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Tesla parades sleek model body and fab batt at Roadster fans

More power + less drag = 400-mile range between charges

Elon Musk's Earth-bound transport company has upgraded its two-seater Roadster sports car design with a better battery – and a new body that will increase the range of the flash motors by up to 50 per cent, apparently.

"Battery technology has continued a steady improvement in recent years, as has our experience in optimizing total vehicle efficiency through Model S development," Tesla said in a blog post. "We have long been excited to apply our learning back to our first vehicle, and are thrilled to do just that with the prototype Roadster 3.0 package."

The biggest change to the electric Roadster is its battery pack. Although this technology was state of the art in 2008 – when the cars first rolled off the production line – it's now seriously outdated. So, the capacity has been increased by 31 per cent to give it 70kWh of juice, we're told.

The Roadster 3.0 will slip through the air with greater ease: the old design had a drag coefficient of 0.36, but a new body shell cuts that to 0.31, and we're told the new body can be retrofitted to older models.

The 'leccy ride will also benefit from new wheels, according to Tesla. The updated Roadster uses new rubber with a rolling resistance coefficient (Crr) of 8.9 kg/ton, compared to 11.0 kg/ton from the original model. Tesla is also working on an improved braking system and wheel bearings that will further boost efficiency.

Tesla thinks all these changes will lead to a 400-mile range for the car, compared to the original model's 245 miles. To test this out, the new car will drive non-stop from San Francisco to Los Angeles in January.

While most of the Tesla cars on the road today are the Tesla S saloon model, there are still some Roadsters around and they are proving to be an investment in the second-hand market – a used Roadster will set you back $120,000, compared to the new price of $109,000 before Tesla stopped sales in September 2012. About 2,500 were built and sold.

Oddly, Tesla didn't explicitly say whether it will restart the Roadster production lines, although the firm has promised more updates for the sporty little machine. ®

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