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Roadster History North America

TEG

Teslafanatic
Aug 20, 2006
21,784
8,772
We have various other threads talking about differences in production details between different Roadsters. It has been suggested that these be consolidated, but I think it is best to leave those intact and start yet another trying to blend all the most interesting information into one place.

I can edit this post as corrections and additions are suggested.

===2005===

In 2005, Tesla was creating "test mules" by working with ACPropulsion to make drivetrains that they could put into Lotus Elise chassis. A couple of these mules were used internally to validate the technology, and then retired.

===2006===

In 2006, Tesla made about ten engineering/evalation prototype Roadsters. These were shown off to early customers & press, put through extreme testing, then mostly retired from service.
Some prototype parts were seen on them that were changed later for production.
For example, here is a prototype tail-light cluster:
ep-a.jpg

"Signature" logo as a sticker:
ep-b.jpg

"TESLA" logo and "ROADSTER" name as a sticker:
ep-c.jpg

White gauge cluster, 2 speed transmission...
ep-d.jpg


===2007===

In 2007, Tesla made about 14 Validation Prototype ("VP") Roadsters.
These continued to be shown to the press and used to evolve components as they got ready for regular production in the following year.
vp-a.jpg

vp-c.jpg


The VPs look a lot closer to the production models than the EPs and it becomes harder to spot the differences. Some of the VPs were done up in paint colors that didn't make production, and the seats got revised as production started.
Here is a VP showing how the tail-lights now have a red reflector inset in the brake lights, and although this one was used for display & testing in Europe, it had the narrow license plate cutout in the bumper that is more appropriate in North America. (VP12 shown below)
vp-b.jpg


===2008===

In 2008, Tesla continued making VPs (about 19 more), but also started regular production with about 27 Founders' series Roadsters (sold to company investors), 100 "Signature 100 cars" (first regular customers), and about 485 standard production models. The EPs, VPs, and Founders' series cars all had their own "VIN sequence", so when we look at the last 4 digits of a production Roadster VIN, that doesn't take into account those "other" Roadsters in the total # made before it.
vp-d.jpg


The early VPs, Founders', and some small numbers of Sig 100 cars came with a "1.0" drivetrain that included a 2 speed gearbox, but initial deliveries locked it in 2nd gear, as a reliability concern had been found with use of the shifting mechanism. Tesla redesigned the drivetrain, calling it "1.5" with a new PEM & Gearbox that could achieve their performance targets with only 1 gear ratio. They effectively recalled the early cars to have them retrofitted with the 1.5, and switched all production over to 1.5. I don't think there are any 1.0s in service anymore, as they were fairly thorough in swapping them all out.

I don't think you will find any 2006 or 2007 EPs/VPs in "private hands", but Tesla did sell off some of the 2008 VPs, and some of the Founders sold their cars later, so you sometimes see a 2008 VP or Founders' car listed for sale on eBay and such.

The Founders' series cars and the Sig 100 cars had special plaques made to show their special early production status.
founderp2.jpg

founderp.jpg

sig2.jpg

sig1.jpg

sig3.jpg

sig4.jpg


The 2008 model had a tachometer in the dash gauge cluster:
dash1.jpg

This was somewhat redundant as the switch to single gear made the tachometer and speedometer basically track together in lockstep.

All of the EPs/VPs/Founders'/Sig100s came with a standard forged 7 spoke wheel that looks like this:
wheel112.jpg

They continued to provide that wheel until sometime early in 2009 (but cars are still the 2008 model) when they switched to a new cast base wheel, and made the old forged wheel optional. The cast wheel started showing up around VIN#249, and looks like this:
wheel249.jpg

After a little while (VINs in the 300s) they started to phase in shinier finished version of the base wheel, and the dark painted version was phased out. (Although they even had a set left for the last of the 2008s VIN#500).
The shinier base wheel looks like this:
wheel340.jpg


Going between VIN#250 and #500 it is a bit random as to which wheel you may find. Any particular car may have been delivered with one of the 3 above wheel types.

Roadster #500 was the last 2008 model.

===2009===
Tesla continued to deliver 2008 model year Roadsters through the first half of 2009, so they skipped the 2009 model year and went straight to 2010.

===2010===

Tesla did a major update to the Roadster for the 2010 model year.
They called this Roadster 2.0, replacing the old Roadster 1.5
Externally the car looks basically the same, but "under the skin" there are substantial changes.
These changes were apparently done to reduce cost to manufacture, make the car easier to service, and improve reliability. They also made changes to improve behavior in very hot conditions.

