Tesla Rewrites History with the Roadster 3.0 Package

Written By: Brittney B.

Edited By: Assen Gueorguiev

Tesla Roadster

On Christmas Day in 2014, Tesla CEO Elon Musk gave his earliest customers a surprising gift when he announced an upgrade package for Tesla's very first production model. The Tesla Roadster is no longer in production, but Musk has teased a revival for years, and it turns out they won't be manufacturing any new cars to accomplish that. Instead, they'll release the Tesla Roadster 3.0 package, which current Roadster owners can purchase to drastically improve their original cars.

Putting Production Rumors to Rest

By announcing this update at the end of 2014, Musk kept a promise he made six months earlier and put years' worth of conflicting rumors to rest. In June, he told an investor that Tesla would "do something cool" with the Roadster later that year, and most assumed it would mean a new model year. By August, a German publication had spread "insider" rumors that confirmed the Roadster would be revived as an entirely new model, the Tesla Model R, and could arrive as early as 2017.

That's not what happened, though. Instead, Tesla decided to improve existing Roadsters with a package that incorporates all their latest innovations. With the Roadster 3.0, drivers will be able to replace the world's first lithium-ion battery with a new battery pack that has 31 percent more energy than the original, yet fits in the same exact package.

In addition to the new 70 kwH battery, the package will include a set of tires with better wheel bearings, brake drag, and rolling resistance. While the first Roadster's tires had a rolling resistance coefficient of 11.0 kg/ton, upgraded Roadsters will enjoy 8.9 kg/ton. The drag coefficient will change too; a retrofitted aerodynamics kit will reduce drag by 15 percent.

In finding a way to correct and perfect their very first production efforts, Tesla is simultaneously rewarding their earliest supporters and increasing their own sustainability. Instead of letting the Roadster stay outdated and producing newer models with far better performance and range, Tesla is offering the best of both worlds: an opportunity for drivers to enjoy all the perks of recent innovations without incurring the costs or environmental impact of a brand new vehicle.

Tesla Roadster Exterior/Interior (Click on Images to Enlarge)

Looking Backward and Forward at the Same Time

The forward-thinking automaker is known for anticipating future needs and creating futuristic innovations, not looking in the rearview mirror and tweaking past efforts. However, Tesla never takes the conventional or expected approach to designing, manufacturing, or even promoting their vehicles. As the first and only automaker to focus exclusively on electric vehicles — and one of the only companies, across all industries, to put progress over profits — Tesla already follows their own unique business model, and this announcement is just another part of that model's evolution.

So far, it's working. While Tesla still hasn't produced any consumer-class electric vehicles, each new release is more affordable and efficient than the last, and their mass-production goal is finally within reach. However, this is the first time they've revisited a model they no longer produce, and they couldn't have gone any farther back in time to do it.

Rewriting the Roadster's Legacy

For Tesla, it all began with a Roadster — specifically, the 2008 Tesla Roadster. The automaker's first production car was also the world's first fully electric vehicle to travel over 200 miles on 1 charge, and it marked the automotive debut of lithium-ion battery cells. The original Roadster got upgrades for the 2010 and 2011 model years, but Tesla moved onto new models afterwards.

The Model S arrived in 2012 and is now available with four different drive configurations, and drivers can already reserve the upcoming Model X. Tesla clearly isn't writing off the possibility of launching completely new cars in the future. The Model III is already in development, and additional models are expected within the next five to ten years.

However, the Roadster 3.0 package suggests that they won't simply march forward forever. They'll also be paying attention to every Tesla model that's still on the road, and looking for sustainable ways to improve those earlier releases. There was even a promise at the end of the holiday press release, predicting that the package would "not be the last update the Roadster receives in the years to come".

Will most Roadster drivers embrace this new package, or are the updates too minor to matter? After Tesla tests and tweaks the package, do you think they'll add anything else, or will it still consist of new tires, a battery pack, and a retrofit kit?