Gadgets

Silicon Valley rich dudes rejoice: Tesla Roadsters getting replacement, 400-mile batteries

Above: The Tesla Roadster Sport out in the sunny California countryside on January 19th, 2011. Photo by Joe Nuxoll.

Retrofitting new powertrains to used cars isn’t something that automakers have done, historically–but electric cars may change that rule.

Now, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk has suggested that the Silicon Valley electric-car maker will offer a replacement battery for the 2008-2012 Tesla Roadsters that were its first production cars.

Musk’s announcement came in a mid-July interview with the British magazine Auto Express, in which Musk largely reiterated what is known about the company’s upcoming Model III.

At the end of the piece, though, was a kicker: Tesla plans to offer a battery upgrade that will not only give the car a fresh battery, but use newer-generation cells and other technology to provide a significant range boost.

Related: Tesla extends warranty on Model S — because electric cars are ‘fundamentally more reliable’

The Roadster, sold from 2008 through 2011 in North America (and through 2012 in other markets) had an electric range rated at 245 miles by the U.S. EPA.

The new battery, Musk said, “should have a range of about 400 miles”–quite a substantial upgrade.

Musk didn’t offer prices, schedules, or any other information.

But his comment is just another indication that the advent of mass-produced electric cars is upending all sorts of assumptions about the ways the auto industry has historically worked.

Don’t miss: Tesla’s Next Electric Car Line: Roundup Of What We Know Now

In June, Nissan announced that not only would it offer replacement Nissan Leaf battery packs for a mere $5,500–and that the new packs would use the latest battery chemistry.

The relative simplicity of battery-electric vehicles may make engineering such upgrades and retrofits easier than in vehicles with gasoline or diesel combustion engines and multi-speed automatic transmissions.

Their complete running gear comprises a battery pack, an electric motor, and the associated power electronics and software.

Since packs must be designed to be removable, a swap should–in theory–comprise no more than engineering a new and more powerful battery to occupy the same form factor and connect electric cables and sensors (plus any liquid cooling inlets and outlets) in the same place.

Only 2,500 Tesla Roadsters were built, based on some underpinnings also used in the Lotus Elise sports car.

Which should, if nothing else, limit the number of cells required to upgrade them–meaning there’ll be relatively little impact on the cell volumes destined to emerge from Tesla’s much-discussed battery gigafactory.

But that’s another story altogether.

This story originally appeared on www.greencarreports.com.

More information:

Tesla's goal is to accelerate the world's transition to electric mobility with a full range of increasingly affordable electric cars. Palo Alto, California-based Tesla designs and manufactures EVs and EV powertrain components. Tesla ha... read more »

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16 comments
Scott Gordon
Scott Gordon

"Only 2,500 Tesla Roadsters were built, based on some underpinnings also used in the Lotus Elise sports car." Wow. Just wow. So wrong.

Steven Prediletto
Steven Prediletto

I've owned Roadster #1172 since June, 2011. It's my daily driver and I feel very lucky to have the good fortune to own one and support Tesla's vision of a hydrocarbon-free world.

John Otterstedt
John Otterstedt

Many thanks to Elon for pushing the envelope. The world needs more people like him.

John Morelli
John Morelli

'Lucky' is not the word most people would use to describe people who paid for a tesla.

Chris Wiegman
Chris Wiegman

Boosting range from 250 to 400 miles is a NICE 60% improvement.

Peter Rozee
Peter Rozee

Doesn't recycling batteries use loads of energy? One assumes thats whats going to happen to them. Whilst, quiet and apparently green, aren't electric cars actually quite an energy drain if you take the period of time from manufacture, then usage through to disposal? When plugging in your electric car for a recharge, the energy to charge it up still has to come from somewhere, which in the US is mainly fossil fuel powered energy generation. Anyway, I'm learning every day about this...and the Tesla Roadster is a great looking car :)

Bryan Harris
Bryan Harris

400 mile range is quite an improvement.  Now how about 15 min recharge time, and a sub $30k USD price tag and you've got something that will sell like Mazda Miatas in the early 90s!

Ash Krikorian
Ash Krikorian

lol, considering how long traditional cars with combustion engines have been on the market with limited progression in efficiency all of these years - vs how long tesla has been on the market and how quickly it is progressing... they compete just fine. 

all they need to do right now is increase their sales volume so that pricing becomes more affordable. then they can worry about faster charging


For the avg consumer can you honestly tell me driving from seattle to san diego is a worry?


Edg1chopper Fierro
Edg1chopper Fierro

Well that's nice. Probably makes a difference to some. However, a normal Gasoline automobile can still go from Seattle to San Diego in less time than any Electric car on the market. The problem with long recharge times remains. For the initial vehicle cost and refuel/recharge times, Electric still cannot compete.

Michael Green
Michael Green

You are the worst tech news source known to Man.