Tesla Announces Roadster 3.0 Upgrade: 70 kWh Battery and New Aero Kit

3 years ago by Jay Cole 45

Roadster 3.0 Upgrade Package Includes 31% Larger Battery Pack And Aero Kit

Roadster 3.0 Upgrade Package Includes 31% Larger Battery Pack And Aero Kit

Tesla CEO Elon Musk's Earlier Tweet Announcing The...Uh, Announcement

Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s Earlier Tweet Announcing The…Uh, Announcement

As foretold earlier this week, Tesla has rolled out the prototype “Roadster 3.0 Package“.

With precious few days left in 2014 to make good on an earlier promise to update the battery technology found in the Roadster, which first hit the market in 2008, Elon Musk tweeted that all would be revealed after Christmas.

That day turned out to be today, as Tesla Motors announced that current Roadster owners (~2,500 of them) are looking at being able to swap out their old batteries  (53 kWh) for new ones with improved technology providing 70 kWh of power.

In addition, and also somewhat unexpected, a Roadster 3.0 retrofit aero kit is part of the package that will make the 2 seater 15% more efficient slipping through the air, along with a new available set of tires, wheel bearings etc. that will aid the car in achieving more range.

How much more range is now on tap? the company says to expect 40-50% more miles.  The original iteration of Roadster had been rated by the EPA at 244 miles.   Under the right set of circumstance, the company says one could expect to get more than 400 miles.

Tesla will demo the long-range Roadster 3.0 in early 2015.  We expect this prototype package to be identical to that which is offered to owners in 2015 (otherwise why do it?).   Pricing has yet to be announced.  Tesla also says this will not be the last of the upgrades available to owners in the future.

Our own off-the-cuff estimate would be that, given the limit amount of cars to potentially upgrade, Tesla doesn’t want to price the retrofit too exorbitantly but also doesn’t want to lose money either.  $25,000-$30,000 sounds about right to us.

Full Tesla Release on Roadster 3.0:

A Slightly New Look For The Roadster Aids In Reaching The Mythical 400 Mile Range Figure

A Slightly New Look For The Roadster Aids In Reaching The Mythical 400 Mile Range Figure

The Roadster 3.0 package applies what we’ve learned in Model S to Roadster. No new Model S battery pack or major range upgrade is expected in the near term.

Battery technology has continued a steady improvement in recent years, as has our experience in optimizing total vehicle efficiency through Model S development. We have long been excited to apply our learning back to our first vehicle, and are thrilled to do just that with the prototype Roadster 3.0 package. It consists of three main improvement areas.

1. Batteries
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. We have identified a new cell that has 31% more energy than the original Roadster cell. Using this new cell we have created a battery pack that delivers roughly 70kWh in the same package as the original battery.

2. Aerodynamics
The original Roadster had a drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.36. Using modern computational methods we 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 we will use on the Roadster 3.0 have a Crr of roughly 8.9 kg/ton, about a 20% improvement. We are also making improvements in the wheel bearings and residual brake drag that further reduce overall rolling resistance of the car.

Summary
Combining all of these improvements we can achieve a predicted 40-50% improvement on range between the original Roadster and Roadster 3.0. There is a set of speeds and driving conditions where we can confidently drive the Roadster 3.0 over 400 miles. We will be demonstrating this in the real world during a non-stop drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles in the early weeks of 2015.

We are confident that this will not be the last update the Roadster will receive in the many years to come.

Happy Holidays.

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45 responses to "Tesla Announces Roadster 3.0 Upgrade: 70 kWh Battery and New Aero Kit"

  1. offib says:

    A good oppertunity to increase power or change the motor. Probably the next update would deliver that.

    1. Anderlan says:

      I’ve heard it said that 3 seconds 0-60 is a sort of physical limit for cars with only 2 of the 4 wheels giving the power. In order to get below that, Tesla would have to add a motor to the other axle.

