As CEO Elon Musk first announced yesterday, Tesla is detailing a new extended-range upgrade for its seminal Roadster — the Lotus-based two-door that preceded today's Model S sedan. It turns out that the upgrade is far more than a battery swap: yes, that's part of it, but a retrofit aerodynamics kit will improve the car's drag by some 15 percent, while new tires, wheel bearings, and changes to brake drag will decrease rolling resistance by 20 percent. In all, the upgrades are expected to yield a 40 to 50 percent improvement in range, breaking the 400-mile mark. The package is currently called a "prototype," but the company says that it'll demonstrate the improvements in early 2015 with a non-stop drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
Battery, aero kit, and reduced rolling resistance
As for the Roadster's batteries, the new cells pack 31 percent more energy into the same size package, showing just how dramatically battery tech has improved since the Roadster was in dealerships in the late aughts. It's not an all-new Roadster — Tesla has other priorities right now like the Model X and Model 3 — but it helps bring Tesla's first car into the modern EV age.
No details yet on timing or pricing, but Tesla says that it is "confident that this will not be the last update the Roadster will receive in the many years to come."