The Tesla Roadster – the company’s first electric car – has been discontinued since 2012, but the Californian EV maker is not forgetting its roots; its engineers are still coming up with goodies for its early supporters without whom the company would no doubt be rotting in the corporate graveyard right now (I know, I’m a little late for Halloween imagery…). The latest upgrade to be announced, which came as a holiday gift late last year, is an upgraded, more energy-dense battery pack than holds 40% more energy and should extend range by about 35% (because it is also heavier than the battery pack it replaces).
© Tesla Motors
The company has now confirmed that the new battery would contain cells from LG Chem, the same company that supplies batteries to GM for the Chevrolet Volt. This is a bit surprising because the Tesla Model S uses cells made by Panasonic, but made LG Chem offered a good deal or there’s something about the design of the original Roadster battery pack that makes the LG Chem cells more appropriate.
Or maybe this is Tesla trying to diversify its battery supply chain, and the Roadster upgrade is a small-scale way to do real-world testing with LG Chem to see if maybe at a later point they can start using more (maybe the next Gigafactory could be built with someone else than Panasonic as a partner?).
The battery is just one of three things that will bring the Roadster up to version 3.0: 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.