Most cars get worse over time, or at least they don’t get better, but the Tesla Roadster is still getting better even 3 years after it was officially discontinued, proving that Teslas really are different. They usually get new features from wireless software updates (like the most recent one adding some self-driving capabilities to the Model S), but once in a while, a hardware update becomes available. A recent one was the 90kWh battery pack, which will be available in new vehicles and as an upgrade for owners of the 85kWh model.
Roadster owners, who were the early supporters of the company, without whom it would definitely have been snuffed out of existence by the 2008-2009 financial crisis, are seeing their loyalty rewarded with continued upgrades. The latest one, which will bring the Roadster to version 3.0, is comprised of 3 things. The centerpiece is a new battery pack that stores about 40% more energy than the original Roadster battery (but also weights a bit more). There’s also a a retrofit aero kit to improve aerodynamics by about 15%, getting the EV from a drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.36 down to 0.31, which is very slippery. There’s also a rolling resistance improvement: “The original Roadster tires have a rolling resistance coefficient (Crr) of 11.0 kg/ton. New tires that they will use on the Roadster 3.0 have a Crr of roughly 8.9 kg/ton, about a 20% improvement. They are also making improvements in the wheel bearings and residual brake drag that further reduce overall rolling resistance of the car.”
These three things together will bring the Roadster driving range up by about 40-50% compared, or between 343 and 368 miles officially. The company has said that under certain conditions (not driving too fast…), 400 miles of range is definitely possible.
Of course, as with the original Roadster itself, none of this is cheap. The company explains the pricing, mentioning that they are not making a profit on this upgrade, but it’s still expensive because of the very low volumes and because the packs need to be hand-made (can’t set up a robotized production line for just a few battery packs):
The price of the battery upgrade is $29,000, including all labor and logistics, which is equal to Tesla’s expected cost. It is not our intention to make a profit on the battery pack. 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. It also includes additional work to remove, upgrade, and reinstall the power electronics module (PEM.)
All removed battery modules will be fully recycled or reused if possible, and we will reuse many other components from the old battery. Batteries are currently being upgraded in Fremont, CA and we will need sufficient time when scheduling your service to ship and pre-position the needed parts to your local service center. Depending on local service team workload the upgrade will only take a few days once the parts are in place.
So that’s a lot of cash, but if you could afford a Roadster in the first place, chances are you are not too price-sensitive. For the rest of us, each day that passes brings us closer to the more affordable Model 3…
And in semi-unrelated news, Oprah just bought a Tesla and posted this on her Instagram: