Back in September, Californian automaker Tesla Motors [NASDAQ:TSLA]confirmed that its long-awaited Tesla Roadster 3.0 upgrade package was ready to hit the market, offering owners of its iconic two-seat sports car a way of upgrading the range and efficiency of their cars for an all-inclusive price of $29,000.
First previewed at the end of 2014, Tesla promised the Roadster 3.0 package would not only upgrade the original 54 kilowatt-hour battery pack in a customer’s Roadster to one with 40 percent more energy, but also fit a more energy-efficient aerodynamic body kit as well as improved brakes, wheels and tires for lower rolling resistance and improved efficiency. When fitted, Tesla said, Roadster 3.0 models would be capable of driving 400 miles without needing a recharge.
But in September when the kid was finally launched, Tesla dropped something of a bombshell for the limited number of early Tesla Roadster owners: the upgrade package would only be offered to owners of Tesla Roadster 2.0 and 2.5 models.
While that news meant that the overwhelming majority of Roadster owners would be able to order the upgrade pack for their car, it did leave some 500 Tesla Roadster 1.5 customers out in the cold, something that caused some frustration to those early Tesla owners.
That, we thought, was the end of the story — until an eagle-eyed Tesla Motors Club forum member noted that Tesla’s page covering the Roadster 3.0 upgrade program now specifically states that the upgrade is “Now available for all Roadster models.”
It’s not clear what made Tesla change its policy on the earlier cars, but the text accompanying the page now says that Tesla will remove, upgrade and reinstall the power electronics module (PEM) as part of its 3.0 upgrade package.
Previously, we had postulated one of the reasons early Tesla Roadster 1.5 examples weren’t included in the upgrade was the fact that the Tesla Roadster 1.5 model used a third-party, non-Tesla power electronics module, as well as a different arrangement of cells in their battery packs.
Of the upgrade process, Tesla says that the upgrade price of $29,000 might include all labor and logistics associated with the upgrade program but is also “equal to Tesla’s expected cost.”
“It is not our intention to make a profit on the battery pack,” Tesla says on its website. “The reason the cost per kWh is higher than a Model S battery is due to the almost entirely hand-built, low volume (only 2 or 3 per week) nature of Roadster battery packs.”
The extra work to remove the relevant power electronics module also eats away at any potential profit for the company, meaning Tesla is essentially offering the Roadster upgrade program as a way of keeping its original Roadster owners happy, something that few other car companies would even entertain.
It’s also — as we’ve noted before — a very shrewd act of marketing genius.
To purchase the upgrade for their cars, Tesla Roadster owners will need to place a $5,000 deposit down at the Tesla Motors website, as well as be willing to have something of a wait for their upgrade to take place.
While Tesla says it will upgrade cars as quickly as possible, the entire process is governed by the speed in which battery packs can be made. At 2-3 packs per week, that means only two or three replacement procedures can take place in any one week.
With that in mind, Tesla says customers will be contacted to schedule an installation appointment once they’ve paid the $5,000 deposit and inventory becomes available for their car. Once Tesla has scheduled a customer’s car in for a 3.0 upgrade, it will ship the required parts to the customer’s chosen local service centre. Once the parts have arrived and depending on local service team workload, Tesla says the upgrade will take a few days.
As for the removed components? They’ll head back to Tesla’s Fremont production facility, where the old battery cells will be removed and new ones fitted in their place. Many of the original components from the original battery pack will be refurbished and reused, and the entire pack will undergo thorough testing before being shipped out to a Tesla service centre to be fitted to another customer’s car.
Are you an early Tesla Roadster 1.5 owner? Are you glad to be finally offered an upgrade for your car’s aging battery pack? And will you stump up the price of a brand-new Nissan LEAF to get that claimed 400-miles of range at 55 mph?
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