Tesla Roadster 2.5Enlarge Photo
Tesla's on a roll, it seems. Two days after its successful public stock offering, the company has released details of the latest updates to its Roadster electric sports car--known as "Roadster 2.5" after software-release numbering.
The 2.5 version sports some new styling at front and rear, including a new front fascia (the grille-and-bumper area) that incorporates diffusing vents. There's also a different rear air diffuser that reflects, says the company, "the future of Tesla design."
The changes come, Tesla says, as the result of its "close feedback loop" with its customers. "These improvements are a direct result of customer feedback," says CEO Elon Musk. In other words, they're fixing things that buyers have probably complained about.
Other updates include new "directional" forged wheels, offered in black or silver;
Inside, the most significant alteration is undoubtedly more comfortable seats, which have larger bolsters and now include a lumbar support system. Interior noise has been reduced in several ways, including new sound-suppressing front fender liners.
There's now an optional backup camera in a 7-inch touchscreen display as well.
Finally, Tesla has further modified the Roadster's power-control system, adding unspecified hardware to permit "spirited driving" (which we presume means maximum electric power) in exceptionally hot climates.
The company is now taking orders for the 2011 Tesla Roadster 2.5, and it will appear shortly in Tesla's network of stores in the U.S. and overseas. "Where feasible," according to Musk, "we will also offer existing customers the ability to purchase the upgrades."
Its two newest Tesla Stores--in Newport Beach, California, and Copehagen, Denmark--will open with evening receptions. Both will have the Roadster 2.5 on display.
The Roadster is as global as the rest of the industry: Its carbon fiber body panels come from France, and are shipped to Hethel, England, where sports-car maker Lotus builds and assembles "gliders," which are rolling Roadsters without powertrains.
Those are shipped to California, where Tesla adds in the 900-pound battery pack, the electric drive motor, and other components like power electronics. As a result, the Roadster is actually considered to be a U.S.-manufactured vehicle.
Tesla's S-1 statement, issued in late January, noted that Lotus would end production of the Roadster in March 2011 to renovate the production line for a new Elise model. (The Roadster uses many Lotus Elise components, and is built in the same facility.)
But earlier this year, Lotus agreed to extend the assembly deal through the end of 2011 and build another 700 Roadsters. That will make a total of 2,400 units altogether, and should supply Tesla through the 2012 model year at projected sales rates.
Tesla has now sold more than 1,200 Roadsters to buyers in 23 countries. It claims the cars have logged a total of more than 5 million miles. Questions remain, however, over whether the company can remain independent even after its IPO.