      1. Lustuccc says:

        With anti-gravity, the limit will be just slightly over the melting of our brain 😉

  2. mhpr262 says:

    400 real-world miles, that is pretty amazing. My very fuel-efficient (50mpg) gas car doesn’t go that far on one tank of gas.

    1. M Hovis says:

      I wonder where 400 miles fits into the range of the 200 odd light duty vehicles sold in the US? That would be an interesting number to know.

    2. My 2004 Prius greatest distance ran before the ‘get fuel’ light started flashing – was 700 Kms or ~437 miles; It totally was empty at some 770 Kms or ~480 miles. This – on a trip back to Toronto From Florida, in the Summer (August 20th or so, so – warm weather). Based on this – I would say they have done a lot to make the argument of range to fade away a bit further and – ‘Range Anxiety’ is being left with such cars as the Chevy Volt – with only about 38-40 miles Electric Range and just 330 miles range with Gas and Electric!

      It starts the Press Release off with “The Roadster 3.0 package applies what we’ve learned in Model S to Roadster” – but does not add in that other bit of desired Kitch – Supercharger Access! Maybe that is going to be a further update – when they deliver the target price, and if any Service Center is able to do the upgrade on the car?

      Having this range, AND Supercharger Access – now makes 2-car families with the Roadster and the Model S – to be able to travel in pairs, from Supercharger to Supercharger – together! It also gives the Roadster now the option of making even faster Cross Country Trips than the Model S – due to the ability to skip some Supercharger stations on the way to the next one!

    3. Roy says:

      Not REAL WORLD miles
      only Tesla’s idea of miles which aren’t REAL.
      More like 280 if driven like you would drive an ICE and use all features.

  3. Anon says:

    Impressive. I don’t know of any other automaker that supports vehicles like this, long after they’ve been built and sold.

    Does the upgrade allow access to the superchargers or Model S EVSEs?

    1. James says:

      A huge Tesla supporter myself, I really like this as that is how it appears to the common observer.

      Noted though, is the fact Tesla can do this and create a small income stream alongside Model S while Model X still remains in development. While one way to look at these developments is that Tesla unbelievably supports their product even after it’s long been sold – a bit more realistic view is that Tesla can do R&D for a future Roadster in this unique way, while not being able to afford design and development costs for a future Roadster from scratch which Tesla claims is afar off, possibly 2020-21. Tesla cannot reload Roadster and add a production line in Fremont in one of it’s vast open areas of factory square footage, due to the sheer costs a completely new platform would entail.

      Remember, supposedly Lotus notifies Tesla that the current Lotus Elise chassis production would no longer be end, so that ended Roadster production in a hurry when Tesla’s contract for 2,500 gliders was filled. Now, it seems Lotus’ plans for a
      3rd generation Elise have been cancelled and current-gen Elise production continues to present.

      Another factor contributing to the Roadster’s demise was Tesla’s federal exemption to build cars without 2-stage passenger airbags expired in 2011. It seems possible, as Detroit Electric plans on using Elise gliders for it’s new EV sports car, that Tesla could re-introduce a gen2 Roadster based again on that same platform but with all the improvements revealed in today’s article along with appearance tweaks.

      By the way. My vote is for Mr. Musk to buy the rights to build a BEV version of the gen3 Elise concept that it seems, will never see the light of production day. Have you seen this beautiful car? It is precisely what I imagined a next-gen Tesla Roadster would look like.


      http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-XACGEpdr_0U/T9HnWUzbeNI/AAAAAAAAO2c/GhkaXgAbZa4/s1600/2010-lotus_elise_concept_2.jpg

      http://www.motortrend.com/future/future_vehicles/1107_the_future_of_lotus/photo_10.html

      1. Lustuccc says:

        IMHO Tesla will do a better overall job. I noticed that Musk has a tendency to do it all by himself to get it according to his vision.

