Elon Musk and Tesla have a nice present for the Roadster owners who were the company's early supporters and allowed it to survive the 2009 financial crisis that almost bankrupted the company. So after the Roadster 1.5 upgrade in 2008 and the 2.5 upgrade in 2010, it makes sense that Tesla would announce one more upgrade - this time to version 3.0 - as holiday gift.
So what's new?
The original Roadster battery was the very first lithium ion battery put into production in any vehicle. It was state of the art in 2008, but cell technology has improved substantially since then. Tesla has identified a new cell that has 31% more energy than the original Roadster cell. Using this new cell they have created a battery pack that delivers roughly 70kWh (!) in the same package as the original battery.
The original Roadster had a drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.36. Using modern computational methods, Tesla expect to make a 15% improvement, dropping the total Cd down to 0.31 with a retrofit aero kit.
3. Rolling Resistance
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.
Roadster upgrade will enable non-stop travel from LA to SF -- almost 400 mile range. Details tmrw. Merry Christmas!— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 25, 2014
Combine all these upgrades and improvements and you get a cumulative range increase of about 40-50% over the original Roadster. This means that under certain conditions, the 3.0 Roadster could drive 400 miles on a single charge! This isn't just a theoretical thing: Tesla is planning to demonstrate it with a non-stop drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles in early 2015.
Appointments for upgrading Roadsters will be taken this spring once the new battery pack finishes safety validation. Tesla is "confident that this will not be the last update the Roadster will receive in the many years to come".
Standing by your customers and taking care of them for the long-term is something that is all too rare, so kudos to Tesla for once again proving that it is not your average company!
Deleted tweetMusk also tweeted something else, but later deleted the tweet (maybe he said too much? he's been known to pre-announce things because he's so excited about them). Thankfully, I emailed the tweet to myself and have this copy of it here:
The Model S is already using more modern battery technology than the Roadster was using, so they couldn't upgrade it much right now. But in a few years? I wouldn't be surprised to see it get a range upgrade to 300-400 miles too.