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


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#16 hedgefunded

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 08:50 AM

Electric cars are at least 10 years away from becoming viable IMHO.

They need to be:

1 - Recharged in minutes, not hours
2 - Six grand

#17 OnlyMe

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 09:13 AM

You can't stop any in battery self-discharge but you sure can prevent the main battery being flatten by any small loads from anciallry electronics like car security/lock detection mechanisms - simply isolate the main battery when car is switched off and power those subsystems off a small secondary battery - kill that not the main battery.
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#18 gadget

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 10:15 AM

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.


You're basically saying you'll never buy an electric car.

An electric car with 250 mile range doesn't need a range extender.

An electric car with a range extender doesn't need a 250 mile range.

It's like asking for a car that's left hand drive and also right hand drive (for driving on the continent). It's possible to make but It'll never be built.

So what are going to buy?

A Tesla Model S ( http://www.teslamotors.com/models)

Or a Chevy Volt / Vauxhall Ampera? (http://www.vauxhall-ampera.co.uk/ )

Edited by gadget, 25 February 2012 - 10:16 AM.


#19 Mr. Miyagi

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 10:41 AM

All lithium batteries have this problem if the battery falls below the minimum voltage. It is possible to revive them using a charging pattern for a Ni Cd/Ni Mh type battery until this reach a voltage that a lithium charging pattern will charge from. Although the risk is that the batteries will spontaneously combust :ph34r:

Modern R/C cars have being using lithium batteries for the last 4 years or so. Speed controllers used in them have been designed in such a way that when the battery is getting towards the minimum voltage all power is cut. Tesla should have this built in, no excuse really and an obvious design oversight.

#20 Mr. Miyagi

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 10:46 AM

LiPo batteries become useless over time anyhow, so the big question for me is not how a Ł40K battery can be damaged by user error (it IS a design fault IMO) but what happens a few years down the line when the battery has started to show weak cells?

Even allowing a 10 year life for the battery (I think I'm being kind), that's still Ł4K per year to replace.

Buckers


Exactly, R/C lipo batteries are generally guaranteed for a 1000 cycles or so, some fail long before that, some can be cycled more.

#21 Gone baby gone

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 10:57 AM

Shouldn't it start sounding a desperate alarm about a day or so before the end? After all Ł40k is about to be stolen ...


It does sound an alarm - weeks before IIRC, when it gets down to the few days left stage it actually contacts Tesla

The story is just nonsense from Clarkson-loving goons with no mind of their own. <_<

A plugged-in Tesla is not only charging its battery, it is also keeping key systems within the car functioning properly. Tesla owners around the world keep their cars charged on a daily basis without any issues at all. If ever the battery in your Tesla runs low, the car is designed to let you know with repeated visual and audible warnings. If you continue to ignore the warnings, they will persist and increase. The vehicle also protects the battery itself by communicating with other systems in the car to conserve energy when the state of charge gets too low. Starting with Roadster 2.0, owners can also elect for their car to contact Tesla headquarters once the state of charge falls below a specified level, and we can then contact the owner.



#22 SarahBell

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 10:59 AM

My OH got a new laptop and decided he'd power it by mains as he is always near a socket. Battery sat on the side for 6 months. Decided he needed it on battery for a day and the battery wouldn't charge. Interesting he got it to charge a few months later (Not sure how) but batteries are always a bad idea for anything important.
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#23 Gone baby gone

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 11:03 AM

My OH got a new laptop and decided he'd power it by mains as he is always near a socket. Battery sat on the side for 6 months. Decided he needed it on battery for a day and the battery wouldn't charge. Interesting he got it to charge a few months later (Not sure how) but batteries are always a bad idea for anything important.


Tell that to anyone with a pacemaker :rolleyes:

What you are saying is that your OH can't read a manual, and this unfortunate trait is compounded by having no understanding of how different battery technologies work.

#24 Joan of The Tower

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 11:07 AM

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)


Not convinced. If Nissan can sort it out, so can Tesla. Seems to be an analagous problem to a design flaw in a regular motor which could leave you with a big bill, eg VW water pump bearings can disintegrate which throws off cambelt and ruins engine on their 20 valve 1.8 from the late nineties, or BMW's Nikasil problems with high sulphur fuel in the 90s.

The instances may be rare, but it is the sort of flaw that ought to have been ironed out. I'm not sure you need to go into the eleccy/fossil fuel debate- it's just a question of design.


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#25 rxe

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 11:08 AM

It does seem a bizarre oversight, given the complexity of modern battery management systems. It would be pretty simple to do it- even my lithium bike light shuts down when it gets too low, and won't come on again until it is charged.

I can see that it is a pretty rare event when the car is charged, but I can easily imagine rushing home to go on holiday, parking up, then clearing off for 2 weeks, only to find a dead car when I got home.

Looks simple enough to fix - a firmware upgrade in the battery management system should fix it.

#26 gadget

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 11:11 AM

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.

#27 Si1

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 11:26 AM

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

#28 davidg

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 11:34 AM

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.

#29 aSecureTenant

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 11:42 AM

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


Inductive roads been considered:


http://www.gizmag.co...the-road/12874/

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#30 ChumpusRex

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 02:58 PM

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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