The Tesla Bricking Story? It’s Nonsense

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Here’s a fun fact: Batteries and cars require maintenance. The Tesla Roadster runs on batteries that require lots of maintenance. Out of the 2,200 Roadster owners, apparently at least five didn’t read the manual on their new toy and let the car sit off the charger for several months – or so says one regional service manager. This is a no-no according to Tesla. The result? The battery packs completely died and needed to be replaced at the owner’s expense.

This is not unique to the $100k Tesla Roadster. 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.

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.

The Tesla differs from traditional vehicles in that it does not have a combustion engine but rather an electric motor. There is a lot less to worry about. Electric motors have fewer fault points and a lot less fluid circulating inside. Tesla does recommend replacing Roadsters’ transmission fluid every 30k miles or once a year. But that’s about it. Well, besides maintaining the battery.

The Tesla Roadster is an intelligent vehicle. It warns the owner when the battery is low. The latest version of the Roadster can even alert Tesla itself if the battery level is too low. But apparently these owners decided to ignore those warnings and park their expensive electric cars for extended periods of time.

Tesla Motors released a statement today in response to TheUnderstatement’s scaremongering story.

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.

This fully-drained situation is also possible with the upcoming Model S sedan and Model X CUV. They use a similar lithium-ion battery pack. Tesla will no doubt seek to increase awareness of this potential issue, though.

The Roadster is a first generation electric vehicle. Since its introduction in 2008 it has enjoyed a life free from many public controversies. This battery nonsense will blow over and the Roadster can get back to causing real drama by embarrassing Porsche 911s everywhere.