Tech makeover for the Tesla Roadster

Al & Ed's Autosound guru Mr. Mobile installs a new audio system in a Tesla Roadster.

Al & Ed's Autosound

We just completed one of the most interesting installations that we've done in awhile. The owner of this brand-new Tesla roadster is a client of the Al & Ed's Autosound location in West Hollywood. The vehicle was in serious need of some mobile audio goodies, and also an update to the interior and some of the trim. The store has done a number of his vehicles over the years, and when he showed up in this all-electric roadster, nobody knew that there were some challenges ahead.

The Tesla is an all-electric roadster capable of 0-to-60 mph times in less than four seconds, and has a top speed of 125 mph. You've got about 240 miles of driving before the vehicle needs charging, which takes under four hours. While it is a pretty technically amazing vehicle, it lacks in the interior appointments for a car of this price ($101,500 base, plus charging equipment) and the sound system is pretty anemic (JVC-branded AVN single-DIN radio plus four 4-inch speakers).

Tesla Roadster
Al & Ed's Autosound

The first challenge in selecting equipment came from Tesla Motors. Because this is an all-electric vehicle, the factory was very concerned about any equipment that would add excessive weight or would draw too much current from the electrical system, both of which could actually reduce performance in the vehicle. Al & Ed's got around all of this with a clever solution. The entire audio system is powered by its own Stinger (made by Odyssey) battery with its own charging system.

The factory head unit was replaced with a Kenwood KVT514 motorized monitor with the Garmin-based Kenwood navigation system. They also added a Kenwood Bluetooth hands-free system, an XM Radio tuner, and a cable to plug in the client's iPod. The head unit's functions and all of the accessories are all controlled by the Kenwood touch screen, which has a very consumer-friendly GUI.

Tesla Roadster
Al & Ed's Autosound

The amplifier is a single Alpine PDX4.100 digital amplifier, which powers the door speakers and the Pioneer shallow-design 10-inch subwoofer. The sub enclosure was constructed from fiberglass in the passenger foot well, and is not visible when the floor mat is in place. The amp is also tucked away, out of sight. The doors went under major reconstruction, and instead of the factory 4-inch speakers, a set of Focal 165KRX2 6.5-inch components were installed. A set of 4-inch Focals were installed in the factory locations, behind the seats.

The entire interior was gutted and recovered in a combination of German premium-grade leather and stitched Alcantara suede. Plastic trim pieces, such as the rocker panels, were hand-constructed in carbon fiber to match the factory carbon pieces. The interior was transformed to a more luxurious cockpit, more appropriate to the vehicle's design. Carbon fiber was also used to replace some of the factory body pieces, such as the front diffuser and rear wing.

Tesla head unit
Al & Ed's Autosound

The vehicle also received an Escort 9500ci "ticket avoidance system," providing the driver with front and rear laser shifters and 360-degree radar detection coverage. This Escort system comes with a GPS system that is preloaded with known speed traps and red light cameras. Current information can be downloaded online and flashed to the unit as desired.

The install came off very well and the owner was completely satisfied. All of the work was done at the Al & Ed's Autosound, West Hollywood location.

John Haynes, aka Mr. Mobile of Al & Ed's Autosound, contributes articles from the shop floor about car stereo and electronics to CNET. Al & Ed's Autosound is a multistore professional installer of car audio systems and electronics.