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Click above for high-res image gallery of Jason's Tesla Roadster

One of the long-time keys to profitability in the car business is the up-sell. The extended warranties, under-coating, improved audio systems, wheels, pin-stripes and so on. It looks like Tesla Motors is no exception. The company has just sent out an update to owners and those on the waiting list outlining some of the new optional extras that are now available. There is the usual assortment of interior and exterior trim upgrades. There are also a couple of warranty options. One is a $5,000 extended warranty that covers everything but the battery for an extra two years or 24,000 miles. Considering that the mechanical simplicity of electric drive systems is considered one of the big selling points of EVs, one might be surprised that the original warranty on a Roadster is only two years to begin with. An extra two years of coverage for five grand seems rather steep.

The other surprise is a pre-paid battery replacement deal. The current cost of replacing the Roadster battery pack is $30,000! That may be the first time that Tesla has publicly acknowledged the replacement cost of the battery. Owners can now pre-pay for a replacement battery pack at a cost of only $12,000. Tesla has previously said the Roadster pack should last five years, but is now quoting seven years. It's not clear what kind of condition they expect the battery to be in after seven years. Considering these are laptop cobalt oxide cells and the pack is being cycled through most of its range, odds are it won't be anywhere near full capacity. If the batteries need replacement before the cost can be driven down, this deal could end up costing Tesla a lot of money.

  • No. 2 - Tesla Roadsters are in production, albeit in small numbers still, and the company is still with us (for now at least). We've driven it and it's a wonderful sports car - even disregarding the powertrain. Factor in that electric drive and it's amazing. Unfortunately, recent financial issues have threatened the company's future. The investors seem committed to making Tesla survival so far.


Photos copyright ©2008 Drew Phillips, Sam Abuelsamid, Sebastian Blanco / Weblogs, Inc.

[Source: Jason Calacanis]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 11 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      Naysayers like PeterG have previously claimed that the price for replacement batteries in EVs has never fallen below $1,000 per kW. Well, since the Roadster has a 53 kW pack, and we now know that it currently costs $30,000 to replace it, that calculates to... $566 per kW. Would you like some ketchup to help wash down that crow, Peter?

      I hope that Tesla's projection is correct, and that in seven years replacement batteries will cost less than $227 per kW. If so, an i-MiEV's 16 kW pack would cost $3,632 to replace. Its 20 kW pack $4,540. Sounds good to me!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Sorry missed this one for a while. I am not a BEV naysayer, I am a naysayer of those who pretend current economics are better than ICE. They aren't.

        I think it is obvious that I didn't mean that there would never be a sub $1K/KWh pack, just that so far none had been revealed.

        If anyone broke that mark, I expected it to be Tesla as they are using the cheapest commodity batteries on the market. I am really not a fan of Teslas batteries because of this. These kind of cells tend to have significant time based degredation. They go bad over a few years even if they aren't used.

        I still expect that the more advanced batteries used by GM in the Volt or others using A123 cells are greater than $1K/KWh.

        Electric cars have been Viable for over a 100 years. It has always been the batteries that have held them back and it is still is IMO.

        But with all the R&D aimed at batteries and new chemistries and techniques, I am optimistic that in maybe 5 years (definitely in 10), we will total cost of ownwership of BEVs be lower than ICE.

      • 6 Years Ago
      Well, I've owned my current car for over 20 years... so let's do some personal calculations. Four battery replacements @ $30k = $120k. That's on top of this $109k car. Though I'd have to add the $8k out-of-service-area fee. And of course the $7k in taxes on a new car. Anyway then there's my home energy bill of course, charging the car every night for a few hours for 20 years. And naturally that energy comes from coal where I live. So I guess if I have $250,000 or so lying around, I can have this nice two-seater for 20 years just like my current Honda Accord. Think of the gas money I'll save!

      So this is really the future, all you hydrogen bashers? Unlike that "expensive" and "unrealistic" 5-seat Honda FCX Clarity quietly driving the streets...
        • 1 Month Ago
        It's meant to replace the fond afternoons you have enjoyed in your Ferrari. Though if you spend 31K on an Accord Crosstour next year to replace the current Accord you may be a little miffed over the next 20 years to discover that you could have had a Nissan Leaf for 24K after tax credits and spent 32,000 less on electricity than gas.
      harlanx6
      • 6 Years Ago
      Tesla is betting that tech advancement will result in better, cheaper batteries by the time these need replacement. It looks like a pretty good bet.
        ammca66564
        • 6 Years Ago
        @harlanx6
        No, Tesla's betting that people are willing to trust them with their money for years.

        You really think Tesla's going to be around in 5 years? Possible, but dicey. They just NEED to get your money now. Five years down the road? They'll deal with that then. This is about now.
        harlanx6
        • 6 Years Ago
        @harlanx6
        AMcA you make a good point. There may not be enough rich people that think they need a 120k short range toy to give the impression to their friends that they care about the environment. I just thought they might be legit, but time will tell. I do think it's a good bet that batteries will be much improved and the cost will come down in the next few years.
      • 6 Years Ago
      If Tesla was smart, they designed the pack so they could replace it with a pack with much more durable, cheaper, big ass car cells in 5 years. At the rate that battery makers are scaling right now for vehicle cells - this would be a smart move on Tesla's part - if they did it. If they're just betting laptop cells will be cheaper...that would be sad.

      Also, this should be a clue to the rest of us for some expected cost drops in vehicle EV packs over the next half a decade....awesome.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Tesla Motors used 18650 cells because at that time those small cells offered the highest energy density and the lowest cost per Kwh stored. They realize that isn't the best that could be, once larger format cells and/or improved battery chemistry get into mass production, energy density could increase and prices drop. For that reason, they are keeping an eye on battery development. The control systems on their cars are programmable, so adapting a new type of battery would be relatively easy.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Wish Tesla all the best and all that but...

      I think it's best to view this as business news and not a technology forecast.

      From Calacanis' post:

      Elon: "The price of this replacement is $12,000 and is available to all Tesla customers, including those that have already taken delivery of their car."

      So I'm paying $30K for a battery or $42K for 2 ($21K each). A 30% discount. Not bad.

      And, good for Tesla, because Tesla won't actually have to build a replacement battery for years. Or ever, because how many people are going to use their roadster as a daily driver and start racking up the miles.

      Plus, more sales in the books, means you have a better chance of getting another round of VC funding or gov't grants. That is, "See we're a going concern. You're money is safe with us."
        • 6 Years Ago
        Ooops...

        "...your money is safe with us."

        But maybe not my grammar.

        = )