Only 2,600 Tesla Roadster two-seat electric sports cars were ever made, yet those who own Tesla’s first mass-produced electric car are — with the exception of the vocal dissatisfied few — still extremely happy with their cars seven years after the car first debuted and three years after the last Tesla Roadster rolled off the production line.
Some are still used as daily drivers, loved by their owners for their sport acceleration, European styling and direct handling. Others are more cosseted, making occasional weekend outings when the weather is fine as part of their owners’ larger car collection. Others remain with their original owners, performing second-car duties alongside the Roadster’s larger, successor, the Model S electric sedan.
Three years after finishing Roadster production however, Tesla wants the world to know it hasn’t forgotten about its very first customers, and has just shared details of a real-world test of its long-promised battery upgrade for the two-seat sports car, driving around 340 miles from Los Angeles to San Francisco non-stop, with 20 miles of claimed range remaining on arrival.
First hinted at by Elon Musk back in July last year, the all-new battery pack will eventually be offered to Roadster customers as a drop-in replacement for their cars’ ageing, previous-generation 53 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery packs. In addition to being lighter than the original battery pack, the new pack is far more energy dense thanks to advances made over the past eight years in lithium-ion battery chemistry, managing to squeeze in 70 kilowatt-hours of energy storage in the same form factor as its predecessor.
In addition to the battery upgrade and to squeeze as much range out of the car as possible, Tesla’s ‘Roadster 3.0’ upgrade also includes a several key ‘bolt on’ revisions which increase the Roadster’s energy efficiency.
The first is an all-new aerodynamic kit which Tesla says reduces the car’s coefficient of drag to 0.31, some 15 percent better than the Roadster 2.0. Secondly, Tesla says it has opted for all-new tires which reduce the rolling resistance of the Roadster from 11.0 kilograms per ton to 8.9 kilograms per ton. That, combined with improved wheel bearings and eliminating residual brake drag results in a far more aerodynamic, more efficient car, says Tesla.
The first test seems to bear witness to that, with heating on for about 40-minutes worth of the trip and cruise control set ‘right around the speed limit.’
Of course, the first real-world test figures quoted by Tesla in its blog are a little shy of the 400-miles originally quoted by Musk. But given those 400-miles of range were calculated using a nominal speed of 50 miles per hour, we can forgive the real-world test of the Roadster 3.0 upgrade for coming up some 40 miles short of that target.
Even at 360 miles of real-world range, any Roadster given the ‘Roadster 3.0’ upgrade would be able to travel far further on a single charge than any other production electric car on the road today.
Pricing and availability will be announced by Tesla in the coming months, with the upgrade package available to any Roadster owner willing to part with the cash. Like previous Roadster upgrades — Tesla let customers with early production cars pay to upgrade their Roadsters to the latest “Roadster 2.0” and “Roadster 2.5” specification — anyone with a Roadster should be able to upgrade their car to the latest and greatest specifications.
For some, the upgrade will be a no-brainer, breathing life into their ageing yet treasured ride. For others, it will seem like a pointless extravagance.
After all, how many people do you know who can comfortably spend six hours behind the wheel without stopping? Not many, we’re sure. As we’ve said before however, Tesla’s Roadster battery upgrade package might only benefit a few thousand Tesla customers, but it will do one thing that money can’t buy.
It will continue to promote Tesla as the only automaker whose cars get better (and more advanced) with age.
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