Tesla breathes new life into the Roadster

Published: 02 January 2015

With all the attention the Tesla Model S is understandably grabbing, it’s easy to forget about the Tesla Roadster, the Lotus-based battery-powered sports car first launched back in 2008.

Although Roadster production ended in 2012, Tesla aims to breathe new life into the car by offering an upgrade package for Roadster owners.

Called the Roadster 3.0 package, Tesla says it applies lessons learned in the development of the Model S to the Roadster.

Click here to read CAR’s original Tesla Roadster review

What does the Tesla Roadster 3.0 package involve?

Headline improvement concerns the car’s range. Originally the Roadster offered a 245-mile range, still a competitive figure by today’s electric vehicle standards. The Roadster 3.0 package is predicted to improved that figure by 40-50% to as much as 400 miles in certain driving conditions.

Lion’s share of the improvement comes courtesy of a new battery pack. Since battery cell technology has naturally moved on incrementally since 2008, new cells with 31% more energy than the original Roadster’s cells have been fitted, providing 70kWh from the same sized battery pack.

Tesla says the new battery pack will enable non-stop driving from LA to San Francisco, a statement that’s likely to proven in an upcoming publicity stunt in the coming weeks.

Any other upgrades beside the battery pack?

There’s also a retrofit bodykit to reduce aerodynamic drag. Tesla says it offers a theoretical 15% improvement, dropping the drag coefficient to  0.31 Cd.

New tyres are offered as part of the package too, with around 20% less rolling resistance than before. Tesla says freer running wheel bearings and alterations for reduced residual brake drag are likely to be part of the package too.

The package will be available in spring 2015 following safety validation of the new battery pack. Tesla promises further updates to the Roadster in the future.

What else is Tesla up to?

Robotic snakes, it seems. Company founder and CEO Elon Musk has tweeted that the company is working on a charger for the Model S ‘that automatically moves out from the wall and connects like a solid metal snake.’

Musk has talked of plans for an automatically connecting charging cable previously, suggesting at the launch of the dual-motor Model S D that in the future Teslas would not only be able to drive themselves in the future but charge themselves too.

Certainly sounds intriguing. We’ll keep you posted.

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By James Taylor

CAR's deputy features editor, occasional racer