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Tesla’s Elon Musk has never been shy about making bold claims. But his claim that the new Tesla Roadster will include rocket propulsion and hovering capability is more far-flung than most. We reached out to the National Highway Safety and Transportation Administration (NHTSA) for comment on Musk’s Tesla Roadster claims. Their response didn’t say anything overt regarding legality. However, it does provide some obstacles for Tesla to overcome if Musk’s claims are to become reality.

A white new Tesla Roadster rendered in front of a modern house in the evening.
We have to admit, the new Tesla Roadster looks good | Tesla

NHTSA Comments on Musk’s Outlandish Tesla Roadster Claims

We reached out to NHTSA via email for comment on Musk’s claims of both rocket propulsion and hover capability in the Tesla Roadster. Here is their statement, in full:

“Safety is the U.S. Department of Transportation and NHTSA’s top priority. Excessive speed is dangerous for everyone on the road, and speed plays an enormous factor in whether a crash results in serious injury or death. Manufacturers are responsible for designing vehicles that meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and that may be safely operated, and NHTSA urges all drivers to operate their vehicles in a manner that is safe for themselves and all other road users. In addition, some states and localities may consider excessive acceleration to be unsafe or reckless driving.

For guidance, for further information related to vehicles capable of above ground level operation, please contact the FAA.”

So let’s pick that answer apart, shall we?

A red Tesla Roadster rendered on a desert mountain road
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Analyzing NHTSA’s statement about that Tesla Roadster

There are a few items in that statement that caught our attention. For starters, referring us to the Federal Aviation Administration takes aim at the hovering claim. Vehicles capable of above ground level operation means that a hovering roadster would be classified as an aircraft. While you wouldn’t be required to have a pilot’s license to buy one, you would need one to legally fly a hovering Roadster. In addition, you’d be required to take your Roadster to an airfield to legally operate the vehicle above ground.

No comment on rocket booster legality

While NHTSA’s comments on the Tesla Roadster don’t specify anything regarding cold-gas rocket booster capability, there is a reason for this. Currently, automotive regulations don’t account for rocket boosters. In short, rocket boosters on the Roadster could be legal. However, that is only because no mass-production car has ever attempted to include them. That said, getting approval for this technology for road use would require an all-new approval process. Regulating a brand-new type of vehicle would take considerable time. And even if a rocket-boosted Tesla Roadster were an optional package to an otherwise street-legal car, the regulatory process for such an add-on likely would not be simple.

Will we ever see a new Tesla Roadster in production?

As with all things Tesla, delays seem to be plaguing the new Tesla Roadster. Even the much-anticipated Cybertruck delays continue, according to Jalopnik. This, despite its initial announcement in 2017. Currently, there is no news on a real production date for the new Tesla Roadster, rocket boosted or otherwise.