With only 2,600 examples made, the Tesla Roadster two-seat electric sportscar ended production more than three years ago. And while the majority of car fans now turn their attention to its successor — the super-fast dual-motor Tesla Model S P85D — Tesla hasn’t forgotten the tiny two-seat car that made it famous.
So much so that for the past nine months or so, Tesla Motors [NASDAQ:TSLA] has been developing a brand-new, next-generation battery upgrade for its iconic two-seat sports car. When most automakers would view a car three-years out of production as little more than a discontinued model destined for ever-diminishing support and parts at dealerships, Tesla’s 3.0 upgrade package will not only breathe life into ageing Roadsters, but catapult them back into the limelight as the longest-range production car you can buy today.
So far, Tesla hasn’t committed to a launch date for the Roadster 3.0 upgrade, but over Twitter last week Tesla CEO Elon Musk promised Tesla fans they wouldn’t have long to wait.
With any luck, he promised, Roadster owners who want the upgrade will be able to buy one from August.
The conversation started when Bonnie Norman — an active member of the TeslaMotorsClub, owner of a Tesla Roadster Sport 2.5 and Model X Signature Series reservation holder — reached out to Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Twitter to ask about the status on the long-promised upgrade.
She, like many other owners at the TeslaMotorsClub were keen to hear any updates on the Roadster 3.0 upgrade package, and decided to ask Musk directly.
@elonmusk Roadster owners are getting restless. Any status update on battery/distance upgrade?
— Bonnie Norman (@bonnienorman) April 23, 2015
Musk’s reply was direct and to the point.
@bonnienorman New Roadster battery should complete safety validation by end of July, so likely available in August
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 23, 2015
While Tesla Motors has received most attention over the claimed 340-360 real-world range of the new Roadster battery pack, it’s worth noting that the all-new, more energy-dense next-generation replacement for the original Tesla Roadster battery pack isn’t the only thing Tesla will be upgrading on customers’ cars.
The Tesla Roadster 3.0 upgrade pack — the first time we can think of an automaker offering a post-production upgrade for a car they no-longer produce, consists of three main things designed to improve the efficiency and range of the original Roadster.
Firstly, there’s the battery pack itself, which Tesla says has been given a dramatic increase in capacity from the original 53 kilowatt-hours included in the original Roadster to 70 kilowatt-hours. Physically the same size as the first generation pack, the new pack is lighter than its predecessor, yet can fit in the same space in the Roadster.
Second comes a new aerodynamics kit which Tesla says will reduce the coefficient of drag to 0.31, some 15 percent better than the Roadster 2.0 design.
Finally, Tesla’s Roadster 3.0 upgrade kit includes all-new tires, brakes and wheel bearings which reduce the rolling resistance of the Roadster from 11.0 kilograms per ton to 8.9 kilograms per ton as well as eliminate residual brake drag.
Back in February, Tesla tested the real-world range of the Roadster upgrade pack by driving it non-stop between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Now, it appears Tesla is readying the finishing touches ahead of offering it to customers as early as this August — meaning there will still be plenty of top-down summertime left for those willing to pony up the (as yet unspecified) amount for the upgrade before the cold of fall and winter set in.
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