Make no mistake, Elon Musk is now taking the commercialization of his Hyperloop idea very seriously. His Tesla-branded Hyperloop pod hit 220 mph (355 km/h), according to Musk, breaking the 201 mph speed record set by the students of team WARR at the Hyperloop Pod Competition earlier this week. Both records occurred at the 0.8-mile-long SpaceX Hyperloop test track that runs parallel to the company in Hawthorne California.
The Tesla pod, while fast, isn't anywhere near the supersonic speeds that Musk thinks are possible in the (near) vacuum of his test tube. And the mere 20 mph margin obtained by the Tesla pod makes the WARR accomplishment all the more impressive given the relatively tiny budget the students had to work with. Still, Musk thinks he can "get past 500 km/h (about half speed of sound) next month with a few tweaks or maybe tiny pieces," according to his Instagram post announcing the record.
Elon Musk first detailed the Hyperloop concept in a paper published in August, 2013, which called for aluminum pods capable of transporting human passengers at speeds up to 800 mph. At the time Musk said that the development of a prototype could take one or two years if it was his top priority. “But it's going to be pretty far from my top priority,” he said on a conference call, saying three or four years is more likely.