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“It’S A Brick” – Tesla Motors’ Devastating Design Problem

55 posts in this topic

I'm in two minds here

1) This problem could (and should) have been engineered away

2) You have to be pretty stupid to get your Tesla into this situation. Along the lines of droping your ICE car into neutral, revving it to 16,000 rpm and then complaining when the engine blows up.

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whoever invents a workable pantograph leccy pickup system for a car, maybe to be used on trunk roads and motorways, and patents it, may become a billionaire

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I feel for this Tesla guy. I've just changed my motorbike battery for the third time and bike batteries are not cheap. It does have to cope with alpine weather, most recently nights down to -30C, still that also managed to kill my diesel car.

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I suspect that this was simply not something that was considered in the design.

By the sounds of things, the battery pack has an extremely complex active management system that is designed to keep the battery in optimal condition. So, it constantly monitors for weak cells, and presumably will draw power from the pack as a whole to top-up weak or undercharged cells. There may also be small heaters in the pack, to ensure that the batteries don't freeze (causing damage) or offer inadequate performance at low temperatures.

The mistake seems to have been using such a system which might be quite an energy hog, and not considering the issue that people may not always be able to act upon low battery warnings - people go on holiday, get ill, etc.

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tesla are saying a fully charged car takes 11 weeks to discharge to zero.

but what if youve used up most of the battery. the range is only 100 odd miles. its not inconceivable for people to use up the majority of the battery on a regular basis given such a short range.

saying youre unable to start your car is one thing. saying youve bricked your car, cant even move it and it will cost you $40,000 to repair it is a big flaw.

bear in mind too that with such a short range its going to be used as a second car / weekend car not the main car.

Edited by mfp123

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I must admit, if I had just blown £100k on a new car reliant on battery power, I might spend the odd minute or so reading about how to best look after it!

Me too, but I suspect that anyone who can afford to spend 100K on what, awesome though it may be, is still a fairly experimental piece of technology is probably so loaded that 100K doesn't mean much to them.

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Why post this?

D'ya think petrol cars are maintenance free or something?

No, but you cannot incur a $40k repair bill for an petrol car simply by leaving it unused for a couple of weeks. You have actively to do something stupid, e.g. fill it up with Diesel, and even then the bill is a lot less.

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LiPo cells are no good for road vehicles. not if you want decent life. They use cobalt oxide that makes them a bit spicey when things go wrong. They can loose 10-15% capacity over 50 cycles if discharged at maximum quoted rate. LiFePo4 cells are much better. Lower energy density but much safer and a much better service life. These can handle a few thousand charges.

I work for a company that makes a lot of lab test kit. We have have loads of stuff going to the auto industry at the mo.

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2) You have to be pretty stupid to get your Tesla into this situation. Along the lines of droping your ICE car into neutral, revving it to 16,000 rpm and then complaining when the engine blows up.

I did just that yesterday, and the car is fine. I missed a gear while overtaking, the car spun up to about 8000 rpm and the rev limiter kicked in. No damage done, apart from to my pride as what was going to be a smooth overtake got a bit fraught.

With a conventional car, there are very few "in actions" that can destroy the car. You can omit to service it, and it will eventually fail. You can stick the wrong fuel in it, but as long as you don't try and drive off, the bill isn't that bad.

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i bet the scrap batteries are worth about 20k ?

the cash in yer phone people would have a baby if you walked in with that much lithion.

so this story is not exactly true

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Firstly, the Tesla Roadster is a 100K high performance car to begin with. So the amount of money is relative to that.

The battery holds its charge for months when not being used, and alerts the owner and Tesla when charge gets low. Clever car!

Tesla stated the issue in their warranty, in the same way an ICE manufacturer insists on regular services, oil changes etc, etc, etc,...

This problem is not an issue with the high volume cars like the Nissan Leaf (see below)

The fact that Nissan got round the problem adds to the case that Tesla made a mistake. 40k is still a lot of money even if your car cost 100k. I accept that the Tesla is a rich geeks car - for "early adopter" types who get off on the technology - so in reality it might well be a non-issue.

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I drive a tesla. I feel this gives me an interesting insight on this thread, and the opinions people hold on this topic in general. I'm not going to sit here and lecture, be smug, and certainly not argue, but... look, just let 1% of your ICED up brains be open to the following:

- Almost everything everyone writes about electric cars, particular in a place like this, is not based on the experience of owning one.

- That all those myriad of fears don't necessarily come true. I do sympathise - I used to have those fears also.