        1. Anon says:

          Agreed. I don’t believe for a moment the Elon would want to waste time and resources to retrofit an Elise design again. They would build their own BEV platform from scratch, like they did with Model S. That would move the newest gigafactory cells between the wheels for better handling and capacity, allow much more cargo space along with more than one motor.

          I can’t imagine what an AWD Tesla Roadster 4.0 would be capable of…

          Take the fancy brakes / high performance parts off and reduce motor size, slap a city chasis on top, and reuse the same BEV skateboard for a range of smaller city sized vehicles (convertible coups, hatchbacks, micro-wagons, mini-SUVs, etc.). Product diversification would pay for the new Roadster. Easily.

  4. Boris says:

    Actually, a bit of a dissapointment for me. No supercharging, no increase in power, plus I doubt you can do LA to SF at freeway speeds with only a 70 kwh battery.

    1. Considering they did not mention that other point of interest – Supercharging Access – I suspect the trip won’t be at 70 – 75 mph, but rather at 50 – 55 mph to get the range, but when you think about it – they never mentioned it would do the trip in record speed, either.

      However – slowing down a bit to improve range also works in Gas powered cars, as has been proven, and since this is not a 2000 mile trip, driving slower – to make the trip in one charge – saves a stop to charge – even if it was at a supercharger!

      That makes it potentially viable as a single charge trip. What yet remains to hear about – is of course – if it will – in fact – have access to the supercharger with this upgrade; and – what the charging times and rates will be, as no mention of battery charging capability was mentioned.

      1. Note there are now ~125 Tesla HPWC (High-power Wall Chargers) in California offering 80A 240V (~18 kW). Across the US there are ~500 publicly accessible HPWC, with another ~250 private locations. While not quite Superchargers, adding ~60 MPH for any stop means 600-800 miles per day is possible without much effort.

        Range is getting to point where comfort of the seats could be higher priority to faster charging.

        1. phr3d says:

          well said..

  5. Brian says:

    53 kWk usable battery is a x1.31 improvement or ~70 kWh
    244 miles range with x1.31 improvement is ~320 miles.

    This means Cd, wheels, etc. will provide an ~1.25x (400/320) efficiency increase.

    Applying aero, wheel, etc. mods without the battery upgrade should provide ~305 miles (244*1.25) if battery stills has 100% of original capacity. Should the Roadster battery only have 80% of new (~42 kWh, 195 miles usable), applying the other upgrades would restore original 244 mile range (1.25x 195 miles). Interesting …

    The big question is price … battery upgrade, vs other upgrades, or both. What will owner choose considering most Roadsters are 3-7 years old? Also will owners of 1.0, 1.5, 2.0 consider other mods to upgrade seats, etc to those found in 2.5 Roadster edition?

    FYI: Tesla’s monthly vehicle production will soon exceed the total 2500 Roadsters produced. Something to consider in determining pricing and the length of time Tesla will offer the upgrades.

  6. MrEnergyCzar says:

    The 40% battery improvement in 6 years follows the 7% per year battery improvement…. Not at computer chip speed but significant enough….

    1. ffbj says:

      Pretty cool. I think you are referring to Moore’s Law, which should more accurately should be called Moore’s Suggestion.

    2. ggpa says:

      The press release states 31%, not 40%

      And 31% over 7 years is just over 4.5%.

      I expected this to be higher.

      There is a lot of talk that EV range will double in the next 2 or 3 years. Is that hype or is it going to happen?

      1. JP says:

        There are more energy dense cells available than what Tesla is using in this upgrade. Cost may be an issue, or supply. In any case don’t look at this pack upgrade as an indication of how fast battery density is improving.

  7. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

    They announced a demo some time in 2015. Not announced any upgrade, or any timeline for it.

    1. Bonaire says:

      Moving from demo to alpha stage before determining prices or showing examples. Good for lots of free advertising in the press and a $5 stock price hike. Keep them coming, this is how success is made. Did tesla recently hire someone from EEStore?

