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Published on December 26th, 2014 | by Zachary Shahan


Tesla Roadster Can Now Travel 400 Miles, Go From LA To San Fran Without Recharging

December 26th, 2014 by  

Elon Musk got on Twitter last night (or early this morning) to announced a Christmas present for Tesla Roadster owners. The Tesla sports car, with a new upgrade, can travel 400 miles without recharging. As Musk noted in the tweet, that’s enough to get from Los Angeles to San Francisco without taking a break to charge.

In a follow-up post published today on the Tesla Motors blog, Tesla explains that this is simply the result of sharing with the Roadster what the Model S battery has developed into. Tesla was also careful to point out that this is not the result of upgrades that will work their way up to the Model S, Model X, Model 3, etc. The first, summary line of the blog reads: “The Roadster 3.0 package applies what we’ve learned in Model S to Roadster. No new Model S battery pack or major range upgrade is expected in the near term.”

The battery in battery-electric vehicles is the essence of electric vehicles’ fall from grace early in the 20th century and its rise again this century. At the stage batteries were at for decades, electric cars simply couldn’t have long range and be affordable. That has quickly been changing, thanks especially to lithium-ion batteries. Tesla, since its first car (the Roadster) to today, has even seen (and helped to bring about) a massive improvement in the technology. The Roadster is just being brought up to today’s level of battery development.

However, Tesla is also improving the Roadster’s range and efficiency with aerodynamics and better tires. Here are the three key improvements summarized by Tesla:

1. Batteries
The original Roadster battery was the very first lithium ion battery put into production in any vehicle. It was state of the art in 2008, but cell technology has improved substantially since then. We have identified a new cell that has 31% more energy than the original Roadster cell. Using this new cell we have created a battery pack that delivers roughly 70kWh in the same package as the original battery.

2. Aerodynamics
The original Roadster had a drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.36. Using modern computational methods we expect to make a 15% improvement, dropping the total Cd down to 0.31 with a retrofit aero kit.

3. Rolling Resistance
The original Roadster tires have a rolling resistance coefficient (Crr) of 11.0 kg/ton. New tires that we will use on the Roadster 3.0 have a Crr of roughly 8.9 kg/ton, about a 20% improvement. We are also making improvements in the wheel bearings and residual brake drag that further reduce overall rolling resistance of the car.

Overall, this comes to a 40–50% improvement in range, Tesla writes. However, Roadster 3.0, as Tesla is calling it, won’t be the final frontier of the Roadster. It is confident it will be providing more updates to its first, breakthrough vehicle.


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About the Author

Zach is tryin’ to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he’s also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada.

Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don’t jump to conclusions.

  • You ain’t seen nothing yet. There is new technology coming that will double the energy density and increase power density (decrease charge time) by a factor of 30. That is not a typo – that means 1 hour would translate to 2 minutes for recharge. Plus there is a lot of research into commercializing carbon fiber materials for auto manufacturing to be on a par with steel. The trends are going in the right direction for affordable, long range and quick recharge EVs.’

  • Vensonata

    We are a jaded bunch. This is really important news and beautifully “tossed out” on Twitter. Casually, Elon Musk kills all range arguments about electric cars, and we seem to merely yawn here at Clean Technica amongst commenters. This is real ammunition in the argument for the elimination of the fossil fuel cars.

    • Bob_Wallace

      We are, somewhat. But mostly (I think) we’re anxious to see the first longer range EV for under $40k.

      A 400 mile Roadster is great, but most need more seats, don’t have deep enough pockets, and Tesla no longer makes the Roadster.

      I suppose we should pay attention to the fact that Tesla has offered a very significant upgrade for a car it no longer manufactures. This is not how manufacturing has operated in the past. Better performance/features were only offered on new purchases.

      • Vensonata

        Actually it says something, that we can afford to be picky about these revolutionary advances. “400 miles…that’s nice dear, now make it affordable please and by the way I’d like that in two years thanks!” Man, times have changed.

  • GlennM

    they have solved “range anxiety” now if their tech team could only work on “bladder anxiety” I could drive 400 miles without stopping.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Little John. Or an empty bottle….

    • Shiggity

      400 miles @ ~50mph
      Just drive 90mph+, problem solved.

      • Jouni Valkonen

        Indeed, speed limits for electric cars are redundant, because there is no need to conserve expensive and scarce fossil oil. Now we just need huge batteries in order to be able to cruise 100+ mph from Los Angeles to San Francisco.

        • sjc_1

          You would probably be stopped somewhere near Bakersfield to issue you the speeding ticket.

          The point is internal combustion engines run more efficiently closer to maximum output. Power required increases with speed due to air drag, so EV range goes down.

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