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Tesla electric car not ready for prime time?

Look, I’m totally fine with new technology, heck, I’m a technology freak, but it does not look like Tesla’s battery pack is ready for prime time.

What it comes down to is this. If the power goes out here at my house for six or seven days (yeah, it happened) and my $100,000-plus Tesla Motors Roadster had just returned from a trip where the battery had been mostly drained, it’s possible the battery in the vehicle would be completely discharged by the time the power came back on at my house.

As a side note, I’d never purchase a $100,000 Tesla Roadster.

No big deal right? Well, not exactly. You might not be able to recharge the battery, and that could cost you $40,000 to fix.

[Tesla] cars all share the same battery pack design, which apparently has a major flaw, or at least a giant caveat.

The problem? The vehicle’s battery pack, should it ever become fully discharged, will not charge back up. The only thing most of us can compare this sort battery issue with its computers and other gadgets. If your notebook battery refuses to charge up, it costs you a few hundred dollars at most to replace it. If the battery on your Tesla vehicle refuses charge back up, well, then, you could be looking at a cool $40,000 to get your car running again. Consider that this car sells in the six-digit range, the battery pack is obviously a huge chunk of the overall cost.

There is a 3 year, 36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, but unless you pony up the extra funds for an extended warranty, the battery is not covered after three years. Tesla estimates the battery will last about 100,000 miles and after that, you might as well junk the car and the battery alone costs $36,000 plus labor to install it.

Correction/Update: From the Tesla’s owner manual, with my emphasis in bold.

Caution: If the Battery’s charge level falls to 0%, it must be plugged in immediately. Failure to do so can permanently damage the Battery and this damage is not covered by the New Vehicle Limited Warranty. Also, if you allow the Battery to fall to a critically low level it may not be possible to charge the vehicle.

Tesla responded

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 (state of charge) 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.

OK, sounds good. But what if the battery does hit zero percent charge? It’s bricked. Dead. Tesla does not dispute that fact, and it will cost you somewhere in the range of $40,000 to fix the issue. If I have no power at the house and the thing is screaming at me that it’s about to die, what am I supposed to do? Call out for a trailered generator that can pump out 240 volts to bring it back to life before it dies for good?

It’s interesting to note the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf are set up to never hit zero percent charge.

Again, I’m all for cool new technology, but I’m willing to wait until the price is right and the value is there. That said, I’m furious the federal government and the Department of Energy has provided billions of guaranteed loans to companies including Ford, Tesla, and Nissan to fund these projects. It’s flat out unconstitutional. Tesla received more than $400 billion in 2009.

Tesla, a company with about 1,000 employees, lost $81.5 million in their most recent reporting quarter. For some reason, Tesla is expecting to have revenues of up to $600 million in 2012, after revenues of about $200 million in 2011.

Lookin’ on the bright side I guess.

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8 Responses to "Tesla electric car not ready for prime time?"

  1. sammy22 says:

    I think I would invest in an emergency electric generator. People do that just to save the content of a freezer.

  2. Dimsdale says:

    Well, I don’t know about the Tesla, being solely battery operated, but there is a MUCH more extensive warranty in place for hybrid car components including emissions (15 years / 150,000 miles) and the battery (10 years / 150,000 miles) for drivers in CA, NY, ME, VT, MA and CT.  This is above and beyond the battery/component warranty everyone else gets.   An all battery vehicle may be exempt from that, particularly given that the battery life is only expected to be 100K miles.
     
    That aside, even if I could afford a $100K car, it would not be this one.   Seriously, $40K for a battery???  Hybrid batteries have been falling in price to something in the $2K range installed, outside the mandated warranty presumably.  Steep, but no $40K.  Do prices of parts have to get proportionally more expensive with the cost of the car?  Doubtless, there is more to a Tesla battery than its price, but shazam!, that’s pricey!

  3. Eric says:

    I wouldn’t own an electric powered car if it were the last means of transportation  on earth!  These cars just aren’t ready for prime time, and there’s nothing clean about electric power.  The coal fired power plant that supplies power to your home has to work overtime so you can  recharge those batteries.  People don’t talk much about that part of the “clean energy” scam.  I’ll stick with the reliability and efficiency of a gasoline engine thank you.  Even at $5 a gallon the gasoline powered car is a bargain when buying price… and if you ever sit in a Chevy Volt you’ll realize just how cheap GM can make an interior. 

  4. johnboy111 says:

    was listening to the news tonight..when this occured to me….how long before the one decides that gas prices are a problem that JUST can’t wait..so he and joe will act to take over the gas co’s  [maxine waters said this liberal is all about socializing the oil co?]hummmm?

  5. Tim-in-Alabama says:

    It’s not Tesla’s fault. It’s the fault of the people who bought the cars and expected routine operation. They’re probably Bush supporters, and we all know how stupid they are. Hahaha. I’m so clever. 

  6. Lynn says:

    A Tesla costs $100K and $40K for battery, only the RICH can afford that. I thought rich people were bad, except for Buffet, who doesn’t have to pay his fair share of taxes

  7. Lynn says:

    Oh I got it it’s a cheap house.

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