.

Spending money while building out your main product pipeline is perfectly acceptable to me. How many quarters of runway would you want them to hold on hand? If in six months when their cash on hand gets low they can issue a new round of funding and investors can decide if its worth pumping more money into the company or if they won't be able to turn a profit. This would be the exact behavior you get from any company in a high growth phase, the only difference is most of the time the only people who get a look at the books of these companies are the investment firms who lead crazy valuation rounds since the public doesn't have access to pre IPO startups.

That's kind of the point though - it's much more acceptable (to the markets) for a private company to be doing crazy things, low runway, etc, because if the company goes broke, the damage is limited to 'skilled' investors (those with enough means and know-how to get in on the investment). If a public company goes bust (which is the risk here) the damage is much more widespread, and will undoubtedly hit retail investors as well as professionals.

I bought a bunch of put options on the cheap, so I'm betting on reckoning next year, but not a bankruptcy.

Based on their valuation being too high for where they are, I'm guessing they'll do a share offering to get cash. This could cause they're shares to tumble and I'll make 400-1200% or not. I'm ok with writing off such a small bet, but wow what a fun ride it'll be to see how this all turns out.

Exactly. As a small investor in them I fully support them. Even if I lose all my money I know it went to cool research that has benefit the progress of science in a cool way.

I mean, that's fine and dandy, but then you're really just donating your money to "science" and not investing it. Which goes back to the original claim that their finances are a mess.

I have done the same with two fusion energy companies, almost zero chance of payback but always the slim chance for a breakthrough to save the world. Think of it as a lottery ticket for rich and middle income people. Tesla is a lottery ticket that will probably pay dividends many years down the line, and if not they have at least kickstarted a better future.

you are a good person.

> struggling to produce their most important car ever

Isn't this part of not executing the roadmap as planned? Put another way, how do you know if they are on the right trajectory to profitability? How much are they ahead/behind?

Tesla projected that it would produce 5K Model 3s per week by the end of 2017. In all of Q3 they produced 260! That kind of shortfall is clearly not part of any plan, unless it's one drawn up by GM and Ford. Source: http://autoweek.com/article/green-cars/tesla-model-3-product...

GM and Ford would be good at drawing up plans like that since its fairly common for production to be delayed on new car designs



They also moved this timetable up a year due to high demand, meaning more CapEx required. A few months won't scare people in the know, and thinking this would work without a hitch would have been naive anyway.

And they will when you adjust for Elon time.

Kidding aside they've been in much worse situations before, it just wasn't nearly as public because it was well before their IPO.

A three month delay on their first mass market car is hardly struggling. We get insight into where they are on that road map every three months. Come February they will have slipped even more, made up some of that delay or stayed three months behind. Right now they have more then enough money to get them to May of next year, if they miss again in Februrary and then can't raise more funds they need to change their plan.

> If they don't execute they will go out of business

Well this is exactly the concern. Tesla seems to be struggling to execute on their plan to build Model 3s.

when it comes to finance, it matters what finance people want to see

I took this video. I assure you it is real

No doubt, but sped up at the moment of acceleration.

nope. Did not speed it up. Straight from photos app on my phone to Twitter

Your comment reveals that you don't know what you're talking about. Very fast cars are rare so their rate of acceleration looks strange to someone that's not used to it.

What makes you say this?

The people around the car jerk a bit. Could be camera motion, scared spectators, altered video; I’m not an expert.

I'm curious as to why you choose to believe that their was a conspiracy to release a sped up video rather than the fact that the car really is just that quick. Cognitive dissonance? Shorting Tesla stock?

It's not like you're mentally deficient or anything so there has to be a logical reason in your mind as to why you ended up thinking this. I would be very keen to know what that is.

I don't think it's altered video. I'm just describing possible things that people could see in that video, which might lead to that conclusion:

1. an odd camera motion;

2. scared spectators jerking; or,

3. altered video.

I do, however, think the people downvoting me have significant reading comprehension problems. However, that's a thing they will have to reflect on, internally, and has no bearing on me.

You started off with a claim that the video was sped up (i.e. _altered_). I'm not sure anyone downvoting you has a problem reading.

He's not the one that made the claim. Look at the usernames.

oh, whoops

prove this :)

God damn....that acceleration is almost cartoon-like.

I'm kinda sad about the $200k price tag. I was planning on budgeting $125k for my next car in 2022. Obviously options have yet to be announced, but I'd really like to see a 100 kwh option for a cheaper price. That would give about a 300 mile range which would be plenty for me. Considering they announced 200 kwh as the base though, I'm not exactly holding my breath.

I think that the 200kwh battery pack is probably important for getting the instantaneous power out of the pack to hit their performance numbers.

More battery cells in parallel = more current draw. The range is probably more of a bonus side effect of having enough battery cells to hit the power and acceleration targets.

Yep, this is why Tesla's current flagship is the P100D, rather than a P75D. The larger battery gives you better performance, even though it's heavier.

Despair not. The new Roadster will likely have some good competition by 2022.

I hope so.

I've been waiting for details on the next Roadster for quite a while now, really on the edge of my seat for the price. My plan was to get a Nissan GT-R in 2021 if the Roadster ended up being too expensive.

But since it was announced and too expensive, I'm still on the fence. I don't want to spend $120k on a GT-R and feel disappointed that I settled. I'm thinking I'll just have to save money for a couple years to make a serious down payment. Maybe I'll pick one up used depending on what kind of warranty Tesla will offer on a used one.

Only problem there is, I expect Tesla won't be making very many of these for at least the first few years, so I doubt they'll depreciate much, if at all, on the used market. Could actually sell at a premium, as you see with other hard to buy supercars.

You can probably get a P150D or whatever it will be at that time. Which will give you Roadster like acceleration, probably 400-500 mile range, and will still be a family sedan.

I don't want a family sedan, I want a small, reasonably agile coupe. My current car is a Subaru BRZ. I want something that still has that kind of handling.

Have you test-driven a Tesla Model S?

No, I haven't. I've been told they handle really well for their size and weight since the center of gravity is so low, but that they still don't handle super tight like a sports car.

Don't be sad. In 4 years, the price will likely be back down near your budget range, once mass market production kicks in.

This video freezes right before the excitement, I can tell because the sound keeps going. I blame a very complex conspiracy.

Safari doesn't grok the video on my setup. Firefox does.

Had the same issue in Safari, it worked in Chrome though.

Founder series limited to 1000 requires full deposit, that's $250 mil

Base model requires $45k deposit.

Not sure what semi requirements are.

Even if they are biting off more than they can chew, they can gauge reaction and devote more/less to this. I'm thinking that these ventures give their engineers a space to get really creative and push the envelope. And, these advancements make their way into the mainstream models.

$250mil sounds a lot - until you remember they currently burn through $400mil of cash in a month

They also just laid off a ton of people, so maybe that burn rate is going to lower quite a bit.

$400M a month would be equivalent to ~20k full time engineer's total compensation, so I doubt layoffs will put a serious dent in it.

Good point.

They laid off "a ton of people" but a small fraction of their workforce, not affecting their burn rate much. Watch out for those financial press headlines, Tesla is one of the most shorted stocks out there.

oh please. they're putting money into R&D and into the ramp up. Your statement makes it sound like they're using the money to wipe their @$$es. No, they're putting the money to work. And if the analysts and shareholders didn't believe that, the stock would tank.

Very true. Belief - not actual results - is what is behind Tesla's valuation.

Is Tesla that different from Amazon 15 years ago?

Net income was flat but the revenue kept going up.

I think that may be the core point of why they are doing this. They are in a cash crunch, if they get enough deposits it can certainly help their bottom line... without dilution.

Developing a car like to a car to that state (drivable at the event) will have taken 2 or 3 years already so I doubt it originally started as a fix for cash flow.

Agreed, but I would be surprised if that didn’t play into the math. One of Elon’s greatest strengths is to think ahead strategically and position himself for maximum upside towards his goals. So yes, I am sure he didn’t think he would need this to help with Model 3, but I am sure he knew he would need more cash on hand to make another “big bet”. Unfortunately it looks like this cash will go to current projects rather than a brand new initiative. Unless of course this was to help with Tesla Semi...

What's even more amazing is that F or GM couldn't possibly do this. First mover advantage plus the allure of someone like Musk is what is needed. I know many bash him for spreading himself too thin among all his other ambitions but it gives him good will capital (which can translate to economic capital) when needed.

Ford or GM couldn't possibly do what? Pre-sales? The new Ford GT cost $450K and will only be available to select buyers during the first production year. I imagine GM does something similar with the higher-end Corvettes. Dodge did the same with Viper.

If they need more cash then they can just have another investor round. There's enough fan boys that would invest.

I would prefer that Ford and GM not do this... I don't see how producing a $250,000 car will help the common folk, which is who Ford and GM serves.

Tesla had first mover advantage with their Model 3 and now they are floundering. GM's Chevy Bolt is out producing and out selling the Model 3 despite first movers advantage and all the 'good will' Tesla generated... Despite people saying 'GM could never do this'.

I also don't know why you would say Ford or GM couldn't do it when they produce vehicles that race in Nascar and have R&D for that sport.

