A few months ago, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk said something a bit cryptic during the company's annual shareholder meeting: Tesla was working on "a fairly exciting upgrade to the Roadster." Mysterious, no? Well, speaking with Auto Express recently, Musk revealed what this upgrade will be: an improved battery pack.

"The Roadster had an old generation battery," Musk told Auto Express." We'll upgrade it to a new generation battery pack and it should have a range of about 400 miles, which will allow you to drive from LA to San Francisco non-stop." The Roadster originally came with a 245-mile range, which is good for Los Angeles to Madera, CA. Tesla sold the Roadster, its first car, in the US from 2008 to 2011 and elsewhere until 2012.

It's not that the old Roadster batteries were failing regularly – quite the opposite, in fact – but li-ion EV technology advances rapidly, and so now we're extra curious what's in the new pack and how it will work. Will it be compatible with Tesla's Supercharger technology? How much will it cost, both for Roadster owners as well as for Tesla?

We've asked Tesla for answers to these questions, but all a spokeswoman would say is, "We have no further details at this time." At the shareholder meeting in early June, Musk said the "exciting upgrade" would happen this year, so if he was talking about the battery upgrade at that time, we should be getting more information on the new packs right soon.


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  • 61 Comments
      jebibudala
      • 7 Months Ago
      badass
      paulwesterberg
      • 7 Months Ago
      I wonder if they will also offer a 400 mile battery pack for the Model S in a 4-6 years. Although I doubt there are many roadster owners that need to replace their battery improving the capacity and utility of existing vehicles is a great way to maintain resale value and keep these cars on the road.
        Spec
        • 7 Months Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        A really nice thing about the Tesla design is the easy of battery replacement. Even if they never bother to build a battery swapping station, they can easily swap in remanufactured or new batteries into the Model S so they can quickly replace defective batteries, add in higher capacity batteries, or replace old batteries with significant storage capacity reductions.
      danfred311
      • 7 Months Ago
      I hope this puts that bs 500km solar car world record in context. When I say it's easy to make a 1200km range EV for records, it's because it is. 1500 is even quite doable. Maybe 2000 with some disciplined engineering. With current commercially available battery technology.
      2 wheeled menace
      • 7 Months Ago
      I bet they're using panasonic's new ~3400mah cell in this car. That's an excellent choice. The power that the car can output will likely be the same, but not having to recharge so often, and having such long cycles means that the battery will last a LONG time. If the battery only gets 300 cycles ( a total worst case scenario ), you can expect to get 400 x 300 = 120,000 miles out of it. If the battery gets 600 cycles, you can get 240,000 miles out of it. I haven't seen any full cell tests, but my best guess for this battery is 500-800 cycles. So yeah, pretty badass..
        jimmy_james44
        • 7 Months Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        Panasonic's 3400mah may be the basis of the Tesla battery, but, Tesla does some design of it's own as well. I doubt that it's exactly like the 3400mah.
      RC
      • 7 Months Ago
      This is pretty cool of Tesla. It goes to show that innovation is not a product but a culture.
      bluepongo1
      • 7 Months Ago
      My mythical beach house in the mountains is 420 miles away, bed-wetters with range-anxiety, it can't tow a boat and go 200mph, & hybrids / hydrogen are obsolete but sockpuppets need to keep working !! WAAAHHH !! (9_9)
      Knipfty
      • 7 Months Ago
      This is an interesting feature of BEVs. And it will likely extend the life of the auto by years. The big question then is can the car reasonable go 20 years with just a battery upgrade? What else will need t be replaced during that time beyond consumables? People look at the Nissan Leaf and complain about the battery replacement costs, but another way to look at it, is a way to extend the life of the vehicle. In the long run, one could save a lot of money.
      RomanM
      • 7 Months Ago
      Model S, looks and seems like a much better car.
        Spec
        • 7 Months Ago
        @RomanM
        Yes . . . they learned a lot from the Roadster and applied that knowledge to the Model S. And I presume they've learned from the Roadster and Model S that they will apply to the Model X (and the Model 3 eventually).
        Grendal
        • 7 Months Ago
        @RomanM
        In many ways it is. Tesla had years to learn and make improvements besides the battery tech. The other advantage that the Model S has is that it was designed from the ground up to be what it is, an EV. The Roadster was a heavily modified gas car. Like any other rare car it has a solid following.
      Koenigsegg
      • 7 Months Ago