Among the many changes:
  • "Gear"/direction selector buttons instead of a "stick shift" handle.
    prnd.jpg
  • VDS display relocated from the left knee area to below the radio, in front of the PRND buttons.
  • Revised PEM and Motor with better cooling capability.
  • Revised center gauge cluster with a kW meter instead of the old tachometer.
    newgauge.jpg

2010 also introduced the Sport package option which included many upgrade features including:
  • More low end torque for 0 to 60 in 3.7 instead of 3.9.
  • Adjustable suspension for higher performance handling.
  • Stickier tires. (Yokohama A048 instead of AD07)
    attachment.php?attachmentid=701&stc=1&d=1276046544.jpg
  • Special badges on the rear, side, and door entry threshold.
    sportbad.jpg

    rsport.jpg

    (Note, a small percentage of sport models seemed to lack some of the external badges.)
  • Black painted forged wheel option.
    wheels15.jpg
rsport.jpg


Around VIN#750, Tesla switched the rear bumper to a "global bumper" with a wider cutout for the license plate so that they only had to produce one type of bumper for global Roadsters. (Many European countries use wider license plates.)
Old:
bump764.jpg

New:
bump815.jpg

(note, they seemed to have both types of bumpers for a little while, so cars in the #700 to #800 range could have one or the other)

During the 2010 model year, Tesla did another update to switch from 2.0 to 2.5
This was a more visible exterior update including new front and rear bumpers.
Previously the 1.5 & 2.0s used the orignal Tesla logo like this:
bump589.jpg

But, starting around VIN#964, the 2.5 front bumper has a new shape with the new Tesla logo like this:
bump965.jpg


The rear bumper changed to have a different "diffuser" that doesn't "hang down" as much as the old.
It also has a provision for a new (for 2.5) backup camera option.
Old (2.0 sport):
bump783.jpg

New (2.5 sport):
bump972.jpg


2.5 also changed the forged wheel design to a "pinwheel" design with new "turbine blade spokes":
wheels25.jpg


2.5 also introduced the double-din upgrade stereo/NAV system, and optional carbon fiber interior accents.
dash984.jpg


Roadster #1169 was the last 2010 model.

===2011===
Roadsters #1170-#1464 are the 2011 models and continued as 2.5s relatively unchanged from the late 2010 versions.
Roadsters #1459-#1464 are called "the final 5" and offered special options, colors, striping and badging.
#1464 in a special red with "final 5 stripes", and "final 5 gray wheels":
stripes1464.jpg

finalfive.jpg


---


Related other threads:
Differences in roadster versions
Where they now? The first 100 Roadsters
Roadster production dates
 
Last edited:

tennis_trs

2010 2.0 Roadster Sport
Aug 25, 2009
302
7
...
(Note, a small percentage of sport models seemed to lack some of the external badges.)
...

They were out of the badges when my car was shipped. I think I got them 1-2 months later. I expect some people were forgotten about and didn't know/think to ask, or didn't want it on after they were used to not having the badges.

My CF door sills also came a few months after I got my car, and, like many others I'm sure, my clear coat hardtop came long (about 11 months) after I got my car.
 
Last edited:
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TEG

Teslafanatic
Aug 20, 2006
21,784
8,772
Someone may want to start a "Roadster History Europe" type thread, as the story there is a bit different.
They have right hand drive versions. They have a different VIN sequence.
A handful of the North American cars got exported back to Europe for special customers in the early days, but regular European production started with the European "SIG250" which have their own story I don't cover here.
 

TEG

Teslafanatic
Aug 20, 2006
21,784
8,772
Great. I am toying with the idea of adding the history of paint color choices, and stereo/nav options...
 

TEG

Teslafanatic
Aug 20, 2006
21,784
8,772
Approximate number of Roadsters produced for North America:
attachment.php?attachmentid=81408&d=1432066663.png


(some of the VPs went back and forth to/from Europe for shows and demos)
(Year was "model year". Region is where car was intended to go, but some were "gray market" exported to other places.)
 

sethr

CPO Roadster #1089
Mar 24, 2013
255
150
Fairfax, VA
Back when I was first in the process of getting my C.P.O. Roadster, I was given a test drive in a 2011 Roadster Sport (white, with exterior carbon fiber) out of the Washington, D.C. store. It had a number of signatures on the back of the door, and I was told they were the signatures of all the people who built that individual Roadster. There was no plaque like a signature Roadster, just the back of the door was signed (presumably with a "Magic Marker" and then sealed). Do you know anything more about those?
 

PV4EV

Supporting Member
Oct 26, 2011
564
758
Area 51(a) / UK
(VP12 shown below)
View attachment 6357

===2008===

Thanks for the excellent reference information !

The 2008 car shown in your post is still alive and kicking in the UK, albeit with a revised rear end.

I saw it only 3 weeks ago, parked in the compound at the UK main service centre, West Drayton, London. Apparently it has been used as a rolling test bed with numerous modifications and one-off experiments. I've also seen it out in the wild.

The online DVLA data shows it was first registered in Feb 2008, making it nearly 7.5 yrs old, which probably makes it the earliest UK registered one out there.
 

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Panicopticon

Member
May 24, 2014
149
47
Syracuse, NY, USA
Hope I'm not hijacking the thread too badly, if so please move it...

I understand from the reading I've done there are some (an unknown?) number of 2.25s around, which aren't listed in TEG's history post. To quote an earlier post from TEG the transition was "squishy".

Its my understanding that 2.25s are 2.0 body cars with some or all of the 2.5 running gear.