Ford and GM are mature companies and expected to actually make money, while Tesla is expected to make good will and headlines.

I'll be more excited when Tesla meets their originally projected production numbers.

Don't underestimate the importance of these flagship cars. They serve a purpose. Why do you think Ford has the GT? They are a test bed for new technologies and increase brand prestige.

I'll note the original date for the 5k and 10k/week numbers were end of 2018 and 2020. Musk pushed it by 2yrs so "floundering" seems unfair here.

Ford does produce cars that are not for the "common folk". Same with Mercedes, BMW, etc.

Ford and GM can absolutely do this. Tesla is "hot", but Ford is successful.

People underestimating the big players and cars aren't thinking about the economics right. Ford markets are almost two orders of magnitude more than Tesla is producing. If Ford sees the global opportunity to sell 10-20 million EVs a year they'll build the crap out of them.

Ford sells pieces of shit and then tells you you're crazy every time you report a problem -- until a month after your last complaint when there's a company-wide recall.

I am never doing anything that gives them my money again.

Source: [ashamed] owner of Ford for 3+ years.

Focus RS head gasket failure per chance?


I think this is the one. http://fordpowershiftlawsuit.com/

"First mover advantage" is a concept that applies to platforms, and not to a millionaire status symbol/fashion statement. Most people spending $200,000+ on a vehicle want to be among the only people at the country club with it. This looks like a hot car, but I wouldn't hesitate to test drive Aston Martins or Ferrari's if I was playing with that kind of cash.

Also, GM and Ford do highly profitable business with the wealthy - Ford pickups are the most owned vehicle among millionaires and Cadillac keeps turning profits that Musk should envy.

They DID show a monster of a pickup truck at the unveiling as well. It's almost like a /second/ roadster but aimed at the millionaire truck lover. Of course, they aren't taking reservations for that because someone probably convinced Musk the number of rich truck lovers who also would love electric is small enough that it's not yet worth spending too much energy on the idea.

They did? I watched it and never saw a pickup truck.

Here: https://electrek.co/2017/11/17/tesla-pickup-truck-first-imag...

It's based on the semi truck. They didn't announce reservations for it or anything. It might be fair to call it a concept truck at this time, but I doubt it's the last we'll see of it.

They have planned this for years. The "new roadster" and even plaid has been announced for years. More than that, Production starts 3 YEARS from now. If they still have model 3 problems by then, I'll be surprised.

> It's also insane to announce this car with what boils down to a bunch of CGI!

They had multiple real Roadsters at the announcements. You can see a red one in the main event video, and there are pictures of a silver one on Twitter.

Yeah, it's just so odd that their website has the ultra fake video to demonstrate the 1.9 second 0-60 time!

That's because the actual ones can't make that time.

They absolutely seem to, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXWfL-1ieuE for example...

Absolutely nothing happens until the very end: https://youtu.be/aXWfL-1ieuE?t=3369

That’s exactly why they need this. They are running out of money. $250k reservations provide cash now and the promise of a semi might convince more investors to invest.

Tesla is already established in the business of luxury electric cars. It's the low cost ones that seem to be the challenge.

Yes. It is only human to be worried. They lose money on every car they sell. And the losses are accelerating. If you bought $TSLA at $300. And are looking to hold on for dear life. The next 12-24 months is gut check time.

But there is so much to be optimistic about! Uber or Lyft or Didi could place 100K size orders of Model 3s for their driverless fleets, with substantial support contracts, by 2019. Powerwalls may become standard components in emerging market power grids in the global sun belt. And envisioning charging stations as travel lounges or overnight rest stops is a stealth real estate and hospitality investment.

Tesla is acting as if the Model 3 will change the game. My personal bias is that the analysts are neglecting the raw consumer demand for this brave new electrical world. And if that holds true, continuing to raise cash to finance their production via stock, debt or pre-orders shouldn't be the hard part. Especially if 12 month price targets in the $350-375 range hold ;)

They don't lose money on every car they sell. Because they have a lot of NRE and other capital expenses they start out deeply in the hole before they sell any cars. But each extra car they sell after that hole increases their profits by something like $20,000 so they're making a lot of money when they sell cars even if their net divided by the number of cars sold is negative.

Did you not watch the presentation? They're not going to start producing it for another 2 years.

Hold on its not cgi, its a real car.

just dont give them money upfront and maybe the reality will take care of the rest.

Has the 8 second quarter mile been confirmed to be done in stock trim (i.e., no special tires or other modifications)?

The reason I ask is because that is EXTREMELY impressive. I tune EFI systems on race cars as a hobby, and any car in the 8 second range usually needs to run slicks or drag radials to have enough traction.

Even all wheel drive cars (GTRs, DSMs, EVOs, etc.) usually run 4 slicks once they get to that speed.

It seems very hard to make a pass like that on regular street tires, even with AWD.

EDIT: To add, I'm not knocking Tesla here, as there are very few cars that can actually run an 8 second pass off the showroom floor without any modifications at all. Even if they had to put slicks on the car to reach that time, that still puts it on par with 1000 HP dedicated drag cars.

Yes but in those cars traction control is usually off. In Tesla extremely precise traction control may work in your favour giving only as much power as tires can handle effectively allowing to near zero time loss on regaining tracktion. In quarter mile cars you don't have option, either tire will handle all that power or slip causing time loss.

Modern high-end aftermarket EFI systems (such as MoTeC) do have traction control, but it's not as effective as one would expect.

The main issue I found is that street tires often just don't have the traction required, even under ideal conditions. The result is that traction control has to cut power so much that it ends up hurting the quarter mile times.

It does help tremendously on consistency and safety though. Things start to pucker when all four wheels start hazing in a 1000 HP AWD car.

You seem familiar, but for others, here's what a typical 8 second car looks like leaving the line:




Notice how massive the rear tires are.

EDIT: Added picture of an 8 second all wheel drive car (GTR). The interesting thing here is the clear bias of traction towards the rear. When launching a car with that much power, the weight shifts towards the rear enough to render the front wheels almost useless (unless the suspension is extremely stiff).


I suspect Tesla's advantage is in linear acceleration. Those internal combustion cars need a gearbox so the initial acceleration is very high in that first gear. This the same reason the Navy wants to go from steam to electric catapults: you get the plane to the same speed off the cat, but the acceleration curve is straight, so there's lower peak load on the airframe, so your planes last longer. Similarly, the Tesla can keep linear acceleration with gear shifts.

Right but to hit an 8 second 1/4 you're trap speed is 170-190 depending on how fast your 1/8 mile was. There simply isn't even distance to accelerate linearly in 1/4 to hit 8 seconds without leaving the line like a bat out hell.

The suspension on most of these cars is also far from normal. There's very few cars in the world which make an8 second pass on independent rear suspension. Most of these cars have straight axles and 4 link suspension.

I really want to see a Tesla Roadster make an 8 second pass with whatever tires it needs because tires alone won't get you there. They got some serious engineering in that thing to make it hit 8 seconds with a suspension that doesn't make you hate life.

Accelerating at 1.28g (41.25 ft/s2) for 8 seconds will get you to exactly a quarter mile.

  x = 0.5*a*t^2 = 0.5 * 41.25 ft/s2 * (8s)^2 = 1320 ft = 1/4 mi
Under that acceleration, your final speed is 225 mph

  v = a*t = 41.25 ft/s2 * 8s = 330 ft/s = 225 mph

Accelerating at > 1g off the line has its own set of issues - without extra downforce from somewhere you have traction problems regardless of tires, street tires just make it worse.

This is why you see so many approx 2.9s 0-60 times in higher end sports cars, it's hard for aerodynamics to affect it much over the first couple of seconds.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't downforce an aerodynamic issue? There are no aerodynamics at 0 mph. You do have a torque problem, but the Tesla is actually a fairly heavy car, is it not? Also, isn't Tesla's center of mass pretty near the same height as the axles? So it's not like the rear end is going to get under the front end.

Sorry, i just worded it badly. The point is that without downforce, you can't overcome the traction issue. To a first approximation at 1g accel from a standing start, your resulting force vector is at 45 degrees (mass at 1g down, accel at 1g forward). Accelerating harder just makes the problem worse. At speed, the answer to this is downforce (e.g. how F1 cars can corner as fast as they can).

But for the first couple of seconds, you can't generate much downforce from aerodynamics because you aren't going fast enough. And there are limits to what a spoiler, etc. can generate. For a lot of street legal sports cars, this all evens out about the same way, and they end up with very similar 0-60 times.

If you try and systematically knock down all of these problems, you'll end up with a top fuel car. In that case you may get ~1000lb of downforce from exhaust alone, which gets you past the first bit while you are going too slow for the big wing to be really effective.

To clarify, it's 8.8 seconds, which is still absurdly fast, but that 0.8s makes a gigantic difference.

There are some IRS cars capable of going 8's. The ones I've seen the most are GTRs, Supras, and the occasional 2JZ/LSx swapped 240sx (I think they swap a Nissan/Infiniti Q45 rear into it or something).

Now that the 2015+ Mustang has IRS, I expect to see more of them as well. I think there's already one in the 8's.

