If you own a Tesla and want to turn your shiniest toy into a useless brick, all you have to do is park it.
As soon as the battery is fully discharged, you have a useless, albeit pricey, hunk of metal on your hands, and Tesla will charge you $40,000 to get it up and running again — almost as much as the full cost of a new Tesla Model S.
UPDATE: Tesla has responded to the matter with a boilerplate statement, which we’ve included in full below.
Occasional blogger Michael DeGusta is on the waiting list for a Tesla Model X. In doing research on the cars, he found that if any Tesla car’s battery is fully drained, the owner will be unable to recharge it or even push it. The owner will eventually have to pay the aforementioned $40,000 to get a new battery from Tesla.
The battery can be fully drained simply by parking the vehicle too long without charging it because of the vehicles’ always-on systems running quietly in the background and using minuscule amounts of power over the hours and days. For a Tesla Roadster, this can happen over the course of 11 weeks, less if the battery is not fully charged when the car is parked.
“Either these issues will be resolved by the time it’s ready, Tesla will be gone by then, or I’ll most likely give up my spot and get a refund,” he wrote this morning on his blog.
DeGusta found five examples of bricked Tesla Roadsters so far, all of which were related to him by a Tesla service manager. In one case, a customer shipped his Roadster to Japan, where incompatible voltages and dwindling time quickly reduced him to a brick with no real options for economically advisable reanimation.
The kicker is that the owner’s warranty is voided in these scenarios due to the owner’s “failure to maintain the Battery at a proper charge level at all times.” Normal insurance policies don’t cover this situation, and payment plans are not available, DeGusta was told.
Mostly, though, DeGusta was perturbed that Tesla isn’t emphasizing the risks of battery drainage to prospective owners. On its website for the Model S, for example, the company states, “The Tesla battery is optimized for nightly charging… The Model S battery will not lose a significant amount of charge when parked for long periods of time.
“For example, Model S owners can park at the airport for extended vacations without plugging in.”
Unless you park it on a less-than-fully-charged battery then go on a month-long honeymoon or hiking expedition or missions trip, to counter Tesla’s example with a few rather common ones we can think of off the top of our heads. That kind of scenario might leave the hapless owner with a bricked car and little recourse.
Here’s Tesla’s statement, which was sent to VentureBeat via email; we’re still prodding the company for more information and specifics:
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 (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.