  8. The Roadster used 2200ma cells, and every car after it used bigger cells:

    2200ma – Tesla Roadster
    2600ma – Daimler Smart EV (Tesla battery)
    2900ma – Daimler Mercedes B-Class ED (Tesla battery)
    2900ma – Toyota RAV4 EV (Tesla battery)
    3100-3400ma – Tesla Model S

    Well, I just learned that the new capacity is 70kWh. That’s a bit disappointing since that means 2900ms cells, and not the Model S cells:

    70 / 54 = 130%

    2900 / 2200 = 130%

    It entirely probably that the new Model X will be 4000ma.

    I did fully expect that for a few thousand dollars, the Roadster will be converted to a Model S inlet and be offered Supercharger access.

    1. Just to follow up, the Model 3 will not use the same 18650 cell format, but instead will physically be 10% larger.

      1. Bill Howland says:

        Tony I was told
        1). Supercharger: NO
        2). Model S charge port: YES

        Rationale is to rid the need for the Roadster $1500 Universal Mobile Connector which has been an ongoing mtc problem on all versions. This will elminate the need for it since standard model S cords will provide 40 amps of charging.

        THe old one was not a money maker for Tesla and a money-loser for any Owners who had the unfortunate luck to go the UMC route.

        Fortunately, I never purchased it since I felt its price was too high.

        1. That is unbelievably short sighted. We could offer our JdeMO for the Roadster.

          I’m reasonably confident we could find enough interested parties to make a kit worthwhile.

          It works fantastic on the RAV4 EV with 2900mah cells. Plus, we are very well versed in Tesla CAN bus control.

          About $2000 plus install for CHAdeMO stations anywhere in the world.

        2. phr3d says:

          I was awaiting your response, Bill.. look forward to your updates as well – Happy New Year!

          1. Bill Howland says:

            Thanks and happy new year to you and yours.

            I think they’ve finally gotten most of the bugs out so now is probably the ‘safest’ time to pick up a used roadster. Tesla, to their credit, did fix the problems, plus many of the actual service people ‘felt my pain’ and, since i’d buy them lunch and would help them with tools, or be a spare pair of arms and legs, they were willing to go beyond the assistance you’d expect at a service shop. I got a ‘free’ $12,000 inverter when I would have thought they wouldn’t have bothered fixing the trivial problem I had with the former one. It got replaced because the service center broke a connector and it had to be superglued back together in the interim.

            The particular LRR I got for the front tires unfortunately made the car noisy, and its totally the fault of the particular tire, and not really an issue with the car itself.

            AS far as updates are concerned, I’m not sure what would be of interest to you unless you tell me, – my battery is down from 53 kwh to around 50 kwh (over 40,000 miles so its expected), but I can go the rated distance due to the LRR tires.

        3. Smeghead says:

          “Tony I was told
          1). Supercharger: NO
          2). Model S charge port: YES”

          Any particular reason given as to why you wouldn’t be able to buy into the Supercharger network if they’re going to be making the Model S charging port available?

          1. Bill Howland says:

            Any answer I’d give would be a guess.

            I only stated the reason why it was done:

            The $1,500 Roadster UMC (all versions), like the Mobile Connector before it, never fully worked, and burned out after a few months.

            They were hand made by a company who apparently never robustified the design.. You would have thought they’d decrease the current to 32 amps, or change the control transformer if it was a current, or voltage, issue, respectively; I admit I don’t have the particulars other than all those products just didn’t work right.

            The Model S UMC is around $500, so if those things burn out it will be much cheaper for the customer to replace. Or they can completely eliminate the issue by using the ‘high power wall connector’ recently lowered in price by tesla.

            Or Roadster owners can avoid the issue entirely, by never using the UMC’s at all, which is what I do. I charge using a j1772 converter cable and a store bought 30 amp evse.

    2. alohart says:

      Am I correct that you meant “mah” (capacity) rather than “ma” (current)?

