6 Years Ago, 1,000 People Gave Tesla $US250,000 for a Roadster. Where is it?

6 Years Ago, 1,000 People Gave Tesla $US250,000 for a Roadster. Where is it?

The Tesla Semi launch event was held on November 16th, 2017, exactly six years ago last week. At the end of that launch event, Elon Musk had a signature “one more thing” that was the unveiling of the incredible second-generation Tesla Roadster. Back then the car was promised to be delivered in 2020, which obviously didn’t happen, but it was compelling. The order books for the car were opened immediately after the event, and people were asked to wire transfer $US50,000 to secure their place in line for the car, or pay the full $US250,000 for one of the one-thousand “Founders Edition” models.

This car was a huge deal in 2017, promising to be the quickest-ever production car, and the first to do a sub-two-second 0-60 time and a sub-nine-second quarter mile. Of course, both of those have already been achieved by other production cars, including the Lucid Air Sapphire. The Roadster also promised a top speed in excess of 250 miles per hour and 620 miles of range at highway speed.

Elon called this a “hardcore smackdown to gasoline cars”. Everything he said on stage was compelling. This promised to be a very fast, very flashy, very capable car, and at the quarter million asking price, would embarrass pretty much every sports car on the market in acceleration and likely lap times at most tracks. If you had the money, why wouldn’t you put a deposit down and wait a couple years to pick up your new speed machine?

From Q1 2017 through Q1 2018, Tesla was losing $US7,430 per minute. The company was just figuring out how to get Model 3 production up and running, and that cost a whole lot of money. Elon Musk admitted that the company was “less than a month from bankruptcy” at the time. If you’re a company in dire straits, and cash is key to your survival, you’ll do anything to get your hands on some, right? Would you make up some specs about some new products and pass a hat around the room to get some “deposits” for your wildly unrealistic promises?

The Tesla Semi event, at which the Roadster was launched, might have been the turning point for the company. Rather than selling off some of his ownership of the company, Musk sold promises at $US250,000 a piece, and has yet to honour them. Tesla had the equivalent of a Kickstarter campaign, and it’s not delivering perks. That quarter-billion just for the Founders Edition cars probably helped the company quite a bit, and there’s no telling how many $US50,000 deposits the company got and still holds. Much the same way Starbucks isn’t really a coffee company, Tesla isn’t really a car company.

Tesla is a promise company. It makes promises to its customers, various governments, and other businesses. Those promises require up-front payment, and whether they come to fruition or not, the company keeps the money while continually blowing through deadlines.

It’s been six years since the Roadster was unveiled, and we haven’t seen so much as prototype out testing or putting in Nürburgring laps or whatever. If I’d handed over a deposit to Tesla, I’d be pretty perturbed about it. Hell, even the bizarre Cybertruck was introduced in 2019 and allegedly will reach some customers this month, and the Semi has been in use by Pepsi and others for a while now. Roadster buyers, when are you getting your car?

Screenshot: Tesla

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