I ask because I have US 931 (5YJRE1A14A1000931), a non-sport 2010, with a production date of April 2010. I believe this would make it a 2.0, so I'd expect it to be 248HP/200lb-ft. However, the Telsa proforma invoice states it as 288HP/295lb-ft. Further confusing things, the reamins Roadster site indicates the standard Roadster 300HP/273lb-ft, though that might be for the 2.5?

Any idea if I have a 2.0 or a 2.25? Is the proforma invoice wrong? Or am I missing something?

Thanks!
 

TEG

Teslafanatic
Aug 20, 2006
21,784
8,772
They restated the HP numbers different times. I think it was mainly just different testing procedure.
As far as I know, the 2.25s were cosmetic changes only. Mainly to put the 2.5 external look on a 2.0 car.
I have even seem some early EPs with 2.5 bodywork and Roadster Sport symbols even though it was still just 1.5 mechanicals underneath.
1.5s (2008s) were rather different than 2.0 & 2.5 (2010 & 2011), but I think between 2.0 & 2.5 the mechanical changes were minimal.
I think the HP/Torque for 2010 & 2011 Roadsters is primarily about Sport vs Non-Sport. I think a 2.0 Sport probably had similar numbers to a 2.5 Sport.
And a 2.0 Base had similar numbers to a Base 2.5. With that said, I heard that some cars are referred to as "mutants" because they ended up with more power than they should. I guess the motor windings and such were a bit variable. From Roadster to Roadster things are fairly consistent, but there is still a bit of variability in there. Personally, I think measuring performance is more useful than trying to figure out which HP/Torque numbers might be closest for your particular car.
 

Panicopticon

Member
May 24, 2014
149
47
Syracuse, NY, USA
TEG, thank you for the clarification, I appreciate it. Based on that I'm assuming there is a typo on my proforma invoice. Perhaps if I end up at a show with a dyno I'll spin it and see what comes out...
 

brucet999

Active Member
Mar 12, 2015
2,679
1,489
Huntington Beach, CA
They restated the HP numbers different times. I think it was mainly just different testing procedure.
As far as I know, the 2.25s were cosmetic changes only. Mainly to put the 2.5 external look on a 2.0 car.
I have even seem some early EPs with 2.5 bodywork and Roadster Sport symbols even though it was still just 1.5 mechanicals underneath.
1.5s (2008s) were rather different than 2.0 & 2.5 (2010 & 2011), but I think between 2.0 & 2.5 the mechanical changes were minimal.
I think the HP/Torque for 2010 & 2011 Roadsters is primarily about Sport vs Non-Sport. I think a 2.0 Sport probably had similar numbers to a 2.5 Sport.
And a 2.0 Base had similar numbers to a Base 2.5. With that said, I heard that some cars are referred to as "mutants" because they ended up with more power than they should. I guess the motor windings and such were a bit variable. From Roadster to Roadster things are fairly consistent, but there is still a bit of variability in there. Personally, I think measuring performance is more useful than trying to figure out which HP/Torque numbers might be closest for your particular car.

There is an article in the LA Times today that in part says the Roadster price was $89k, but I remembered it being in excess of $100K. An online source put the 2011 as $109k to $128k.

Can you shed light on the subject? Was the Signature Roadster priced at $89k?
 
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TEG

Teslafanatic
Aug 20, 2006
21,784
8,772
There is an article in the LA Times today that in part says the Roadster price was $89k, but I remembered it being in excess of $100K. An online source put the 2011 as $109k to $128k.
Can you shed light on the subject? Was the Signature Roadster priced at $89k?

There were a number of price changes along the way... (Generally upwards.)
Yes, the first people to put deposits down got them for the lowest price. But then again Tesla had lots of their money for years before they got their cars, and it was a big gamble to make an up front payment for an uncertain product from an unproven company. The faithful got rewarded (slightly).

I think the original price was $100K, but then you got $7500 fed tax credit back, plus credits in many states (e.g.$5K CARB rebate in California at the time.)

Tesla Motors "sells out" of Signature 100 Roadsters

http://www.theautochannel.com/news/2006/08/16/018881.html
...Each customer made a $100,000 deposit to join the Signature One Hundred Club and reserve their “Signature One Hundred” special edition Tesla Roadster...
 
Last edited:

brucet999

Active Member
Mar 12, 2015
2,679
1,489
Huntington Beach, CA
There were a number of price changes along the way... (Generally upwards.)
Yes, the first people to put deposits down got them for the lowest price. But then again Tesla had lots of their money for years before they got their cars, and it was a big gamble to make an up front payment for an uncertain product from an unproven company. The faithful got rewarded (slightly).

I think the original price was $100K, but then you got $7500 fed tax credit back, plus credits in many states (e.g.$5K CARB rebate in California at the time.)

Tesla Motors "sells out" of Signature 100 Roadsters

http://www.theautochannel.com/news/2006/08/16/018881.html

Thanks.

I did find it in a March 2008 Road and Track test drive review; $98,500.
 

markwj

Moderator, Asia Pacific
Apr 10, 2011
4,603
1,218
Hong Kong
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