Who Travels Faster: Santa Claus or Elon Musk in a Tesla?

Santa Claus covers a great deal of ground as he flies around the world with his sleigh on Christmas Eve. You would think that to deliver presents to hundreds of millions of little boys and girls on the planet — all in one night, Santa and his reindeer must travel very fast. But how fast does Santa actually travel? Is Santa faster than a Tesla electric car? In a drag race between Santa and his reindeer and Elon Musk driving a Tesla, who would win?

Santa travels at 0.5% the speed of light — around 3.5 million mph

Santa Claus in a sleigh and Elon Musk by some Tesla vehicles, highlighting who is faster
Santa Claus and Elon Musk | Colin Lloyd via Unsplash; Odd Anderson/AFP via Getty Images

We’ll get to how fast Elon Musk in one of his Teslas travels, but before that, we’ll discuss the speed of Santa. Fortunately for us, physics students at the University of Leicester in England calculated how fast Santa Claus and his reindeer travel to deliver presents around the world. 

First, the students calculated how many households Santa would need to visit on Christmas Eve. They estimated that there are approximately 715 million Christian children on the planet — with an average of three children for each household. That means that Santa would need to visit around 238 million households.

After determining the number of households, the physics students calculated the time that Santa Claus spends delivering his presents on Christmas Eve. They assumed a travel time of 12 hours — but also took into account the time zones with a travel direction of east to west. This gives him an additional 24 hours to finish his deliveries. 

Based on all these figures, they calculated that Santa Claus travels at a speed of 1.56 x 106 meters per second. That equates to 0.5% the speed of light — or around 3.5 million mph. 

The 3.5 million mph speed that Santa travels is very fast. To put it in “practical” terms, at this speed, it only takes two seconds for him and his reindeer to fly from New York to Los Angeles.

Elon Musk in a Tesla is fast — but Santa smokes him in a drag race

Elon Musk dancing by a black Tesla Model Y
Elon Musk and Tesla Model Y | Christian Marquardt/Pool via Getty Images

How does the speed of Santa and his reindeer compare to Elon Musk in one of his Tesla electric cars? Tesla models are fast and boast quick acceleration. However, Santa would easily smoke Musk in a drag race. 

The fastest Tesla electric car currently available is the Model S sports sedan, which has a top speed of 200 mph. There’s also the not-yet-released second-generation Tesla Roadster, which Musk claims will have a top speed of 250 mph. 

Here are the top speeds of current and future Tesla electric vehicles:

  • Tesla Roadster: 250 mph
  • Tesla Model S: 200 mph
  • Tesla Model 3: 162 mph
  • Tesla Model Y: 155 mph
  • Tesla Model X: 149 mph
  • Tesla Cybertruck: 130 mph

Tesla vehicles are fast, but none of them come close to matching the speed of Santa Claus and his reindeer. Even if Musk placed a Tesla in one of his SpaceX rockets, he still wouldn’t be able to keep up with Santa. The SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket can travel at 24,250 feet per second — or around 16,530 mph. That’s very fast, but it’s considerably slower than the 3.5 million mph speed that Santa travels.

Will Musk rage tweet about getting beat by Santa? 

Santa Claus driving a red vintage car, highlighting who is faster, Santa or Elon Musk in a Tesla
Santa Claus in a vintage car | Thomas Park via Unsplash
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Elon Musk is notorious for going on Twitter and writing divisive tweets, especially toward a perceived challenge or threat. Tesla still sells the most electric cars, but other automakers are catching up — and Musk has sent derogatory tweets to many manufacturers of EVs. This includes EV startups such as Rivian, Lucid, and Fisker, as well as big automakers such as Ford and GM. Also, since Musk’s chaotic takeover of Twitter, his divisive tweets have increased. 

With all this in mind, it leaves one to wonder if Elon Musk would rage tweet about getting beat by Santa Claus in a drag race. Would he claim that the race was unfair? Would he disparage Santa? 

Either way, given all of Musk’s antics, there’s a good chance he’ll get a lump of coal in his stocking for Christmas.