Tesla Roadsters Parked Without Being Plugged in Brick Themselves (In as Little as One Week)

February 22nd, 2012

Check this out:

As a second Roadster owner discovered, the Tesla battery system can completely discharge even when the vehicle is plugged in. This owner’s car was plugged into a 100-foot long extension cord for an extended period. The length of this extension cord evidently reduced the electric current to a level insufficient to charge the Tesla, resulting in another “bricked” Roadster.

What!? I can understand that it wouldn’t be possible to charge the batteries due to losses introduced by the long extension cord… But how much power does it take to keep that thing from bricking itself?

In any event, I guess the old solar trickle charger aint gonna get-er done. *chortle*

Via: The Understatement:

Tesla Motors’ lineup of all-electric vehicles — its existing Roadster, almost certainly its impending Model S, and possibly its future Model X — apparently suffer from a severe limitation that can largely destroy the value of the vehicle. If the battery is ever totally discharged, the owner is left with what Tesla describes as a “brick”: a completely immobile vehicle that cannot be started or even pushed down the street. The only known remedy is for the owner to pay Tesla approximately $40,000 to replace the entire battery. Unlike practically every other modern car problem, neither Tesla’s warranty nor typical car insurance policies provide any protection from this major financial loss.

Despite this “brick” scenario having occurred several times already, Tesla has publicly downplayed the severity of battery depletion risk to both existing owners and future buyers. Privately though, Tesla has gone to great lengths to prevent this potentially brand-destroying incident from happening more often, including possibly engaging in GPS tracking of a vehicle without the owner’s knowledge.

2 Responses to “Tesla Roadsters Parked Without Being Plugged in Brick Themselves (In as Little as One Week)”

  1. JWSmythe Says:

    There’s an update to this on Slashdot.


    Apparently, if the battery is dead, you have to get it towed to a charging station, and then have the battery management system reset.

    A friend of mine has a Prius, and it has a similar fault. If you’re driving, and it runs out of gas, you can continue on the batteries. If you get to a gas station and fuel up, if there isn’t sufficient charge in the batteries, the car won’t start. There is no option for jump starting it in this situation. It has to be towed to Toyota, and a similar service is done to it.

    I like doing my own repairs to cars, and I like to consider the apocalypse scenario. Something catastrophic happened (hurricane, earthquake, zombies, whatever), and your vehicle ran out of gas. You walk to the nearest fuel, fill up the first handy container, and walk back. Aw shit, you left the headlights on, and the battery is dead now.

    A dead battery is easy enough to resolve. Push start it, or hijack a battery from a car that was previously owned by the now walking dead.

    Now, if you had a Tesla or Prius, hopefully you have a tow truck, power station handy, and the tools to reset the charging computer. I don’t own either, so I don’t know the procedures.

    The practicality is, with the Tesla or Prius, you *have* to get the dealer to help you. If you’re under warranty, you’re fine. If not, prepare to spend some decent money to get it fixed.

    With any other vehicle, if you can acquire a gas can, battery, and a wrench, you’re all set.

    Being that I’ve needed to jump start 3 cars in the last few months, because their batteries have failed (coincidentally each had approx 5 year old batteries, which is right about MTBF), having the battery die is a legitimate concern.

  2. Kevin Says:

    Tesla admits it:


    All automobiles require some level of owner care. For example, combustion vehicles require regular oil changes or the engine will be destroyed. Electric vehicles should be plugged in and charging when not in use for maximum performance. All batteries are subject to damage if the charge is kept at zero for long periods of time. However, Tesla avoids this problem in virtually all instances with numerous counter-measures. Tesla batteries can remain unplugged for weeks (even months), without reaching zero state of charge. Owners of Roadster 2.0 and all subsequent Tesla products can request that their vehicle alert Tesla if SOC falls to a low level. All Tesla vehicles emit various visual and audible warnings if the battery pack falls below 5 percent SOC. Tesla provides extensive maintenance recommendations as part of the customer experience.

    Did you catch that?

    Tesla avoids this problem in virtually all instances with numerous counter-measures.

    In other words, a handful of people of people have to pay the 40k for new battery packs.

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