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0-100 km/h in One Second? Have We Gone Crazy?

Tesla Model S | Photo: Tesla
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Daniel Rufiange
How much acceleration does a car really need?

•   0-100 km/h in under a second? Have we reached the level of crazy?

Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently announced that the new Roadster the EV maker has been promising for seven years will finally go into production towards the end of this year, and that it will be able to speed from 0-60 mph (0-97 km/h) in less than a second.

Which of course begs the simple question: "Why?"

When Musk announced the model in 2017, he claimed the car would do the 0-60 trick in 1.9 seconds. That was already totally outrageous. And now another a second or almost is being shaved off that time. Remember that in recent years, Tesla launched the Plaid version of theModel S, which can go from 0 to 60 mph in about 2.1 seconds (2.0 seconds for 0-60 mph).

No one will argue that's not impressive. It is. But is it necessary? You won't hear us make that case.

In the world of motor racing, you expect to be pushed to the limit; it's the nature of the sport. When it comes to cars on the road, that kind of acceleration is nonsensical, downright dangerous.

Let's be clear, this applies for any model designed, whether electric or gas-fed. For instance, models such as Dodge's steroidal versions of the Charger sedan and Challenger coupe. In January 2022, a horrific accident occurred in Las Vegas, in which the driver of a Dodge Challenger travelling over 160 mph on a road with a 60-mph speed limit crashed into a vehicle carrying seven people, including three young children. All were killed.

Tesla Model 3
Tesla Model 3 | Photo: Tesla

Yes, it's possible to reach these speeds with a car powered by a 150-hp engine, but the temptation is much greater with a model equipped with a monster engine under the hood... or hyper-powerful electric motors.

Where should the line be drawn when it comes to passenger cars? Should the authorities draw one? Do manufacturers have a moral responsibility? Isn't it ultimately the responsibility of every driver to behave in a civilized manner on the road? We don't have the answer. Call us concerned citizens. But the mere thought that with the increasing number of high-performance vehicles on the road, many inexperienced drivers will soon find themselves behind the wheel of veritable rockets is cause for worry.

Manufacturers will always offer more, because it's addictive and it makes for marketing one-upmanship. While today only certain exceptional cars are capable of such feats, tomorrow it will be the likes of the Toyota Corolla and Honda CR-V harbouring far too much violent power.

The power output of a given model is a not inconsiderable safety feature, because it allows us to avoid the worst in certain conditions. But we don't need 1,000 hp for that.

Daniel Rufiange
Daniel Rufiange
Automotive expert
  • Over 17 years' experience as an automotive journalist
  • More than 75 test drives in the past year
  • Participation in over 250 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists