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Tesla previews “Roadster 3.0” update; 70 kWh pack

In a post on the company blog, Tesla Motors outlined the areas addressed with an upcoming a Roadster 3.0 upgrade, based on learnings from the Model S. Tesla also said no new Model S battery pack or major range upgrade is expected in the near term. The prototype Roadster 3.0 package consists of three main improvement areas:

  • Batteries. Tesla said it has identified a new LI-ion cell that has 31% more energy than the original Roadster cell. Using this new cell, they have created a battery pack that delivers roughly 70 kWh in the same package as the original battery.

  • Aerodynamics. The original Roadster had a drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.36. Using modern computational methods, Tesla expects to make a 15% improvement, dropping the total Cd down to 0.31 with a retrofit aero kit.

  • Rolling Resistance. The original Roadster tires have a rolling resistance coefficient (Crr) of 11.0 kg/ton. New tires on the Roadster 3.0 have a Crr of roughly 8.9 kg/ton, about a 20% improvement. Tesla is also making improvements in the wheel bearings and residual brake drag that further reduce overall rolling resistance of the car.

Tesla expects the combination of the three to deliver a 40-50% improvement on range between the original Roadster and Roadster 3.0. There is a set of speeds and driving conditions under which Tesla says it can confidently drive the Roadster 3.0 more than 400 miles. Tesla will demonstrate this in the real world during a non-stop drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles in the early weeks of 2015.



Per the blog, this is an update for the original cars, making them literally better than new.

Try that with anything from Ford, GM, Fiat, VW or even BMW!


Retrofit, upgrade, constant refinement are in my opinion THE KEY
buzzwords that indicate commitment to customer satisfaction.
This is the most important factor when I look at purchasing a vehicle.

If it is a bit more than the budget can stand now, it will still be worth waiting for as second hand.(even more so if spares are readily available and more affordable as increased market share and total volume increase year on year.

No other volume producer would consider this approach as it would mess with built in obsolescence model.

The doomsayers "imminent demise of loss making Tesla" are so far from the praise and appreciation freely pronounced by informed thinking people as to make it almost incomprehensible.

Hat tip to Mahonj.

It is a curious upgrade. The roadster is not a great road trip car. It's not big and it's not very comfortable to drive for 5 hours straight. The announcement said nothing about supercharging, so although it has longer range, it is very much constrained to a fixed radius in a single day.

A battery that costs 30% less and is 30% lighter would seem a better choice for a sports car worth keeping and upgrading.

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Tesla had to do it the way they did because a less heavy battery pack with same range as the old Roadster would necessitate a new EPA authorization that cost millions of USD. Also, as you point out, the Roadster can't do 135kW fast charging like the Model S so more range is the only option left to reduce range anxiety.

I think that Tesla is making two points that matters: 1) As EP said, unlike gassers, BEVs only get better over time because batteries improve and can be used to upgrade the range 10 years after you bought the BEV. 2) 400 miles range for a BEV beats anything that a concept hydrogen car can do. The Model III could get a battery option with a really long range for those who want to pay for that.


New EPA authorization?  The cars have long since been sold, the ZEV credits distributed; it doesn't matter what anyone does to them (including sell them overseas or crush them), the EPA isn't going to be involved unless something that makes air emissions is added, and maybe not even then.

At least there's a J1772 adapter for the Roadster.  That opens access to a large amount of charging infrastructure.

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EP if you change the weight of the car significantly then from a legal point of view it is a new car that needs to be approved all over again, new crash testing, new EPA sticker etc. Tesla's dual drive Model S changed enough regarding its weight to trigger that procedure. This is also a problem with making a new battery pack for the Model S. Tesla will need to use Panasonic's heavier 4.0 Ah cell and that will trigger new authorizations. For the Tesla Rodster I am pretty sure they used the same cell as is currently used in the Model S. That cell has the same weight as the cells used in the old Roadster so the weight of the Roadster will not change.


Henrik, the P85D is a new vehicle, not a refurbished one.  People can and do make extensive non-emissions-related changes to their vehicles, including adding and removing lots of weight, and government regulators have no say in the matter.

Since the Roadster emits no criteria air pollutants, the EPA would not be involved period.  There is no tailpipe to test.

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I am not sure you are right about car makers being allowed to sell retrofits to old cars that significantly changes the vehicles without being forced to have these vehicles reapproved. However, I do not know for sure myself so you could be right. Let's see what happens when Model S gets a new and bigger battery pack option. It will weigh more if Tesla chooses to use Panasonic's silicon 4.0Ah cells and I am pretty sure it will trigger a new authorization process even though it is an old model.

I know there is no pollutant for EPA to check in a BEV but it is still EPA's responsibility to make an efficiency sticker that is required for any cars that are sold. A new battery effects the information on that sticker. I don't think it cost a lot to get an efficiency sticker from EPA for a BEV. The crash testing, however, is really expensive but that is not EPA but some other agency.

You make a good point Henrik, that there might be regulatory issues we're not aware of. But I wouldn't think it was the EPA efficiency sticker. Weight and balance, possibly.

I'm inclined to believe it's more for the PR value, not a bad thing for Tesla and EVs in general, I'm not complaining.

With a 400 mile range, I'm that much more likely to buy one for the Electric Car Guest Drive, although the crew will have to draw lots for the chore of repositioning it. It will only be popular the first time on a long highway drive.


EPA and NHTSA are two different agencies. EPA is emissions and NHTSA is safety. If you change the weight and it has safety implications, NHTSA wants to know.


E-P has it right; Tesla is upgrading an older model car....don't know of another car maker who does that.....yet...or ever will.

It will be interesting to see if Nissan takes care of their customer base by offering the 2016 longer range battery upgrade to 2011-15 MY Leafs. This would be a definite welcomed, change of policy from the current policies drafted with IC cars in mind.

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Tesla makes it crystal clear that future upgrades are deliberately planned for I quote "We are confident that this (Roadster 3.0) will not be the last update the Roadster will receive in the many years to come."


If this continues these very first BEVs that the world got that was worth driving will become priceless collectors' items in 50 years from now.

Thomas Lankester


I heard the Renault Zoe chief designer gave battery upgradability as one of the requirements to her team. I've heard that from a couple of dealers as well as just off the Internet.
BTW, just ended the lease on my (P1) Leaf for a second hand Renault Zoe with (20% reduced) battery rental. 2k (miles) on the clock but £6000 (40%) cheaper than new list price.


Bang goes the Tesla meme of only being supply limited.
If that were really the case they would be putting the 2000 or so battery packs into Tesla S cars and selling them.

They are wondering what to do with all the batteries they are contracted to Panasonic for up until the Model X starts production.

That is a truly kooky theory Davemart. Tesla's current annual production volume of the Model S is over 15x that of the legacy Roadster production. Building upgrade packs for the Roadster will be a tiny fraction of battery supply.

Solar City, on the other hand, could probably consume the entire supply if they started marketing their stationary storage packs aggressively.


If you are in business, and have any respect for your customers, you supply them if possible.
You don't go diverting the batteries to Roadsters.
As for the Solar City thing, which incidentally is a fine way of making selling a house very difficult for anyone mug enough to take out the 30 year indentures in typical Musk morality, where is your evidence that people are taking up the absurd notion of going off grid and storing the energy in batteries?

It makes zero economic sense, and not even the hucksterism of Musk can move that dodo.

Davemart, with all you post (and therefore presumably read) the posts today are just willfully ignorant.

Solar City is selling these units now.

There's a $0.34 per kWh arbitrage to be made on peak vs super-off-peak power in Southern California alone. Most of the SF Bay area have similar rates.

The annual savings for an mid-size house, after paying for the system, is ~ $600 per year. Over just the 10 year warranty life of the unit, that's $6,000.

They have *already sold* a number equivalent to 1/4 the total number of Tesla Roadsters ever sold.

In most parts of California at least, where I know the Utility rates well, on a monthly basis, you are assured to make money with the Tesla Stationary storage unit after the first year - it's only $15/month after a $1,500 deposit.

DM> If you have any respect for your customers, you supply them if possible...

Presumably that would extend to your earliest, best, most ardent supporters?

Like Roadster purchasers?

The PR value alone of a 400 mile EV is worth the engineering effort, which is almost certainly why they did it (how many Roadster drivers really need to go cross country in that slot car? A huge number of them also own Model S - I know, I count).


"The doomsayers 'imminent demise of loss making Tesla' are so far from the praise and appreciation freely pronounced by informed thinking people as to make it almost incomprehensible."

Wow. I will freely state that "imminent demise" is highly unlikely since Tesla is able to continually raise cash from its adherents. However, I think the implication that skepticism over the continually negative earnings Tesla business model infers non-thinking, uninformed criticism is over the top and foolish.

Because the Tesla business structure is and remains an enterprise nourished by cash through financing, they cannot allow the Roadster legacy to fade away into the image of cars like the Sunbeam Tiger or the Cobra as a quick and cool but unreliable cross-ocean hybrid. Roadsters were frequently hanger queens, with Tesla spending over $0.30/mile in warranty expense to keep the fleet running. You can call this behavior and the upgrade "dedication to customers", and I suppose it is, but it is not a sustainable economic practice without acolyte cash, even with only 3000 or so sold -- which is why nobody else does this.

That Musk would choose a tiny, race-inspired road/track car with marginal ergonomics, suddenly become obese with awful HVAC, for significantly extended RANGE baffles me. What the Roadster needs is lightness and track reliability: keep the real-world 200mi range with a lighter battery and give both the cells and the inverter better cooling. Ignoring weight and thermal issues, and running this car on LRR tires, makes its unsuitability for sport even more noticeable, and does nothing for the car's sensitivity to thrashing. But this has nothing to do with what makes sense: it's about the message to investors. I don't blame Musk, but let's not get all misty about the meaning of the project.

The idea of "upgradeable" range, regardless of impracticality, expense, or the fact that 400 miles will require the driving habits of an arthritic octogenarian, is an important story for the markets and the next round of bond issuance. And it will surely be successful, even if only a few dozen owners take the company up on the offer. So look for another price recovery in the near term. I'm not going back to the stock, but to those who weathered the trip down over the past 4 months this has to be heartening.

As for "trying that with anything from GM": I just did. I upgraded my nephew's low-mile 2010 V-6 equipped Camaro as a gift upon his discharge from the Corps. My local shop installed a lovely new LS3 6.2L crate engine (CARB approved) and a new transmission from a wrecked SS for just over $13k. TOTAL. The engine comes from Chevy Performance, who does all the EPA and CARB approval processes (the engine comprised just under $8k of the total price tag, BTW). So a factory-designed and warrantied engine from the manufacturer that bolts right in with modest effort... wonder of wonders, factory-designed and built upgrades are available for all the performance versions of Ford and GM cars, for the Fiat (Abarth) and some BMWs. The factory provides training, test equipment, spares... pretty much makes it possible for franchised service centers or independents to do the work.

I know: as odd as it seems Tesla did NOT invent the idea of making your car better! Yeah, shocked me, too.

BTW: when will you be able to buy the Roadster upgrade, and how much? OK, OK, I know: if you have to ask, you're not disruptive. Sorry.


You misinterpreted my statement I can see why, you were thinking the lux report that I hadn't read.

I was referring specifically to the Tesla 'type' technology.

Many anti ev comments about the technical impossibility as well as financial hazard flying the face of glowing owner reports are grist for my mill, you freely state

"Wow. I will freely state that "imminent demise" is highly unlikely since Tesla is able to continually raise cash from its adherents. However, I think the implication that skepticism over the continually negative earnings Tesla business model infers non-thinking, uninformed criticism is over the top and foolish.

