For $29,000 Tesla Roadster owners can give their cars new life


Tesla Roadster red

Dennis Larson/Flickr

Getting an upgrade!

Tesla became the hottest car company on Earth by making a very simple decision: build a sexy electric car and people will pay attention.


When the Tesla Roadster first hit the streets, it was a revelation. Based on a Lotus sports car design, it was battery powered but the polar opposite of a golf cart. It was fast. It was fun. It turned heads.

In my first face-to-face conversation with CEO Elon Musk, at Tesla's then-first retail store in Santa Monica, CA, I pointed out that he had rescued Hollywood celebrities from having to drive around in Priuses. He nodded in acknowledgment.

It's easy to forget about the Roadster now, as Tesla has temporarily discontinued production to focus on the Model S sedan and the Model X SUV. But there are plenty of Roadster owners who continue to enjoy their cars, and for them Tesla is now offering a $29,000 battery pack upgrade that boosts range from 245 miles to 400.

The 245-mile number was already pretty darn good, as electric cars go. When I test drove a Roadster several years ago, I was hard-pressed to bring on anything that even vaguely resembled "range anxiety," and I didn't hold back on the accelerator. Bumping that to 400 really just means that you can now drive your good old Roadster in spirited fashion for longer. Although it obviously also means lengthier jaunts between charges.


It will cost Tesla owners $5,000 to reserve a new pack. The sticker price for the new pack looks kind of high (although the battery is the most expensive component of a Tesla vehicle in any case), but this is effectively a bespoke hand-built upgrade, something for the most loyal, earliest adopters - or any Roadster fan who want to pick a car up used and improve it.

The Tesla Roadster thrilled the bejeezus out of me, and if I owned one and had the wherewithal, this upgrade would be a no-brainer. It takes what was one of the coolest cars on the road five years ago and really expands its capabilities.

However, Tesla has said that an all-new Roadster will join the lineup in 2019. So current owners will have to ask themselves if they want to spend almost 30 grand now to upgrade, or save the money and wait a few years to get a car that could be something truly astonishing, given the advancements Tesla has made since the first Roadsters were introduced.

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