      It will not be supercharger compatible. Roadster is old technology that converts DC to AC and they cannot fix that in all the cars. Model S coverts AC to DC.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Koenigsegg
        Model S converts DC to AC as well, technically. Both cars convert AC to DC for charging. Both processes incur a couple % loss. Beats an internal combustion engine though, where you waste on average, 65% of the energy you put into the engine!
        ElectricAvenue
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Koenigsegg
        What on earth are you talking about? Both cars have onboard chargers (plug into AC, convert to DC to charge batteries). The Model S also has the ability to plug into a DC source (Superchargers). It's possible that a replacement of the battery pack in the Roadster would include the standard Model S connector and ability to plug into Superchargers. I can't see why they wouldn't do that; the new battery pack could essentially just be a different shaped package with the same cells as used in the Model S pack. But as this non-story points out, we simply don't know what Tesla will eventually do.
          2 wheeled menace
          • 7 Months Ago
          @ElectricAvenue
          The roadster charging is not fixed or set in any particular way. They can change the charger out, you know. We're talking about changing one part.
          itsme38269
          • 7 Months Ago
          @ElectricAvenue
          Elon has said multiple times that it's not possible. The Roadster uses a different charging paradigm. It would require a huge reengineering of the car's power supply, and wouldn't make any sense. Replacing the battery just involves swapping out old cells for new ones and maybe updating the firmware. I would rather they replace old cells with half as many new ones, so the car could be lighter, of course. And the battery would be cheaper too.
        Spec
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Koenigsegg
        What? All batteries are DC, period. Motors may be AC or DC but I believe Tesla has always used AC motors.
          Grendal
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Spec
          Right. That allows them to avoid the whole "rare earth" issue.
        Marek koenig
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Koenigsegg
        Should be possible, it all depends on if the battery pack can accept that much current while charging. The Model S ignores the onboard charger when Supercharging.
        bluepongo1
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Koenigsegg
        Don't believe everything you read on the internet, DC battery power goes to an inverter to power an AC motor in all Tesla vehicles
      John Hansen
      • 7 Months Ago
      At first it seems to not make sense financially to do this. There were only a relative handful of Roasters ever built. Why spend precious R&D resources on that? But... it's worth it because it gives everybody who is thinking about buying a Model S the confidence that Tesla will support their cars long term, and maybe even offer upgrades. Maybe somebody is on the fence about the 265 mile range, but now they see that Tesla is offering upgrades for their oldest cars, so maybe they'll do the same for the Model S in five years. Suddenly it's entirely palatable. Nice move Tesla!
        danfred311
        • 7 Months Ago
        @John Hansen
        Elon doesn't necessarily do things because they make sense. He pushes. Often he doesn't know what he is doing but he pushes :)
      mauro
      • 7 Months Ago
      I'd like to see a Model R like the fake pictures circulating online
      Dave D
      • 7 Months Ago
      Could I keep the 200 mile range and just have a lighter battery/car? :-) Not complaining, as this is a cool option but I would LOVE to see white a lighter, more nimble roadster could do.
        Marek koenig
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Dave D
        Probably not, they will likely only create a single battery pack.
          Dave D
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Marek koenig
          I assumed the same thing. But as long as Santa Elon was taking requests...I thought it was worth a shot LOL
        Spec
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Dave D
        This. I'd like to see a 120 mile roadster that costs $40K or so.
          Grendal
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Spec
          I'm really hoping the Model R new Roadster is a Porsche 911 competitor. Since it will be on the Model III platform, it should have a minimum range of 200 miles on the smaller battery pack. $40K might be a little low. I'll bet a base model starts at $45K and goes up from there. They might not even make a smaller pack version to get the maximum out of the pack assuming that customers will be showing off a lot in the car.
          Johan
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Spec
          I have a rav4 that is about 120 miles. Trust me, it's not enough. I think you need about 220 for good Supercharger range. I agree with the sentiment about smaller battery and keeping it lighter. I think 250 is a good number.
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