I would say that good things can create disruptive demand as per my neihbours 120 horses carrying buisness that totally crashed when the auto took off.They burnt the wagons and 240 sets harness. The patriarch became a 1st class motor mech.\

Herman you have writen about Tesla stock and future prospects and are entitled to that view I can't say that your info is incorrect, but everyone can and should exercise their own judgment. If wide ranging data is considered that is better than rose glasses or pessimistic defeatism.

You will understand that there are people payed to promote multinational co and stockholder interests (or spin and snow) that post to these pages and others simply looking to cyber bully.

I freely state that I am primarily concerned with the advancement of 'sustainable' motor propelled transport as well as a well founded concern on all matters related to climate change being a much larger problem than most posters believe.
A view I have held from my fist posts.
That view mandates the end of fossil fuel use as fast as practically possible as a priority.

I am also opposed to the expansion of the nuclaer power industry for various reasons the first being the threat of nuclear weapon proliferation and potential for accidental ? or deliberate use.

Some would say that the lack of foresight does not constitute an

On a personal note I believe you write intelligently, however while I rarely agree with anyone 100%, I do appreciate all your comments (esp those that may pull up the overenthusiastic.)

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In Tesla's announcement you can read "Appointments for upgrading Roadsters will be taken this spring once the new battery pack finishes safety validation." As for price I don't know for sure but at 50,000 USD for the upgrade Tesla would have a gross margin of about 50%. Tesla could sell about 200 upgrades per year so 5 million USD per year (200*25,000) for paying for the engineer hours that Tesla spent making this upgrade available. I do not think Tesla will lose money selling upgrades for their EVs. Plus as you say Tesla are gaining marketing points by being able to say that their EVs are upgradable and only get more range over time.

It is a general trend that companies who cares for the sustainability of their products develop programs that offer old refurbished products with new warranties. Apple does it, Tesla does it and everyone will do it going forward if they sell a physical product that is suited for that. There need not be any loss of money here. On the contrary as a company you get an opportunity to sell the products twice.

I am following Tesla closely and I see them doing many more things right than wrong. On the very short wrong list is the fact that too many drive units have malfunctioned on the Model S P85. In Norway nearly 2000 of 7000 Model S have had their drive units replaced under warranty despite that these vehicles are less than 2 years old. Tesla discovered that the units had failed because the one speed gearbox in the unit did not get lubricated during manufacturing. That lubrication mechanism may also have been insufficient. In order to replace all the Norwegian drive units Tesla had to slow down production of new Model S. So this is a really costly issue. Musk also realized that in order to prevent similar bugs in the Model X they needed to test it more thoroughly than they originally planned. This is why it is delayed. Basically Musk has admitted that the first Model S that Tesla made were not as ready as they should have been generating a much higher number of warranty issues than expected. Another error in my opinion is those falcon doors for the Model X. If you think it through they are more trouble than they are worth in terms of coolness, easy access. They cost a lot, they are less durable, they cannot open in a garage with a low roof. If you open these doors in bad weather your cabin will be flooded by rain or snow (but at least the kids will get a laugh out of it). Otherwise I think Tesla is doing everything right.


There is a set of speeds and driving conditions under which Tesla says it can confidently drive the Roadster 3.0 more than 400 miles.

The speed is the big variable here: The 85 kWh Model S could also get 400 miles per charge - in theory - but you would have to keep the speed below 40 mph;

Tesla plans to demonstrate 400 miles range in a non-stop drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles? I wonder how much time they'll spend on the I-5. Google maps shows me a 446 mile route that avoids highways.


BTW: The "tested range" for the Tesla Roadster in combined LA4 (city) & HFEDS (highway), in accordance with California Code of Regulations, is 245 miles. So a 40-50% increase in range would push that up to 343-367 miles. Again, that would be for a combined city & highway range so I wonder what it would take to get 400 miles out of the roadster on a cross country trip that was mostly done at 55 mph.

Q: I wonder what it would take to get 400 miles out of the roadster on a cross country trip

A: A really good tail wind.


I have considered trying to "sail" my Fusion Energi on some of the long, straight roads in the western states.  It would be fun cruising the car along, watching the battery charge go up from regeneration.

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