Car nerds, you just got an extra present under the tree.
Tesla announced Friday an upgrade for its Roadster, the electric car company’s convertible model, and said that the new features significantly boost its range -- beyond what many traditional cars can get on a tank of gasoline.
The company is installing three retrofits for the vehicle. First up is a battery upgrade that marks a 31 percent increase in capacity. Next is an “aero kit” that’ll alter the car’s profile slightly, producing a 15 percent reduction in wind drag. Finally, the Roadster will be getting new, more efficient tires.
The result is an electric vehicle that can reliably travel about 350 miles before needing a recharge, and possibly more in ideal conditions. That’s pretty similar — or even better — than many conventional gasoline-powered cars. The University of Michigan estimates that the average fuel economy of a new car in 2014 was about 25 miles per gallon. With a 12- or 13-gallon tank, that gets you about 325 miles on a single fill-up.
“There is a set of speeds and driving conditions,” Tesla said in a blog post, “where we can confidently drive the Roadster 3.0 over 400 miles."
Roadster upgrade will enable non-stop travel from LA to SF -- almost 400 mile range. Details tmrw. Merry Christmas!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 25, 2014
The old Roadster could travel up to 244 miles on a single charge, according to the company. That makes the new Roadster's 400-mile range a nearly 2x improvement.
With the Roadster's starting price still hovering at over $100,000, most of us won't be reaping the benefits of this technology upgrade anytime soon. But, said company founder Elon Musk, expect it to arrive eventually in the Model S.
“It obviously *will* happen long-term,” he tweeted.
The announcement came amid predictions of a rough road ahead for the company. Morgan Stanley’s Adam Jonas, who has been an advocate for the company as its stock price has soared, wrote in a note to investors earlier this month that Tesla’s prospects will be seriously impacted by lower gasoline prices.
Jonas predicted Tesla will only be able to sell 300,000 vehicles by the end of the decade rather than the half million that he originally forecast. He added that the low price of oil won’t immediately effect Tesla’s current customers, who generally wealthy and pay less attention to gas prices. But as the company tries to sell cars to a broader base, fewer consumers may opt for electric cars.