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Quick Note: Tesla Electric Car, Revisited

February 23, 2012

A recent Note discussed the Tesla automobile, an impressive, and expensive, electric car. That note can be found at: Quick Note: The Tesla X Automobile. Today, Matt Burns reports on a related story in The post “The Tesla Bricking Story? It’s Nonsense” talks about owners “bricking” their Tesla’s by not maintaining the battery charge properly.

Devices with advanced rechargeable batteries often suffer if the batteries are left fully depleted. If you happen to own a $100,000 electric car, destroying the battery pack could be…disappointing. According to Burns’ post, “Batteries stop working without a charge. It just so happens that the battery pack in question isn’t a $100 laptop battery. The latest owner with a bricked Tesla is reportedly going to have to pay $40,000 to replace the battery pack in his Roadster.” [italics are added by me to quotes from the post]

That seems to be a bit of a flaw for an expensive car. For example, it wouldn’t be ideal to drive your Tesla to the airport if the airport is on the edge of your driving radius. Definitely not the car to take on a winter holiday, either. Tesla’s position is outlined in Burns’ post:

Tesla notes in a released statement today that the Roadster can sit for weeks or months without a problem — if the car is originally fully charged. Problems arise if, say, if an owner took a Roadster for a drive, depleted the battery and then parked it in his seaside bungalow while he went yachting. Car and bike enthusiasts will attest that batteries die when not maintained. Trickle chargers are often employed to prevent batteries from dying while vehicles are in storage. Nissan advises Leaf owners to plug in the vehicle within 14 days of depleting the battery. Tesla says to do it immediately with the likely cause being the Roadster has several low-level systems that run even when the car is not in use.

Tesla also released a statement, quoted in italics in Burns’ post, which I will reproduce here:

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 (or 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.

So, it’s a cool car, a cool idea and a very good post. I recommend a quick read.

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