Tesla is boosting its Roadster performance, here’s how

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The Tesla Roadster hasn’t been on sale since 2011. The $100,000 + vehicle was an early example of what Tesla’s electrical engineering was able to produce and it was a great proof of concept, but didn’t really have the range to be an everyday vehicle unless you were only using it to make little trips to the shops. And if that was the case, why were you spending $100,000? However the Roadster is now set to become that bit more useful, with an upgrade from the manufacturer aimed to give it a range of up to 400 miles.

This is impressive, as it makes the car competitive with conventional cars. Of course it can’t top up in five minutes like a petrol or diesel vehicle can, but it is significantly better than what it was capable of before. So how did Tesla manage to increase the range of the Roadster from its original 230 (or so) miles range to around 400.

As TechReview explains, part of it comes from a slight redesign of the vehicle’s aerodynamics, as well as its usage of tyres with less resistance (without sacrificing grip), but the big change comes from the overhauled battery pack. The new battery uses advanced storage cells, which can individually handle more than 31 per cent more energy. That, combined with the tweaks means a charge goes a lot further.

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Tesla is being quite coy about how the extra battery charge capacity was developed, but you can’t blame it for keeping some cards close to its chest, since it did just release a lot of its patents into the public domain to help see the growth of electric car sales around the world.

However, just because Tesla doesn’t lift up its skirts, it doesn’t mean we can’t take a guess as to what’s under there. It could be as simple as the housing for the batteries has been made smaller, thereby allowing for more electrical storage space inside the cells. It could also be possible that Tesla has reduced the amount of protective material around the Lithium, which could then be increased in volume itself, providing more power storage.

We will likely know more when these upgrade packs are made available to original Tesla owners beginning in Spring this year. It the car’s weight has changed, that will give us an indication of what changes Tesla might have made. Similarly it will be interesting to see if the extra power storage capacity means that it will take longer for the car to charge. While new Model S vehicles with dual chargers and an appropriate connection to the power grid, can be charged as fast as half an hour (if you didn’t drive too many miles), a full 400 miles charge in a Roadster, without the dual charge features of the modern vehicles, could take a good few hours at least.

Image source: Wikimedia

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Jon Martindale is an English author and journalist, who's written for a number of high-profile technology news outlets, covering everything from the latest hardware and software releases, to hacking scandals and online activism.