There are 2,200 Tesla Roadsters out there, and you can only wonder what their owners are thinking today.
Reports are circulating of five cars that have “bricked”—that is, their batteries have fully discharged and become inoperable. You can’t recharge them from that state, and the wheels lock up. Your car is a brick. Yes, you were a dummy to let it get to that point, but still….
Tesla will replace the dead batteries at a cost to owners of about $40,000, and the company has offered a very tepid response to the situation, which you can read here.
There is no provision in the warranty to cover the damage, though Tesla has buyers sign a disclosure statement warning them about zero warranty coverage for permitting a zero state of charge. It’s kind of a fine-print thing.
A story on Green Car Reports more or less defends Tesla; Jalopnik claims that the company, or someone, is trying to smear the whistleblower who broke the story. So, controversy and bad publicity are all over the car media.
There are said to be no countermeasures that can prevent this short of keeping your car topped up, and while that may sound simple enough, it becomes tricky if you need to put the thing in storage for a few months.
The stories, which reflect owner stupidity and company negligence in warning them, are here. There are statements in the owners’ manual about the problem, but they don’t specify the extensive and expensive damage that could result from full discharge. We understand the same problem could apply to the Model S sedan and the upcoming Model X.
Tesla should have put a big red boldface sticker on its cars telling about these consequences and urging owners never to leave their cars unplugged. Instead, it offered the cutesy “reminder” shown at the top of our story.
Now, a real PR nightmare is brewing, and the company has to begin serious damage control. Nissan, incidentally, was quick to claim that this sort of zero-discharge couldn’t happen to a Leaf.
Will this story prove a real setback to the electric car business, or will it blow over?