Tesla Roadster 3.0 – Tesla isn’t done with its iconic Roadster. The company just took the wraps off the next generation of the sport car. Chief among the updates is a new 400 mile range, which will allow drives from San Francisco to Los Angeles on a single charge. Tesla notes that it expects a 40-50% improvement on driving range between the original Roadster and Tesla Roadster 3.0.
Tesla plans on demonstrating the Roadster 3.0 in the early weeks of 2015, but pricing and expected release date has yet to be released.
The range increase is thanks to a new cell technology that resulted in a battery that provides 70kWh in the same package as the original Roadster’s 53kWh pack. That’s an additional 31% of energy. In addition to the more power-packed battery, Tesla also shaved 15% off the Roadster’s drag coefficient and installed new tires that result in a 20% improvement on the car’s rolling resistance.
Elon Musk stated two days ago that the Model S will eventually see a similar battery update, but not anytime soon.
Strangely, the Tesla press release detailing the upgrades does not indicate if the Roadster 3.0 can recharge using the Supercharger network even though it’s highly likely. We’ve reached out to Tesla for clarification.
Clearly, Tesla is still operating as a lean startup by constantly improving existing products. The Roadster was the car that got Tesla off the line, yet it was hardly perfect; the Roadster was Tesla’s minimum viable product. Tesla kept at it and constantly rolled out updates to the vehicle through its production life. Now the company is ready to roll the sports car back out to the market with even more improvements likely discovered throughout the development of its new vehicles.
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 Tesla Roadster 3.0 package. It consists of three main improvement areas.
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.
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.
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.
Appointments for upgrading Roadsters will be taken this spring once the new battery pack finishes safety validation. We are confident that this will not be the last update the Roadster will receive in the many years to come.