Tesla’s Roadster rides again! New upgrades give the existing model a 400-mile range

Earlier this week, Tesla CEO tweeted that news of an update to the company’s debut vehicle, the all electric Roadster, was forthcoming. We had some fun speculating that the announcement could also be an opportunity for Musk to reveal plans of a next-gen Roadster, but that appeared to be merely wishful thinking.

What we did get, however, was the reveal of the Roadster 3.0 package. This brings a host of significant upgrades and improvements to the existing vehicle.

The biggest update is to the lithium-ion battery, which replaces the old 53 kilowatt-hour battery with a new 70 kWh unit that retains the same physical size. It’s a 31-percent improvement over the old pack, greatly improving the range of the vehicle, but that increase isn’t achieved solely by extra juice.

tesla roadster

A new aero kit can be retrofitted on existing roadsters, giving the car a 15-percent reduction in its drag coefficient, as well as tweaks to the wheels for a similar result. The tires used on the original roadster had a rolling resistance coefficient of 11.0 kg/ton, and the replacement ones will lessen that by 20 percent. Improvements to wheel bearings and residual brake drag chip further away at the car’s rolling resistance.

All of these combined mean that there’s a 50-percent increase in range over the previous 245 miles that the Roadster was limited to. What’s more, Tesla is confident that under the right conditions, it could get the two-seater to make a solid 400-mile trip. And that’s no empty claim: Tesla plans to demo the Roadster’s range in a couple weeks with a non-stop drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

Not only is this new upgrade package an excellent way to demo the improvements in technology that the electric car company has made since 2008, it’s a great “thank you” to the early adopters who got the Roadster. These are the folks that allowed Tesla to get to where they are now, and this available upgrade shows that the company hasn’t forgotten that.