But yeah, IRS is a major pain at that power level. Most (all?) of the performance cars today have IRS, so I expect improvements to come.

Wow, the buckling of the tire wall in the last two pictures is crazy. I guess that happens because there is enough friction to stop the wheel moving, and the axle is trying to turn it faster, causing a shear force. With normal tires, I assume they would just slip at that point and spin because they don't have enough friction in the contact patch touching the road.

Yep! The tires are actually designed to do that. It really helps to prevent things from snapping by absorbing some of the shock when the cars drop the clutch or let go of the trans brake.

So the tires are acting like torsion springs then?

It increases the footprint of the tire at the start, giving the car more grip. Here is a video: https://youtu.be/-VF0JwxQqcA?t=10m42s

Thanks, that's really interesting - there's some amazing technology going into what I had previously assumed was a fairly boring static (modulo the rotation, of course) component of these vehicles.

And what if the battery weight is nearer axle centerline than an ICE?

I'll be amazed, amazzzzed, if that car, stock, can create enough down force to keep itself on the road with stock tires, I don't care how good your TC is. Look at the size of the wing on the new Zr1 https://youtu.be/O_adY_b-aLQ?t=3m14s

Downforce is more than the wing. You see those giant diffusers in the back? Those work as venturi tunnels, creating a sucking force, sticking the car down.

As a matter of fact, F1 cars in the 70s-80s were using venturi tunnels that extended the entire length of the vehicle. This is impractical in a modern gasoline-powered car.

Theu were even getting so good with their aerodynamics that they were rumoured to be generating more downforce with ground effects than from wings.

In an electric car, you could do what they were doing back then.

I guess I'll be eating my hat then. I'm pretty amazed that you'll be able to keep it planted that fast around corners, but if you can, this will be an incredibly fun (or maybe very boring!) car to drive.

And the Roadster doesn't have real side skirts to seal up the tunnel, which significantly degrades any diffuser downforce.

Just pretend, the same way they do with the claims about the GTR's ~0-degree wing, and most all aero claims on street-legal cars.

Aero at street legal speeds is basically worthless and range-destroying. Many supercars don't have more aero than the Roadster, just go look at them, they usually either have no wing, like the Lambo Huracan, or a wing with virtually no angle of attack.

Wing shouldn't matter all that much in this case. Grip is most important in the initial moments of acceleration on the drag strip where having a wing isn't quite as important. This car[1] runs in the 7s without a wing at all.

[1] http://st.hotrod.com/uploads/sites/21/2017/09/149-test-tune-...

Does it have a willy bar? It's also gonna be pretty heavy with lots of torque when it hits off the line.

Fair! That said, I do doubt those cars weigh close to the same. :)

Oh absolutely. That car is almost certainly a tube frame with a fiberglass shell.....was what I was going to say but then I looked into it and actually it's still sheet metal and weighs 3800 pounds. It has run a 6.987, and probably has north of 2,000 horsepower. Oh and it is street legal.

I'm confused. :( You think the hotrod will weigh the same as or more or less than the new roadster? I looked around and I couldn't find the roadster weight anywhere.

Here is a gutted Model S P100D (4460 lb, 2 motors, 100kWh battery) running a 10.4 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dO8sXUGfjWQ

Roadster will be lighter, have a better drag coefficient, 2x the power (1500hp), 3 motors, 200 kWh battery (?).

According to Electrek's ride along the wheels are "fat" - 325mm rear/295mm front. Dodge Demon's are 315/40R18 Nitto NT05R. https://electrek.co/2017/11/17/new-tesla-roadster-halo/

Should be close!

> Even if they had to put slicks on the car to reach that time, that still puts it on par with 1000 HP dedicated drag cars.

Horsepower is a misleading figure, because 1000 HP means a maximum of 1000 HP at some engine RPM. So, in other words, if a gasoline car delivers 100 HP @ 0-2000 RPM, and only delivers 1000 HP between 5500-6000 RPM, we call it 1000 HP.

The Tesla delivers its power constantly, from 0 RPM and — more importantly — its torque is also constant and available from 0 RPM. Add to this the fact that an electronic drive train can adjust the power independently for each wheel 100 times per second, which is simply impossible for a combustion engine (mechanical parts transferring that much power can’t switch that fast).

> — its torque is also constant and available from 0 RPM

I don't think torque is constant. The power is constant, and torque gradually decays as RPM increases as per the following equation:

HP = Torque x RPM ÷ 5252

Most 1000 HP drag cars are in their power band from the time the driver lets go of the trans brake until the race is over (unless it's a stick shift, but most drag cars are automatic).

Like any other conventional automatic, there is a torque converter between the engine and the transmission which allows the engine to spin faster than the transmission input shaft.

At the starting line, the driver engages the transmission brake, which locks the transmission and allows him to floor the engine, which brings it up to the optimal RPM (and spools the turbos if so equipped). It's almost the same as if you were to hold the brake and floor the accelerator at a red light. The only difference is that the brakes on a drag car wouldn't be able to hold it back, so they use the transmission instead.

Then, when it's time to start, he lets go of the trans brake and the power is instantly delivered to the wheels.

There usually isn't an issue with not having enough power at the starting line. It's actually the opposite. High power cars usually have to limit their starting RPM to avoid doing a wheelie or losing traction.

"I don't think torque is constant."

The torque is constant for the first 40% of the RPM, something like this:

http://image.motorcyclistonline.com/f/30634938/122_0910_03_z... http://www.global-greenhouse-warming.com/images/TeslaTorqueg...

The horse power increases gradually as RPM increases.

Interesting. Do they do that on purpose or is it due to how the motor works? It's so flat that It seems like they limit the torque on purpose, perhaps to prevent breaking things.

The almost perfect linear decline after the constant part is what I would have expected for an electric motor running with a constant power.

They almost certainly are limiting the torque. Zero rpm torque on these electric motors goes asymptotic since torque is power per change of angle and the angle isn't changing.

Also he specified max torque was 10k newton meters which is absolutely enough to pull a steel driveshaft like taffy. That's triple the torque a semi produces.

I would say with 99% certainty it wasn't stock tires.

Tesla specs special tires because one of their selling points is "look how quiet EVs are and how little maintenance they need". Said special tires have increased mass over normal tires. Tesla also needs to spec something that delivers a reasonable service life under a big heavy Tesla. You can't just hand wave and say "it's a 700hp rocket, of course it eats tires" because that doesn't fit their brand image. Then there's rolling resistance. They can't spec something that has a ton of rolling resistance because it would tank range.

All of those design criteria require trade-offs from traction and each other.

"I tune EFI systems on race cars as a hobby" How did you get into such hobby? I would be glad to do that as a hobby :)

Well, most of my friends happen to be "in to" cars, so I've spent a lot of time being around and talking about cars.

Since I'm "good with computers", I would always help them with their electrical issues, which eventually evolved into me tuning their cars and dealing with any other EFI related issues. Most tuners charge around $500, but I do it all for free, so that helps.

If you really want to get involved, seek out some car clubs in your area and check out some of the open source ECU projects (such as Speeduino). Usually, car hobbyist can be identified by a group of people standing in a parking lot staring at their cars. Most of them love to brag about their setup, so they're pretty receptive to people asking questions.

> that still puts it on par with 1000 HP dedicated drag cars

I think you'll find it's past those. Even 1200hp GTRs don't run eights.

The OP is right that 8 sec 1/4 is extremely impressive, but he is wrong that there are few production cars that can run 8s. No production car runs anything close.

The fastest 1/4 mile production cars are supercars such as the Veyron and 918, which are at or just under a 10seconds.

Remember, an increase from 20->18 seconds is roughly a 10% increase in acceleration; 10->8 is roughly 20% increase over an already ludicrously fast million-dollar supercar.

It's frankly ridiculously fast.

>The fastest 1/4 mile production cars are supercars such as the Veyron and 918, which are at or just under a 10seconds.

Except for the Dodge Demon, which does the 1/4 in 9.65

The 9.65 time is impressive, and the engineering team design as well. However, the claim is arguably disingenuous. Consider one needs a long time to go through a list of impractical things to prep the car to actually achieve that time, such as laying down what is literal tire glue to the road.

You're right - I can't find any other car that can run 8's without modifications. There are some that can achieve those numbers with under $10,000 worth of modifications, but that's kind of irrelevant since we're talking about stock cars.

That's also why I am skeptical of this Tesla running an 8 second pass in stock trim. Is there a video of the pass?

Most of the 8 second cars I've seen are running slicks or drag radials, and usually weigh a lot less.

I'd be curious to see how Tesla managed to make a car that probably weighs over 4000 pounds have enough traction for those numbers using regular tires. Even with all wheel drive, 8 second Nissan GTRs usually have to resort to slicks.

> There are some that can achieve those numbers with under $10,000 worth of modifications

Can you provide links? I seriously doubt you can get anything into the 8s with only $10k.

If we're talking about anything, you can build a turbo Gen 4 LSx swapped Foxbody Mustang for very cheap (check out the sloppy mechanics group). The same goes for an automatic AWD DSM. Both of those have the potential to get into the 8's with little money, but it does take some fine tuning.

