Tesla Motors has been at the cutting edge of the move to make electric vehicles acceptable to the general population, and last week the automaker announced a number of innovations that may move that dream closer to becoming a reality.
Tesla claims to have developed a new electric battery technology that will give its Roadster AEV a range of up to 400 miles between recharging. The Roadster, which was introduced in 2008, was equipped with a lithium-ion battery that was considered “state-of-the-art.” Since then Tesla has made a number of advancements, and the current Tesla Model S (the company’s flagship model) currently gets approximately 265 miles on a charge.
In the December 19th announcement Tesla said, “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.”
The automaker has also made some significant improvements in the Roadster’s body styling that have resulted in a 15 percent improvement in drag coefficient, from 0.36 down to 031. A “retrofit aero kit” can be applied to current Roadsters to give them the same aerodynamic advantage as upcoming models.
The company also plans to fit future Roadsters with new tires that have a rolling resistance coefficient (Crr) of 8.9 kg/ton, down from the 11.0 kg/ton offered by the tires currently in use. Tesla says, “We are also making improvements in the wheel bearings and residual brake drag that further reduce overall rolling resistance of the car.”
The 15 percent improvement in drag coefficient, combined with the 20 percent improvement in rolling resistance coefficient and the more efficient battery pack, will reportedly give the Roadster an operational range of approximately 400 miles between recharges.
Tesla is expected to replace the lithium-ion battery pack currently in about 2,400 Roadsters currently in commission with the new battery pack.
The automaker is also expected to replace the battery packs in existing Model S AEVs, although no official announcement to that effect has been made. On December 26, Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk tweeted, “Should mention that a battery pack upgrade is not coming soon for the Model S, but it obviously *will* happen long-term.”