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    The Bricked Battery Affair

    I watched a brief video on Motley Fool last weekend to the effect that Tesla Motors is a good investment while Zipcar has probably grown to its upper limit within walkable urban cities. But I'd be concerned about the bricked Roadster battery reports, which are getting fierce on both sides. A dogpile search shows dozens of stories like "Tesla Downplays Danger of Bricked Battery" and some that ridicule anyone that wouldn't already know that batteries will discharge. Meanwhile, self-proclaimed experts on Slashdot swear that LIon batteries couldn't possibly be fully discharged because they found an old cell phone once and recharged it.

    On the other hand, Jalopnik stokes the issue with, Who Is Trying To Smear the Tesla Battery Problem Whistleblower?:

    Since the story went live someone — possibly Tesla Motors themselves — has been attempting to smear Mr. Drucker by insinuating that he's trying to "shakedown" the company for money. They did so by forwarding a confidential email to the environmental car site GreenCarReports from Drucker to Elon Musk about the issue. ...

    Asked pointedly if he was trying to get money out of Tesla, Drucker insists he's not and never has tried to get anything but warranty coverage for the issue, although he's since even given up on that.

        "I have no intention of replacing my battery, I expect nothing from them based on the emails I've received, and I feel like it's important for future Tesla owners to understand what they're getting themselves into," says Drucker.

    Nowhere in the emails provided to Jalopnik, which you can read in the gallery, does Drucker appear to ask for money or special treatment beyond having the issue addressed. The basic tone appears to be one of concern for other owners, although this is open to interpretation.

    Some stories claim that the batteries in the new Tesla Model S are designed to prevent destructive discharge while others claim that S batteries are just as susceptible. Some articles claim that the Nissan Leaf batteries are designed differently, while yet another article showed that the Leaf's manual advised owners to not let the car sit for more than a few weeks.

    No matter how it sorts out, these stories do nothing as much as make people more nervous about driving on battery power. For the cost of one car's batteries, Tesla, and all EV manufacturers, have a real mess on their hands.



    In,Will Tesla's 'Brick' Issues Weigh on Its Stock Price? Motley Fool doubles down on Tesla:

    While most would agree that the company should have been more forthcoming with owners, Tesla's new technology having battery problems is not a first in the automobile industry. Nissan (OTC: NSANY.PK - News) has been upfront about the issues with the Leaf's battery pack losing capacity with time. The company has explained that after five years or 60,000 miles of use, the battery will retain only about 80% of its original capacity. ...

    Other industries that rely heavily on battery technology have also been plagued with problems. Apple has (Nasdaq: AAPL - News) experienced battery problems with nearly every generation of the iPhone, the iPod, and now reports of battery issues with the iPad have arisen. Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG - News) Android-powered devices also have had customers complaining about battery life. The big complaints come from those who are regularly on the internet and downloading applications. Even laptops have had issues recently: Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and Apple have all recalled thousands of batteries for overheating and electrical shorts...

    There are always growing pains associated with new technology and the pain falls on the early adopters. So even though I do feel Tesla should have been more open in the beginning about the battery problems, I don't believe this will have a lasting effect on vehicle sales. All in all, I'm still bullish on Tesla, which is why I am reiterating my thumbs-up Caps Call for this rule-breaking car company.

    But in, Tesla Says Blogger’s Battery Post Sparked ‘Irrational’ Fear, BusinessWeek notes that other companies are rushing to reassure prospective customers:

    Nissan Motor Co., seller of all-electric Leaf hatchbacks, said in a statement the lithium-ion battery pack it uses “will never discharge completely, thanks to an advanced battery management system designed to protect the battery from damage.”

    The Leaf’s warranty booklet cautions owners against “leaving your vehicle for over 14 days where the lithium-ion battery reaches a zero or near zero state of charge,” Katherine Zachary, a company spokeswoman, said in an e-mailed statement.

    Toyota Motor Corp., which this year is to sell electric RAV4 crossovers using Tesla-supplied batteries and motors, said that model will “feature multiple safeguards to avoid full battery depletion,” said Jana Hartline, a company spokeswoman.

    So if I take a long vacation or business trip, I need a car-sitter for my EV.

    So if I take a long vacation or business trip, I need a car-sitter for my EV.

    Probably just a trickle charger is all you'll need. 

    Electric utilities really should be sponsoring more R&D for electric cars since it is looking more and more like they will end up being more vampire applicances.


    Oh, great.  Now I can't drive my electric car in the daytime, or put pizza in it if there's garlic in the sauce?

    EV World, who I expected would support Tesla's position, instead supports the owner's complaints. [Actually it was a reprint of the Understatement's blog post.] Somehow they tracked down the other bricks:

    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.

    A third bricked Tesla Roadster apparently sits in its owner’s garage in Newport Beach, California. That owner allegedly had a similar prior incident with a BMW-produced electric vehicle. He claimed BMW replaced that vehicle, but Tesla refuses to do the same. The owner either couldn’t afford or didn’t want to pay Tesla the $40,000 (or more) to fix his car.

    A fourth customer shipped his Tesla Roadster to Japan, reportedly only to discover the voltages there were incompatible. By then, it was too late, the car was bricked, and he had to ship it back to the US for repairs.

    That's five bricks out of 2,500 Roadsters. It is true that all cars require maintenance, as did horses, but the peculiarities of the IC engine have become so ingrained that switching to EVs is going to take a lot of reeducation.

    It does sound as though Tesla bungled pr on these complaints but I am finding it difficult to feel much sympathy for anyone who paid over $100,000 for an experimental car and who was somewhat complicit in turning it into a brick.  

    YMMV but I have had plenty of problems with IC cars. . My first new car ate a couple of batteries before the dealer finally figured out the problem was with the alternator.  In my second one, the electrical system completely shorted out blocking an intersection during rush hour.

    Murphy's law always applies. ;-/


    Oh we bought a Chevy minivan that died repeatedly on trips. On one, they had to rewire the main harness. And we parked at a metro station on a trip, locked the door and went into the station. Some couple came up and said your sliding door opened just after you walked away.

    But none of that cost 40% of the value of the car to fix, and a lot of it was covered by warranty.

    I was thinking, how many people will take a chance on buying a used EV that might have a compromised battery inside?

    In, Five Problems For Tesla Motors, The Understatement keeps the brick issue going.

    Well, watch as Tesla CEO Elon Musk tells Jay Leno that the Tesla Roadster “doesn’t actually care about the state of charge”, “you can leave it at 5%”, and if you ever want to plug it in, “you just need an extension cord” — exactly the kind of behavior Tesla would later say is unwarrantied “neglect”. Elon’s tips for voiding your warranty start just on the 3 minute mark.

    I gather that Mike Degusta, the Understatement blogger, is a friend of Max, who had the bricked car. Max bought a Roadster, while Degusta had a put down a deposit of $5,000 for a Model S. Both appear to be EV enthusiasts who sound somewhat disillusioned by the experience of dealing with a real car company.

    In Fire, Coal, Bricks, EV World's enthusiast Bill Moore actually does dismiss the brick issue—as I thought he would—and a few more.

    Essentially, driving internal combustion vehicles has required that we ignore a set of quirks and problems over the years, and driving EVs will require that we ignore a different set of quirks and problems.

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