However, I'm assuming you are interested in brand new production cars. The cars I listed above are all old and do not compare to the Tesla in anything other than drag racing. If you're interested, let me know and I can go into a more detailed breakdown of the last car I tuned (LSx swapped Mustang).

As for new cars, it depends on how much work you're willing to do yourself vs paying a shop.

Here's a link to a newer 5.0 Mustang with a completely stock engine and a ~$8500 twin turbo kit. He does have other supporting mods (tires, suspension, torque converter) that likely put him over the $10k mark, but you can also save a few thousand on the turbo kit by piecing it together yourself.

"He estimates the car makes over 900 horsepower at the tire, but what really matters is the stock Coyote engine paired with an off-the-shelf Hellion turbo kit added up to an 8.6-second e.t. at over 150 mph."


Since D=0.5at^2, going 10->8 would need a 50% increase in acceleration.

True. GTRs are not the best for drag racing. I think the Alpha 12 (~1200 HP) GTRs are actually dipping into the 8's, but I was thinking more along the lines of a Mustang, which is one of the most common cars used for drag racing and is usually much lighter.

Many cars in the 1200 HP range are much faster, such as the "Red Demon" DSM which is somewhere in the 7 second range.

GTRs are not the best for drag racing? Do you mean not the best to go slow in drag racing?

Because at the top of the ladder of the 1/4 (excluding top fuel making 4000-8000hp), you only have Lambos and GTRs.

I was wondering that myself after seeing the 1.9s 0-60 time. My understanding was that anything under 2.5s was the domain of racing slicks and sticky compounds.

The car in the image has some monster tires on it. Doesn't give you the compression (or whatever you use to describe the give in the tire) friction you get with serious drag tires, but with a good four wheel drive system?

Looked like it had cup2s on it during the reveal. I have them on my car and they are amazing but still far from a drag radial.

> I tune EFI systems on race cars as a hobby, and any car in the 8 second range usually needs to run slicks or drag radials to have enough traction.

Right, but you're comparing what is ultimately powered by the good old Karl Benz design from the 1880s, burning dinosaur juice, that has zero torque at zero RPM, needs to shift gears multiple times, and is about as responsive to control inputs as a cow munching on marijuana leaves - with a very different thing powered by something that has maximum torque at any RPM, has no gears, and responds to control inputs extremely quickly and with immense precision.

A couple of points:

1. A drag car does not start at zero RPM. The engine is probably over 4000 RPM and under load before the race even begins. In fact, many cars have to dial their launch RPM down because it ends up making enough power to lose traction from a dead stop. Look up "trans brake launch" to see what I'm talking about.

2. Your comment actually further confirms my skepticism of the Tesla not being able to maintain traction. If an unresponsive internal combustion engine powered car has trouble, imagine a car capable of shocking the tires even harder.

> A drag car does not start at zero RPM.

I own a modern sportbike and I've done enough of quarter mile attempts to understand how the process works in general, even though it's not a 4-wheel vehicle.

The main point here is that the internal combustion engine has a primitive torque profile. You have to keep it in the sweet spot if you want maximum performance. Hence all the stupid tricks you need to play with gear shifts and the clutch and all that junk.

This whole coordinated ballet is unnecessary with electric motors, that's the point that you've missed. At any RPM, including zero, the electric motor is near peak torque. A whole range of complex issues that would otherwise need to be mitigated simply vanish, so you can focus on defeating other obstacles. Understand the difference now?

> If an unresponsive internal combustion engine powered car has trouble, imagine a car capable of shocking the tires even harder.

You're missing the point again. A much more responsive engine such as the electric power plant allows traction control to work much, much more precisely and respond much faster. No inertia from crankshaft assembly and transmission. No clutch. Torque goes from any value to any other value in a small fraction of a second. The feedback loop can operate that much faster, and with greater precision. Internal combustion engines are not even in the same ballpark.

Like I've said, I do own a racing vehicle powered by internal combustion. I am quite fond and proud of it, which is something I believe you understand. But it's game over for this technology. Electric engines are winning by all metrics and in all applications, either sports, or utility, or whatever. It's the end of an era.

Thanks for your explanation mentioning "coordinated ballet", only at this point the realization hit home how big the differences are.

Even if the difference was that drastic, none of that accounts for the fact that tires only have so much friction.

Yeah. Nobody claimed that magic was at work here. Current tire technology has certain limits imposed by physics. But I suspect electric cars can get quite a bit closer to those limits, with a much faster traction control loop.

Yep the tires... Unless this shit floats, I don't see how they could do 8 sec 1/4 mile.

The Tesla roadster specs are insane! No exotic carmaker will be able to match it (taking price as a consideration). (no Ferrari, or Lambo, can get that close. This is Formula 1 acceleration speeds).

Plus 620 miles of range, and it is a 4 seater. Expensive as hell, but this is exotic car territory.

Base Specs

Acceleration 0-60 mph1.9 sec

Acceleration 0-100 mph4.2 sec

Acceleration 1/4 mile8.8 sec

Top SpeedOver 250 mph

Wheel Torque 10,000 Nm

Mile Range 620 miles

Seating 4

Drive All-Wheel Drive

Base Price $200,000

Base Reservation $50,000

Founders Series Price $250,000

Founders Series Reservation

(1,000 reservations available)$250,000

Ah, but do the doors go like this ^(o_o)^ or like this \(o_o)/ not like this <(o_o)>

HBO's Silicon Valley reference https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJIAOosI6js

Your comment made everybody in the office laugh

Now that seems like a good place to work!

Yeah where can I get paid to read HN?

Literally anywhere.


almost got kicked out of class for laughing too hard


Sounds really good on paper but the production is scheduled for 2020, so it’s unfair to compare it to the cars currently on the market. No other manufacturers announce cars so far ahead so it seems at least partly like a hype for Tesla investors. Acceleration is just one part of what makes a great sports car. And how is the acceleration past 100 mph? That’s the traditional weakness of electric cars and it matters more on the track. How about its weight, brakes, turning, steering feel, grip, suspension, weight distribution (it should be quite good), downforce? Will the battery last for a full track day? Of course sound has always been a very important part of what made sports cars exhilarating to drive and Tesla can’t compete there. And the design and brand matter too. Ferrari and Lamborghini don’t make $40k cars (or even $100k cars).

MotorTrend's review of the Model 3 makes me optimistic about the Roadster:

"What’s blanching, though, is the car’s ride and handling. If anybody was expecting a typical boring electric sedan here, nope. The ride is Alfa Giulia (maybe even Quadrifoglio)–firm, and quickly, I’m carving Stunt Road like a Sochi Olympics giant slalomer, micrometering my swipes at the apexes. I glance at Franz—this OK? “Go for it,” he nods. The Model 3 is so unexpected scalpel-like, I’m sputtering for adjectives. The steering ratio is quick, the effort is light (for me), but there’s enough light tremble against your fingers to hear the cornering negotiations between Stunt Road and these 235/40R19 tires (Continental ProContact RX m+s’s). And to mention body roll is to have already said too much about it."


And so how many Gs can it sustain on a flat corner? The faster a reviewer talks, the less we should listen. Give it to the Stig and let us see exactly how it laps.

There was a bit of a fuss last time they gave a Tesla to Top Gear...

> No other manufacturers announce cars so far ahead

Surely, you're joking? Virtually every carmaker has announced a whole bunch of electric cars for 2020-2021 (without giving nearly as many details or demoing the cars already). And that's discounting their "concept cars".

Ford announced their Bronco a while back that isn’t available til the 2020 model year.

With their acceleration stats that cause all the excitement?

> And how is the acceleration after 100 mph?

This. If you're buying a supercar to actually drive on a track, this is key. Any specs relating to what happens below 100 mph are worthless. If you spend any significant percentage of time going so slow, you need to spend ~$8k on a BMW E36 M3 instead, and learn how to drive.

But if you buy a supercar mainly to park in front of Harrods, 0-60 time is... still worthless.

Not to be a Tesla apologist, but how many people track their supercars? Or at least proportionally to road use? An Aventador is pretty crummy as a track car, and its performance is all but unusable on the roads (unless, ahem, liberties are taken).

A lot of the appeal is in the perception of performance and that initial acceleration. It's putting your foot down with a passenger, or breezing someone at the lights whilst putting a smile on your face. 0-60 is probably one of the more relevant performance statistics for road use (even if 1.9s renders it all but pointless!)

More than a few race tracks in America are basically pet projects of the super rich. They operate as for profit entities and do their best to be profitable or at least break even, but really they exist for the entertainment of the billionaire owners groups.

But, what are they driving on those tracks? If I had a few 'bill laying around I'd be in a FXXK or P1 GTR, rather than a supercar or some of the hypercars, no?

Some truth to that. But some wrong too.

I drive a 2004 330i; I track it. I get better times than most drivers who have much better 100-140 high speeds in the straights - despite me only getting to ~100.

Of course, somehome a pro driver in a lowered 140hp toyota pickup truck can get better times than all of us.

Most people don't have the nerves to take high speed turns at the limit. I used to take a Lotus Elise to the track and it requires courage to look for the limit when you go 100mph+. Going straight is easy.

