Entrepreneurs

Elon Musk teases flying cars: ‘Rocket tech applied to a car opens up revolutionary possibilities’

Tesla CEO Elon Musk shows off the Tesla Semi as he unveils the company's new electric semi truck during a presentation in Hawthorne, California, U.S., November 16, 2017.
Alexandria Sage | Reuters
Tesla CEO Elon Musk shows off the Tesla Semi as he unveils the company's new electric semi truck during a presentation in Hawthorne, California, U.S., November 16, 2017.

Elon Musk is the ultimate performer. And he knows it. His latest bit of intrigue? Sunday night, the billionaire teased the notion that the only thing stopping Tesla's most souped up Tesla Roadster from flying is safety precautions.

Thursday, after unveiling the Tesla Semi truck, Musk announced the next generation high-end Tesla Roadster.

The four-seater, high-performance electric vehicle, due out in 2020, will be able to go 250 miles per hour. The first run of 1,000 Roadsters will cost $250,000 each. "The point of doing this is to give a hardcore smackdown to gasoline cars," Musk said.

And then, as if to put a cherry on top, Musk tweeted that the model that goes from 0 to 100 kilometers per hour in 1.9 seconds is the "base model" and "there will be a special option package that takes it to the next level."

The car will "maybe" be able to fly "short hops," he said.

"Not saying the next gen Roadster special upgrade package *will* definitely enable it to fly short hops, but maybe …

"Certainly possible. Just a question of safety. Rocket tech applied to a car opens up revolutionary possibilities."

Though admittedly a bit Jetson-esque, tech titan Musk is also CEO of SpaceX, affording Tesla the knowledge and access to rocket technology.

Still, Musk has also said the notion of a flying car has some practical challenges.

"I'm in favor of flying things. Obviously, I do rockets, so I like things that fly. This is not some inherent bias against flying things, but there is a challenge with flying cars in that they'll be quite noisy, the wind force generated will be very high. Let's just say that if something's flying over your head, a whole bunch of flying cars going all over the place, that is not an anxiety-reducing situation," Musk said in an April 2017 TED Talk.

"You don't think to yourself, 'Well, I feel better about today.' You're thinking, 'Did they service their hubcap, or is it going to come off and guillotine me?' Things like that," said Musk.

This is why, among other reasons, Musk has started digging tunnels in Los Angeles to create an alternative to area's horrendous traffic jams. His company, The Boring Company, also posits the technical challenges of flying cars.

"Unlike flying cars, tunnels are weatherproof, out of sight and won't fall on your head," The Boring Company website says. "To alleviate traffic, transportation corridors, like the buildings that feed into them, must expand into three dimensions. One option is to 'go up' with flying cars. However, flying cars have issues with weather, noise, and generally increase anxiety levels of those below them. The other option is to 'go down' and build tunnels."