      1. Josh says:

        Yep and I copied the mistake

        1. Sorry, I typed “ma” once and the rest was cut-and-paste mistakes.

    3. Josh says:

      I am surprised too. I was expecting the 4000 ma cells to get demoed in th Roadster before X production. Is their a big weight penalty they are trying to avoid?

      Also, could they be running 4000 ma cells but using 3/4 the number of cells?

      1. phr3d says:

        or GM’ing them.. nice little freebie in Roadster 3.28, “even more power” now that we are certain that the cells are happy in their new box.

    4. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

      I suspect the capacity is limited by trying safely and cheaply to fit the Roadster’s older systems. They wouldn’t want to spend a lot of engineering time, so they’ll not be at the bleeding edge.

      Let’s see how the demo goes.

    5. JP says:

      Tony,

      Martin Eberhard said the Roadster used 2.4 ah cells, though they originally planned to use 2.2 ah cells.

      1. Interesting. That’s the first that I’ve heard that.

        I guess it is possible, then, that it is 3100 cells.

        One thought that I just had was that they couldn’t put 4000mah in the Roadster, because it would have a longer range than the next Model S, which is supposed to be “500 miles”.

        4000 / 3100 = 129%

        129% * 300 miles = less than 400 miles.

        Using the 300 mile metric for the current Model S, then 4000 / 3100 =

    6. Mike says:

      I”m hoping they’re using the 3100ma cells, just fewer of them, that would give a weight Decrease.

  9. Bill Howland says:

    You’d think the person who posted that I didn’t know what I was talking about that, no way would an 87 kwh battery provide anywhere near 400 mile range, would appologize for that statement, when,

    Tesla, is not offering an 87 kwh battery, which I had suggested, but merely a 70 kwh one and they are claiming this will go 400 miles, (with other improvements).

    I’ve done one of the improvements already on my ROadster, by substituting LRR tires for the ‘recommended ones’ on all 4 wheels.

    1. phr3d says:

      First I’ve read of this, Bill, so apologies if you’ve already posted:
      What mileage gains did you experience from the tire swap?
      (smarter half and I have already shopped a Tesla Roadster ‘loaner’ at discount but shyed away based upon your painful experience(s).)

  10. Priusmaniac says:

    For the next roadster they could start from the Lotus Esprit esthetic’s instead of the Elise. It is more beautiful and Elon has now one standing at Tesla in the form of the submersible Bond car.
    On performance side it could get close to 2 seconds with AWD along of course supercharge and a 100 KWh battery to be able to do LA SF at high speed whatever that may be.

    1. Mike says:

      They build their own frames now.

  11. Bill Howland says:

    I have no idea what Detroit Electric is doing, but they are converting the EVORA, which is the only model legally sold in the states.

    I would gather Tesla is doing it on their own, but if they decide to stick with Lotus, then it pretty much has to be the EVORA (Much more upscale than the old roadster elise), unless there is an exclusivity contract with Detroit Electric.

    General Wish to all automakers:

    Please don’t worry too much about side issues, but since it seems easy these days to put a modern 90 kwh battery in the roadster (same weight), then please do it. Charging is an irrelevancy to me since anything at least 30 amps is as much public charging as I can find ‘in the wild’ around here anyway, and the existing setup goes at 70. But I wouldn’t be disappointed if the ‘new roadster’ only charged at 30 as long as it had a decent battery size.

    Tesla with the ‘s’ has been pretty good, but you’d think the ‘x’ would have at least some owners wanting a 110 kwh battery sooner rather than later.

  12. David says:

    We are now half way through 2015.
    Has the 3.0 update stalled? Haven’t really heard any news/updates about it since the announcement. I don’t currently own a roadster, but have been itching to buy a used one and the one thing stopping me from pulling the trigger is more information on 3.0
    I would really love to know if supercharger charging will be possible with the new battery setup…
    Elon why not show the Tesla Roadster owners some love? They helped prove your EV concept and paved the way to model S. Don’t leave them behind in mediocre obsolescence.