> And how is the acceleration past 100 mph?

I thought the instant torque was able to get great acceleration at all speeds?

The torque drops off as the motor RPM increases.

“Production is scheduled for 2020”.

And delivery will be in 2025.

Knowing how bad Tesla is with keeping their schedule

From Wikipedia's F1 page [0]:

> The 2016 F1 cars have a power-to-weight ratio of 1,400 hp/t (1.05 kW/kg). Theoretically this would allow the car to reach 100 km/h (62 mph) in less than 1 second. However the massive power cannot be converted to motion at low speeds due to traction loss and the usual figure is 2.5 seconds to reach 100 km/h (62 mph)

Even adjusting for 60 mph = 2.4s, I don't see how the traction of the Tesla is better.

Formula-E cars are doing 0-62 it in 3s [1]:

> An average Formula E car has a power of at least 250 horsepower (190 kW). The car is able to accelerate from 0–100 km/h (0–62 mph) in 3 seconds, with a maximum speed of 225 km/h (140 mph)

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formula_One_car#Acceleration

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formula_E#Car

I agree, I think this is another case of "well it works on our computer" pre-release specs that will turn out not to get close to real-world performance. The 0-100mph is very suspicious but I think the 0-60 time quoted is simply impossible for a road car, even making allowances for a few years of tech advancements.

F1 tires are nothing like road tires. They're not even vaguely comparable - at normal operating temperatures (over 100C, and they're preheated before starting - although not to quite this hot) they have the consistency of chewing gum. They are also huge - far bigger than a road car could ever hope to accommodate. This car also looks to weigh around double what an F1 car will weigh, and with far, far, FAR less grip, so it simply doesn't seem possible that it can accelerate faster.

To address some of the other replies. Traction control: F1 cars are driven by some of the best drivers on the planet. I think it's straining credulity to believe that an electronic traction control system is going to outperform them to such a huge degree. Gear changes: F1 gear changes take about 8 milliseconds. A road-going automatic gearbox is definitely not going to beat this.

In short - it doesn't matter HOW much power you have, if you can't get it down on the road. Given the limitations of the weight of the car, the limited grip from road tires, and a gearbox that needs to survive everyday use, it seems frankly totally impossible that a sub-2s 0-60mph is correct.

> F1 tires are nothing like road tires.

Agreed, but they don't need to be. Remember, the magic number here is ~1.4G, for a 1.9s 0-60. The Pilot Sport Cup 2 – a track-friendly R-compound tire used in the webcast car and in the videos – can pull close to that on a skidpad (i.e. less than optimal conditions), meaning the grip is there.

> I think it's straining credulity to believe that an electronic traction control system is going to outperform them to such a huge degree.

Launch control and traction control can make several tenths of seconds of difference, which is critical when you're talking about sub-2s times. Also, traction control can keep the car on the cusp of slip the entire run to 60MPH, which is critical in a car that has a completely flat torque curve and probably enough torque to break the wheels loose at any speed (which is not true for F1 cars).

I also suspect that the Roadster has active damping – another technology disallowed in F1 – meaning that the duration of contact with the road can be maximized. This is important if the road surface isn't glassy-smooth.

> This car also looks to weigh around double what an F1 car will weigh

That doesn't help it at all in cornering, but in a straight line, the increased weight of the car will help it launch even better since it'll increase the traction on the drive wheels (equivalent to downforce at speed).

> Gear changes: F1 gear changes take about 8 milliseconds. A road-going automatic gearbox is definitely not going to beat this.

There's no gearbox to speak of; the wheels are direct-drive. To be fair, this won't contribute significantly to faster 0-60 times, but the gearbox exists to compensate for some less-than-ideal characteristics of an ICE, namely uneven power delivery and physical limitations on peak RPMs. An electric motor has none of these problems.

> Agreed, but they don't need to be. Remember, the magic number here is ~1.4G, for a 1.9s 0-60. The Pilot Sport Cup 2 – a track-friendly R-compound tire used in the webcast car and in the videos – can pull close to that on a skidpad (i.e. less than optimal conditions), meaning the grip is there.

That's lateral grip, which isn't the same at all. Longitudinal grip, which is what's important here, is very different. There's a lot of clever things you can do to increase lateral grip, such as wheel camber, that don't really apply to purely longitudinal grip, so I'm not sure this is valid.

> I also suspect that the Roadster has active damping – another technology disallowed in F1 – meaning that the duration of contact with the road can be maximized. This is important if the road surface isn't glassy-smooth.

But it has to have (comparatively) extremely soft road-going suspension. I really doubt that no matter how smart the active damping is that it will compare with race springs and dampers. Le Mans cars have all these active damping tricks, traction control, along with slick tires, low weight, very high power:weight ratios, skilled drivers, etc, etc, etc and they still don't get to 60 that quick.

That's an excellent example actually - the Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 car has a 0-60 of 2.2 seconds, despite electric power, FAR less weight, FAR better tires and drivetrain [0]. There is just no way you can make a road car that's faster than an LMP1 hybrid. If you can, maybe you can put a roll-cage in and take it to Le Mans.... but I doubt it.

> That doesn't help it at all in cornering, but in a straight line, the increased weight of the car will help it launch even better since it'll increase the traction on the drive wheels (equivalent to downforce at speed).

Weight increases the grip, but it also increases the amount of grip you need - you need more power to maintain the same acceleration, and this power needs to be transferred to the road. I'm not an expert, but AIUI, increased grip due to weight scales linearly, whereas the increase in power required (and thus the increase in grip required) scales geometrically, thus weight is counterproductive in getting you to 60mph faster. I could be wrong about this though - as always I'd be happy to be corrected by someone with more knowledge!

0: https://www.porsche.com/usa/eventsandracing/motorsport/works...

> That's lateral grip, which isn't the same at all. [...] There's a lot of clever things you can do to increase lateral grip, such as wheel camber, that don't really apply to purely longitudinal grip, so I'm not sure this is valid.

Camber isn't a magical trick to get more grip; it's a way to restore grip that would otherwise have been lost because of uneven tire loading in a corner. In a straight-line drive situation, the load is already ideal; the contact patch is the maximum size and fairly evenly distributed across the width of the tire.

> There is just no way you can make a road car that's faster than an LMP1 hybrid.

Indeed, it's currently impossible to make an all-electric race car that can compete with an ICE or hybrid race car in general race conditions, mostly because of the limitations of the energy storage. If the goal is just for a road car to beat a hybrid LMP1 (or even F1) car in a drag race though, as is the case here, I think that's much more doable. The ICE is really the weak link there.

> Camber isn't a magical trick to get more grip; it's a way to restore grip that would otherwise have been lost because of uneven tire loading in a corner. In a straight-line drive situation, the load is already ideal; the contact patch is the maximum size and fairly evenly distributed across the width of the tire.

Mostly. But only mostly. Tire grip is actually really, really, really complex however, and this is one of the places where a simplistic model breaks down really badly. If we were able to model tires with simple newtonian physics, then no car would be able to hold more than 1g in a corner, as at that point the force sideways would be more than the force of gravity holding it to the road. Manifestly this is not actually the case.

Tire grip through a corner is more than just coefficient of friction against a surface. There's a lot of complicated things that happen, but the one I'm going to very lightly cover here is that when you go around a corner your tires deform slightly. The sidewall of the tire is pulled out of place, and at the maximum cornering speed of a tire, it will actually be slipping slightly (which can be heard as tire squeal). Cambering the tire corrects for uneven loading, but it also changes the sidewall stress profile, and thus affects the way the tire deforms under lateral load.

I found a mathematical explanation of some the bits mentioned above here: https://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/5838/why-does-a-... but I haven't checked carefully through it to ensure it's actually correct.

> AIUI, increased grip due to weight scales linearly, whereas the increase in power required (and thus the increase in grip required) scales geometrically

The high-school physics model of grip has them both linear, but more sophisticated models may show a difference.

(Interestingly, more mass on a vehicle does help when it is towing something heavy.)

> namely uneven power delivery and physical limitations on peak RPMs. An electric motor has none of these problems.

Electric motors do actually have an uneven response at different RPMs (in the form of back-emf losses). I worked for a while with an electric car team in university, and we used a mechanical system to adjust the stator position and tune the motor for different RPMs. I’m not sure what Tesla is doing to address this (could be mechanical or solid state), but you definitely can’t just keep dumping more power into a motor and expect it to get correspondingly faster, not even as a reasonable approximation.

What is the best 60-to-0 time for a road car? If traction is the limiting factor, you should be able to get very close to that same time in the reverse direction.

Edit: the shortest 60-to-0 braking distance I find claimed is for a Dodge Viper ACR (Mk 5) at 87 feet. Assuming constant acceleration, that works out to 1.98 seconds.

[1] http://fastestlaps.com/lists/top-quickest-stoppers-60mph

There's an Engineering Explained video that takes this approach:


They estimate 2.0s is roughly the limit on standard tires, F1 cars can do it faster due to stickier tires.

He also has a video about Tesla acceleration:


Which talks about whether the Model S has an advantage over the (old) Roadster due to the heavier vehicle gripping better.

Interestingly the number he calculates for a theoretical roadster car is very close to Tesla's new number.

They also have a video about "rollout" which can alter 0-60 times and needs to be taken into account for comparisons.


There are already videos of the test car: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3380&v=aXWfL-1ie...

I'm pretty sure they aren't making it up.

>Traction control: F1 cars are driven by some of the best drivers on the planet. I think it's straining credulity to believe that an electronic traction control system is going to outperform them to such a huge degree.

I'm with you for the rest of the post, but this is not straining credulity. Look at the F1 season where traction control/launch control was not yet banned. You can see how the cars with that technology gained a massive advantage. Look no further than some starts featuring Schumacher vs Senna. The former wasn't a better driver, but Senna couldn't do anything but watch him pull away on the starts. And that's 1993 technology.

Have a reality check of a 0-74 mph on the real thing (with 2 people aboard):https://youtu.be/aXWfL-1ieuE?t=3369

What about weight? The Roadster is probably quite more more heavy than an F1, doesn't that play a big role in traction?

Not really, wider tires for example let you have constant pressure per surface area in contact with the road.

Now there are minor effects that do come into play, so 100x the weight would be meaningful. But, weight within the range of normal cars is not really important.

There are no gears in an electric car, and doesn’t more weight make it easier to stay on the road, not harder?

Traction control has been banned in F1 since 2008, so this severely limits how quickly they can start from a standstill. The tires themselves certainly have enough grip to handle the acceleration; F1 cars routinely hit several lateral Gs in cornering (though with the help of downforce), well exceeding the ~1.4G required to accelerate to 60 in 1.9s.

F1 cars are rear wheel drive and still have to build their torque and power up the rev range and change gears.

Telsa is 4wd and has all it's torque and power from standing with no gears

The F1 engines are already revved up when they start. They just engage the clutch. And F1 gear changes are pretty much instant as the old and new gears are connected at the same time and the moment that would start to cause problems the old one gets disconnected

But yeah its the real wheel drive that stops F1 cars going faster 0 to 60. (limited by the friction instead of the power the engine can deliver)

The whole startup trickery with the two clutch paddles is interesting too. Basically they use one of the paddle to find the bite point and leave it there and then use the other to fully disengage the clutch. Then once the lights go out they drop the other clutch so the clutch goes instantly to the bite point and then use the other paddle to modulate the launch (they are pretty much flatout while standing still and use the clutch to control wheel spin). A launch control computer probably could do this better but such things are banned in F1.

Per your links, the minimum permissible weight of an F1 car is 731kg including the driver, but not fuel. For FE it is 800kg. The 2011 Tesla Roadster weighed 1235kg, sans driver. The 2011 Bugatti Veyron 1834kg.

The very long range also suggests that this car will weigh considerably more than the old Roadster. Maybe there is an improvement to traction with all that extra weight? Or maybe the weight just helps with keeping the wheels on the ground at 250mph?

Actually the opposite. You get less traction with more weight due to "load sensitivity" of viscoelastic materials (= rubber).

> No exotic carmaker will be able to match it.

Did you fact check that? Actually, Bugatti is pretty close and partially outperforms, although at a way higher price point. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bugatti_Chiron

Yes. The Chiron matches it in speed, but not acceleration. 1.9s vs 2.4s to 60mph. Since the roadster has a 250+ mph figure, the tires are probably going to be one of the limiting factors. (same with the Chiron).

" The Chiron can accelerate from 0–97 km/h (60 mph) in 2.4 seconds according to the manufacturer,[4] 0–200 km/h (120 mph) in 6.5 seconds and 0–300 km/h (190 mph) in 13.6 seconds. In a world-record-setting test, Chiron reached 400 km/h (250 mph) in 32.6 seconds, after which it needed 9.4 seconds to brake to standstill.[14]

The Chiron's top speed is electronically limited to 420 km/h (261 mph) for safety reasons.[2] The anticipated full top speed of the Bugatti Chiron is believed to be around 463 km/h (288 mph)."

Chiron is traction limited for most of its run; I presume to beat the Chiron's time the Tesla Roadster has better tyres for initial grip.

Very unlikely. With power you weight beyond useful (this has basically been "solved" since the day someone built a cat around a ww2 military aircraft piston engine), acceleration is determined by aerodynamics (drag and downpressure), tires and the time spent shifting gears. It's pretty evident where Tesla has the advantage.

Tesla may have a better traction-control algorithm. Or the electric motors may make it easier to modulate power more rapidly/precisely (vs gas).

The 2nd picture on this page is interesting: https://electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/271674/tesla...

Shifting gears? Why does it have an advantage?

Tangent: please don't downvote someone asking questions, people. I for one had not considered that electric motors have no gears to shift, and wondered "surely both cars are automatic? Does Tesla have a patent on a faster automatic transmission or something?" so I appreciated someone asked.

Teslas don't need gears since they use electric motors. So there is literally no time spent shifting gears.

See https://www.quora.com/Why-don%E2%80%99t-Tesla-cars-need-a-ge...

The original Veyron could change gears in 8ms, and will, IIRC hit 60 in 2nd. Changing gear isn't going to be a considerable part of the time here.

Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bugatti_Veyron states that the original Veyron gearbox could change gears in 150ms, so it is a considerable part of the time.

While the gear are shifting the engine RPM must go down then up; the 8ms figure certainly doesn't account for the complete sequence.

The Veyron does 70 in first gear. I don't know if its 0-60 times require a gear change or not.

The basic idea is that it is wasting time. But this is no longer a factor as the gear change is instantaneous with Automatic GearBox.

Electric cars do not have a gearbox and just have one rotor. This does place them in a disadvantage when starting though as there acceleration is affected. Formula E cars, have started using a 3 gearbox for their cars in order to have a faster start.

So it is possible that the Roadster does have a gearbox.

Tesla tried a gearbox in the first Roadsters, and it didn't go so well.

I don't think you're right about this. If the 60-0 time and the 0-60 time are the same for the Chiron then it's limited by traction (assuming brakes that are strong enough to break traction at 60).

Most high performance cars only shift once before 60, and with modern dual clutch transmissions it only costs a fraction of a second.

The only way Tesla are going to get below 2 seconds is either with non-street legal tyres (cheating!) or some new tyres that nobody else has.

Their demo car uses Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, which are also used on the Buggati Chiron and Koenigsegg Agera RS (which recently set two records for fastest 0-400kph-0 and fastest production car road speed). These tires are street legal.

The Roadster is significantly faster than other supercars from 0-60 on the same tires, so the advantage must come from much more efficient anti-wheel slipping from the three electric motors coupled to AWD. This dramatic speed advantage is probably a result of the ability to quickly alter the power output per wheel to minimize efficiency losses from breaking traction.

FWIW, all of the hypercars on the market have custom compounds, so the fact they're both called "Pilot Sport Cup 2" by Michelin doesn't really matter all too much.

Braking has a very different load distribution, even with a center of mass as low as in supercars. I would not put to much into that comparison. Tires are depicted as Michelin in the announcement, it would be very surprising if they keep their best exclusive to Tesla, considering the relative proximity between Bugatti and Michelin, the relative cheapness of the Tesla and Volkswagen group representing a much bigger part of the tires market than Tesla for the foreseeable future.

> it only costs a fraction of a second

In other words: exactly the scale of the differences we are talking about. In addition to the short interruption itself I guess that it also takes a few millis until traction control has settled after a shift.

> Chiron is traction limited for most of its run

This sounds very dubious, unless it has negative aerodynamic downforce. Even then, the times for each successive mph drop off too fast for it to be traction limited. Even F1 cars are not traction limited for more than a brief spell of straight-line acceleration. Aero drag dominates very quickly.

Cornering or braking, on the other hand...

From memory, I remember seeing something claiming that the Chrion's 0–60 and 60–0 times were identical.

That's doubly fishy, since it has an airbrake.

[My caveat on this, I'm not a road-car enthusiast, so I'm just deducing. But I used to work in motor racing, mostly bikes. Based on the standard of reporting I saw about stuff I did know well, I don't trust the motor press on tech claims.]

The Veyron had little downforce when put into suicide mode, right?

Most likely a lot more weight.

Lighter tires as rolling at 400kph+ is not a requirement and a fraction of the interiors

The top speed is quoted as being in excess of 400km/h? They have the same problem with speed rating of the tyres.

I'm also curious as to how much it will weigh given the batteries (given the weight of other Teslas).

one is a real car however, the other a rendering. I don't expect figures to change drastically from the brochure, but still.

The new Roadster is definitely real, not a render. They were driving them around, at speed, and showing off the acceleration, at the announcement!

Doesn’t mean much. They had to replace a lot of stuff between the presented and production model x, like the door hinges, because from prototype to reality there’s an abyss, especially for a car that’s supposed to sustain thise speeds.

The first thing I did was to compare against the Dodge Demon SRT and sure enough, I think overall the Tesla Roadster beats it. If you go to Dodge's website, they boast the claim "Fastest Production Car from 0-100 mph", with a little note saying "Excludes non-mass production vehicles and hybrids/electric."