- That there are enormous pros to driving an electric that never, ever, get discussed. Try considering the upsides for once. They're huge :)

Scaredy cats ;)

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I drive a tesla. I feel this gives me an interesting insight on this thread, and the opinions people hold on this topic in general. I'm not going to sit here and lecture, be smug, and certainly not argue, but... look, just let 1% of your ICED up brains be open to the following:

- Almost everything everyone writes about electric cars, particular in a place like this, is not based on the experience of owning one.

- That all those myriad of fears don't necessarily come true. I do sympathise - I used to have those fears also.

- That there are enormous pros to driving an electric that never, ever, get discussed. Try considering the upsides for once. They're huge :)

Scaredy cats ;)

it is an important issue though. firstly perhaps its a case that people will have to change their habits buy you cant say its not a problem.

but secondly, its all well and good to have 1000's of people knowing how to look after their car but when it comes to the millions, its needs to be easy to use and not cost a bomb if people simply forget to charge their car.

people forget to put oil in the car, they put the wrong type of fuel in, they dont always maintain their car perfectly, so cars need to be robust enough to handle issues like this for the mainstream market.

if you want it to be adopted by the mainstream its got to be suitable for the mainstream.

Edited by mfp123

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The fact that Nissan got round the problem adds to the case that Tesla made a mistake. 40k is still a lot of money even if your car cost 100k. I accept that the Tesla is a rich geeks car - for "early adopter" types who get off on the technology - so in reality it might well be a non-issue.

The Nissan Leaf is not a performance car, designed to rival Porsches and Ferraris.

And, it has a few of it's own problems:

http://www.autoblog.com/2011/04/11/report-nissan-leaf-owners-experiencing-restart-problems/

And they also like to blame the customer when there's a problem:

http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-03-years-nissan-leaf-battery-issues.html

Glass houses, stones and all that ;)

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I drive a tesla.

- Almost everything everyone writes about electric cars, particular in a place like this, is not based on the experience of owning one.

Irrelevant. I have an opinion on loads of things I don't own.

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I drive a tesla. I feel this gives me an interesting insight on this thread, and the opinions people hold on this topic in general. I'm not going to sit here and lecture, be smug, and certainly not argue, but... look, just let 1% of your ICED up brains be open to the following:

- Almost everything everyone writes about electric cars, particular in a place like this, is not based on the experience of owning one.

- That all those myriad of fears don't necessarily come true. I do sympathise - I used to have those fears also.

- That there are enormous pros to driving an electric that never, ever, get discussed. Try considering the upsides for once. They're huge :)

Scaredy cats ;)

Could you be more concrete please?

BTW I'm not trying to pick a fight - I'm genuinely interested (I haven't owned a car of any description since the 90s)

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The Nissan Leaf is not a performance car, designed to rival Porsches and Ferraris.

And, it has a few of it's own problems:

http://www.autoblog.com/2011/04/11/report-nissan-leaf-owners-experiencing-restart-problems/

And they also like to blame the customer when there's a problem:

http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-03-years-nissan-leaf-battery-issues.html

Glass houses, stones and all that ;)

OK the Nissan has other problems - but it seems that they got round the problem in question (the one that costs the owner 40k if it ever occurs)

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I drive a tesla. I feel this gives me an interesting insight on this thread, and the opinions people hold on this topic in general. I'm not going to sit here and lecture, be smug, and certainly not argue, but... look, just let 1% of your ICED up brains be open to the following:

- Almost everything everyone writes about electric cars, particular in a place like this, is not based on the experience of owning one.

- That all those myriad of fears don't necessarily come true. I do sympathise - I used to have those fears also.

- That there are enormous pros to driving an electric that never, ever, get discussed. Try considering the upsides for once. They're huge :)

Scaredy cats ;)

Good on you for owning one.

I can't afford a Tesla (or frankly any brand new car) so i'll just have to be a hypocritcal EV enthusiast who doesn't put his money where his mouth is for a few more years yet.

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I bought a new Saab convertible in 2000 and told myself the next car I would buy new would be electric. I still have the Saab.

When there is an electric car with LiPo (Lithium Polymer) batteries, or something with the same charge capacity, that also has a backup petrol generator I'll lay out my money, but not yet.

I'd like 250-350 miles on a charge with the backup generator to rescue me if I travel to the Outer Hebrides and run out of charging points.

It will come, all electric cars people buy today will have computer like depreciation over the next 5 years, by 2017-20 the technology will be 'done', but its not there yet except for city dwellers with charging points in every borough.

+1 but by 2020 and beyond the tax on electric used in cars will probably be as high as the tax on petrol now.

Edited by motch

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