Not to mention that once the benchmark is set, everyone competes to break it.

See: Hennessy Supercars

Any car that has less than 100 of produced units, it just exotic car prototypes territory. If you can't really go an buy one, does it matter? It is not a real 'production' car.

"Venom GT "World's Fastest Edition" (2014)[edit] Is a limited (3 units) version of the Venom GT coupe commemorating the Venom GT coupe's 0–300 km/h Guinness World Record.

The vehicle went on sale for US$1.25 million.[14] All three units were sold to customers shortly after their production was announced by the manufacturer."

This is true, though it's not really my point... Once someone sets a new benchmark, it will get broken. I doubt that all advancements in performance cars will stop here..

The Chiron also has an MSRP of $2.6m

The Chiron is an order of magnitude more expensive, and still fails to be quicker.

But the Chiron exist today.

Near 10x the price... I think OP unconsciously factor in the price.

Matching the price is part of what "match it" means.

Musk did note those are (supposedly) the base specs of course. So the higher cost versions may surpass the Bugatti accordingly.

I wouldn't call 1600Nm of torque over 2k rpm pretty close to 10000Nm flat...

1600Nm is the engine torque for the Chiron. The 10000Nm value Tesla gave is the wheel torque. You need to multiply the 1600Nm by the gear ratio to get the wheel torque.

I wonder at what speed you get that range. Those specs are in Bugatti Veyron league, even beating it at acceleration (for 1/8 the price tag), but at full speed, the Veyron empties its full tank in... 12 minutes. I'll let you calculate how many miles that is at 250mph.

I seem to recall reading that the Veyron's tyres will disintegrate after 15 minutes at top speed, but that's OK because it only carries fuel for 12 minutes.

Most of the car do since tank is sized to fuel consumption and full throttle petrol eat a lot of fuel - even a smart can reach 2km to the liter flat out and I know my alfa tank would only last 15 minutes give or take from the figures I got lapping at Monza

Also I wonder how many times you can accelerate like that... maybe only once with full charge?

The Model S can seemingly do it quite often, Tesla Racing Channel does it quite a bit. You will thermal limit at some point but having twice the battery capacity is probably helping there.

The Porsche CEO has been sorta claiming that but it doesn't make sense to me. The kinetic energy of your car at a given speed is the same, regardless of how fast you accelerated to get to that speed. Do batteries waste more energy when you drain them faster?

They can't waste a large portion of battery capacity, because the heat from that much energy getting wasted would blow up the car.

Drag. Recall, wind resistance is proportional to the square of velocity. The vast majority of energy goes into overcoming drag, even at regular highway speeds. Remember when we capped speed limits at 55mph during the '70s energy crisis? We did so because fuel efficiency really starts to drop off at faster speeds. 250mph is very, very far up this curve.

Wikipedia has a nice graph to illustrate: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Chart_MPG_to_L-100km_v200...

True, I was just thinking about quick accelerations to reasonable highway speeds, which is what the Porsche guy was talking about.

At a given speed, the energy is the same. But to get the car going it takes significant energy.

It takes more power to accelerate faster but the total change in kinetic energy is the same either way. Any energy consumption that doesn't go into the final kinetic energy is going into waste heat, and there can't be too much of that without melting things.

You are right... hmm

All of the electrical systems waste more energy if you drain them faster. To drain them faster you need higher currents which lead to higher waste power. Waste power goes up with the square of the current (P=I^2*R). This is most apparent in batteries heating up due to their internal resistance. Here's [1] an 18650 lithium cells discharge graph at different currents.

[1] https://www.powerstream.com/z/US18650VCT4-discharge.png

1 fifth of those 250 miles: 50 miles

Paper stats are one thing but show me this beating even something like a GT3 in an actual circuit race, or posting a Nurburgring time worthy of the price tag.

I’m sure in another 5 or 10 years they’ll get there but these figures are for headlines not the track.

> Paper stats are one thing but show me this beating even something like a GT3 in an actual circuit race, or posting a Nurburgring time worthy of the price tag.

An actual race is one thing: you wouldn't expect most "supercars" to finish an actual race without being torn down and rebuilt for the race. I have no idea how you'd prepare something like a Bugatti for an endurance race, but I know the end result wouldn't be worth the expense. GT3 cars are a pretty good example of something bridging the gap. (On the other hand, the Bugatti is said to be a pleasant car to drive on the street, which I wouldn't necessarily expect out of a GT3 car.)

One lap at Nurburgring? I imagine Tesla can swing that. It seems like it would just be function of keeping the battery cool enough. If they found a way to air cool the battery effectively at speed, Nurburgring is a pretty friendly track for that.

Are you saying that the numbers aren't true, or that it has other weaknesses that would cause it to lose a race?

Think of it this way, if some server or database came out claiming incredible benchmark numbers you’d say okay now show me some real world workloads. Same here. 0-60 is an artificial benchmark, a circuit time is a real world workload.

They already have a test car: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3380&v=aXWfL-1ie...

I'm pretty sure they aren't making it up.

I haven't said they're making up the 0-60 time. I'm saying show me a test against the competition that lasts for longer than 1.9 seconds.

Don't get me wrong it's a deeply impressive vehicle. I'm just not an Elon fanboy and the precise milisecond that what Porsche, McLaren et. al. customers want something like that is when they will start making it. It's not like one company is the future and the rest of them are dinosaurs. One company is small and loosing money and the others are making it, enough of it to buy Tesla any time they feel like it, which being realistic is what's going to happen eventually.

Overheating. Like previous models, it likely can't cool down the engines and batteries fast enough to sustain that power output.

I'd like to see motor trend test it on the track and against competitors

Now if only the folks in front of me would accelerate from the on ramp to the highway at more than 45mph.

10,000 NM of torque. That's INSANE. I drive a car with 400NM torque and that thing scares the sh*t out of me when I accelerate. 10,000 NM? Isn't that something along the lines of a tram or a train (I'm not sure, I'm asking you guys). This is CRAZY. I'm getting one for sure.

Your car has 400Nm at the engine output shaft.

After gearing, you'll have the same order of magnitude torque at the wheels as the Tesla.

Randomly picked example: Porsche G97/01 (997 Carrera 2 2005-08) First gear total reduction 13.45 (gear 3.91, rack&pinion 3.44)

So, ignoring efficiencies, you'd have a first-gear torque of 400Nm * 13.45 = 5380Nm at the wheels. Still "only" half of the Tesla, but not an earth-shattering difference anymore.

Thank you, now that makes perfect sense :)

Isn't the rack-and-pinion for steering, not for power transmission to wheels?

Yes rack and pinion is for steering. Parent may have meant "ring and pinion" which would refer to the differential gear ratio.

Yes, you're right of course. Thank you.

I was wondering, because I seemed to connect the expression with steering as well :-) At least I have the excuse of not being a native speaker.

I had the same thought [0]! They cite their wheel torque, not their engine torque, which is what we're all used to seeing.

[0]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15719411

In electric cars, isn't it basically the same?

It can be, even though many electric vehicles apparently use a fixed-ratio gear as well. But it's still an apples-to-oranges comparison since traditional ICE-driven cars tend to publish engine torque, not wheel torque.

Of course, they weren't trying all that hard to alleviate any confusion, and it worked even on the fairly tech-savvy HN crowd.

Ed: improved both facts and wording.

Even if there is not a traditional transmission, there is still a gearbox behind the electric motor.

Tires only rotate at ~1000 RPM on the freeway where the electric motor in a Tesla might be at 10k rpm. That 10x reduction still needs to be factored in.

Honest question: did you just make up these numbers, or are they based in fact? I was expecting the motor to turn slower.

Not OP, but Tesla Model S has approximately 1:10 fixed gear reduction.

Motor RPM will go higher than 10000 RPM at really high speeds.

Right. And electric motors are more efficient at higher RPMs. At high RPM, the voltage drop due to back-EMF (i.e. actual work) is higher but your voltage drop due to coil resistance is about the same, so you lose proportionally less energy in the form of coil resistance at higher rpm.

> electric motors are more efficient at higher RPMs.

How big is the difference?

It must be pretty substantial to offset both friction losses and gearing efficiency.

Gearing and friction losses can be fairly small.

Consider that at ~0mph and ~0rpm, producing any kind of torque at all is done with ~0% efficiency, all just resistive losses as the back-EMF is effectively zero. (Note this is no different for an internal combustion engine, although the heat generated is in the clutch or similar such device...)

Friction losses don't change much as a proportion of power as you increase speed. For aerodynamic drag, however, your losses do proportionally increase with speed, so "windage" (i.e. drag from spinning parts of the motor) needs to be cleverly reduced by making the rotor aerodynamic if you're planning on operating at high rpm.

EDIT: for properly designed electric motors (i.e. thin wire windings, iron core optimized for low eddy current losses), coil resistance usually dominates even at high rpms.

For those of us in the US, and vaguely familiar with traditional hot rods, the Chevy big block engine generally came with ~500-700 lb-ft of torque, which in a lead sled, relatively speaking, such as a 60-70s era Camaro or Chevelle would throw your head back and shake your chest like a roller coaster as the car started to slightly drift sideways.

10,000nm in comparison is 7,375lb-ft, which sounds like Harry Potter land in comparison, if all of my conversions and memories serve me.

I'm kinda speechless, TBH.

Look at my sibling post https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15720518

700lb-ft is apparently 950Nm. So assuming the same gearing as in the sibling post (very likely a false assumption -- I guess these cars had longer gears), you'd end up with 12.7kNm of torque at the wheels.

BTW, if such traditional hot rods had automatic transmissions (they did, didn't they?), the torque converter would have amplified the torque even beyond the numbers I just gave you.

My car has 1092nm of torque from about 1500rpm and it's mind-boggling... 10,000nm is hard to comprehend and surely more than enough to give the occupants some serious whiplash if not sat properly.

Wheels will lose traction, or the front of the car would lift, rather than whiplash.

4000-5000nm is the limit in Formula 1 tech. Just for perspective

may i ask what you do for a living

If you can afford one of these cars, you probably don't do anything for a living.

I work in cybersecurity. I'll have to set money aside for a couple years to make a considerable down payment, but I might be able to afford one of these.

I'd suggest the exact opposite - if you can afford one of these cars, you must be working very hard at be very good at whatever you do for a living.

I would reserve judgement on that top speed claim until we see it for real.

Acceleration is not all that matters. I'm going to hold until a hands-on driving test before I make such claims as "best sports car on the market" and "no Ferrari can compete".

Yes tho the Maclaren does comes closer as far as spec goes for about the same price (720s is £208,000 in the UK). The top speed would be the interesting part how long can it actually sustain it.

Can it corner?

GM could probably release an EV 'vett-like car that puts down similar numbers if they cared to invest the money to do so.

Building fast cars that are a little rougher in finish but can hold their own on the track compared to cars that cost a few times as much is kind of their thing. The teams that work on the Bolt are probably crossing their fingers for this.

No exotic maker will match it with internal combustion.

Mclaren, Porsche, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, BMW M division are all in the process of producing electric sports cars. I don't think Tesla is holding any technology that makes other makers with a lot more racing experience unable to match their performance.

> No exotic carmaker will be able to match it (taking price as a consideration). (no Ferrari, or Lambo, can get that close. This is Formula 1 acceleration speeds).

None of them will? Why? Has Tesla got some trade secret?

I doubt these high-end manufacturers will let this unanswered until 2020.

for most, the powerpoint is as good as a car in hand

this guy is just collecting money on Kickstarter. Nobody needs this car and nobody really wants to make it. Will they have to?

this is just the base model

I think there are less than 10 commercially available cars models that can do 0-60 mph within 2s.

There are zero. Roadster is the first and only.

There are still zero for now, one in planned production.

No cars under 2s and about 20-30 under 3s.

acceleration rates. acceleration speeds is like, kinda sort grammatically incorrect.

It's grammatically correct, but conceptually incorrect (sorry, it's always fun to correct a correction :)

They're both incorrect, I think. Acceleration rate would be the rate of change of the rate of change of speed, or what is known as 'jerk' in engineering. I guess that would be the time that it takes to go from 0 to the '0-60 in 1.8s' acceleration? The correct term is simply 'acceleration' on its own.

alls i'm saying is that if anyone wrote "acceleration speed" on reports in high school physics class they'd get points off. acceleration is a kind of rate.

Too bad it can’t maintain that performance for any extended period of time. Battery is known to overheat if you drive it too hard.

It uses 3 motors (2 in the back) and has a 200 kWh battery pack. The reason for such a large battery is so that they can draw more total current without overheating, theoretically twice as much as the Model S P100DL which only has two motors (1 in the back). Having more motors means you are spreading out the current/heat. The 600+ mile range is mostly a side effect of this engineering approach to performance.

Given that the Model S 85 kw battery is 1,200 lb, how on earth will this thing corner?

Like a ton of batteries.

0-60 in 2 seconds. Slalom time... 4 minutes at a top speed of 36mph.

If you look at Teslas, they have a grill in the front that sends air to a radiator that's shared by the battery cooling system and the cabin air conditioning.

For S and X and 3, it's not beefy enough to handle an extended period of time. Also, the engine has to radiate heat.

So, you're boldly predicting that Tesla, which understands basic physics well enough that their existing cars accelerate well and don't burst into flames because of heat issues, is going to be unable to do any better cooling the battery and motors of a future car?

Making snap engineering conclusions about technology that had tens of thousands hours R&D poured into them is a popular genre of fiction.

I just see how the thinking goes. "No way this issue that crossed my mind in the first 40 seconds I heard about the product was addressed by the bunch of hacks behind it".

So, you're boldly predicting that Tesla is going to overdesign their cooling system to meet the unrealistic demand of unlimited-duration maximum power draw (in a supercar!).

I'm not saying either of you are wrong. I'm saying either of you know equally little about the engineers' decisions, and are making equally unreasonable demands.

No, I'm not predicting that, boldly or not.

Could the make the whole rear a cooling system as you described, with radiators in aerodynamic flow.

Also guessing that a 300k P4-AWDD will be announced at some point.

I’m no Tesla defender, but how is anything “known” about a car that was first announced a couple of hours ago?

I think he's referring to the fact that Model S's are known to overheat and go into limp mode when pushed hard at the track.

Not necessarily applicable to this particular vehicle.

If anything, it’s going to be even more applicable. I don’t see much in the way of air intakes. No intakes——epic fail on the track.

It’s physics, there’s no way around it. You expend a ton of energy——battery heats up. Without massive radiators there’s nowhere for that heat to go.

No, it's incorrect, physics does not mandate that battery should heat up as you expend energy. Ideally all the energy would go into kinetic energy and be dissipated by friction losses due to air or contact between the road and the tires. The battery heats up only because the process of tranferring the chemical energy from the batteries to the car motion is imperfect, and there are internal losses do to the internal resistance of the battery.

I'm not saying that Tesla has invented a sufficiently efficient battery, but to vaguely claim "physics" makes it impossible is wrong.

It does. It will heat up. To quote a physics textbook: “Power transfer between a voltage source and an external load is at its most efficient when the resistance of the load matches the internal resistance of the voltage source.” IOW in the configuration where the power transfer is at its most efficient, battery has to dissipate as much thermal energy as motor(s) are consuming. Too much internal resistance and most of the thermal energy ends up in the battery. Too little, and your motors aren’t going to do their best. But in either case even with the load that’s not 100% matched, you do end up with a ton of heat dissipation in the battery when a heavy car like this is driven hard.

That sentence from the textbook is poorly worded, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maximum_power_transfer_theorem...

Yes, power is lower when efficiency is greater all other things equal, but you work around that by not making all other things equal.

You get voted down by people who just want to believe stuff, physics be damned. Doesn't matter that the same exact thing happens to the existing S models which manage a more than decent 0-to-60 performance on paper (they're in the same league with the Lambos and the Ferraris), but because of those damned physics I don't think that any of them actually completed a Nurburgring lap (that's ~7 km driving the S model like a sports car).

Perhaps getting down downvoted by people who expect Tesla may have thought about this. I remember reading the overheating was due to the regenerative braking trying to push power back into the battery so it was getting hard charged and discharged constantly and you couldn't switch off the charging. The bigger battery may be so you can switch off the regenerative braking.

Really? Are you saying 7 mins of hard driving will render it literally unable to continue?

The S will go into reduced power mode after 7 minutes of track grade driving: https://jalopnik.com/heres-what-a-tesla-model-s-can-do-aroun...

It’s not a track car...what do people expect?

https://insideevs.com/expected-tesla-model-s-fails-lap-nurbu.... Not “unable to continue” perhaps, but unable to deliver a sports car-like performance.

The Porsche Mission-E will handle continuous top-speed just fine without overheating, so I figure Tesla will come up with a competitive cooling solution until 2020 as well.

Porsche has hundreds of millions of dollars of R&D poured into the 919 hybrid Le Mans Prototype, which I imagine will translate to the Mission E. Tesla has no such experience.


I await Tesla's foray into serious racing with bated breath. I'm sure Porsche and Audi are terrified.

If they gave a shit about developing actual performance EVs, I'd expect them to be in Formula E, but they're not. BMW, Audi, Mercedes and Porsche are.

Perhaps they're focusing on other things? Motorsport has always been about advertising, maybe they don't see an advantage in that at this time.

Yeah, it could drive more people to want to purchase Tesla cars but since they have production bottlenecks it's not the best of times to do so.

Too bad almost no-one watches the E series, because they're boring af (and the whiny sounds are cringy). Porsche did the translation to Mission E because its parent company is called VW, i.e. a company that should have paid damages worth tens of billions of euros because its diesel engines have killed and worsened the health of tens of thousands of people all over Europe, but because VW is a German "national treasure" nothing of that really happened.

specs insane, but the car doesnt exist anyway, who cares, it's not something people would buy

Look at every other comment in this thread. There are real videos of it on YouTube.

Seriously? I'm 90% sure this will NOT reach Lambo times in Nordschleife. And as a sports car, it will 100% not be fun to drive, weight is everything in a quick small car for fun.


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