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Will Tesla’s “Brick” Force New Battery Strategy?

Is maker squeezing too much out of its lithium power pack?

by on Feb.24, 2012

Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk, shown here .with the Tesla Roadster.

Top Gear officials defend their criticism of the Tesla Roadster - shown here with Tesla founder Elon Musk.

When Max Drucker paid over $100,000 for his Tesla Roadster he expected a sleek and speedy sports car, not a brick.  But that’s apparently what he’s stuck with.  After failing to heed warnings about not letting the charge of the battery in his 2-seat electric vehicle get too low the lithium-ion pack completely discharged and is now about as useful as, well, a lump of clay.

News of the problem surfaced this week on the technology website The Understatement, blogger Michael Degusta claiming he has been contacted by five Tesla Roadster owners whose sports cars have been “bricked,” tech-slang for a battery that is now deader than the proverbial doornail.

The California battery car start-up is dismissing the reports and largely putting the blame on its owners for failing to heed its warnings.  But while Tesla may be technically – and legally – accurate — that seemingly cavalier approach is problematic at several levels.

The Final Word!

With the maker getting ready to go mainstream with this year’s planned launch of the Model S sedan, it raises serious concerns about how Tesla will treat buyers even less familiar with lithium battery power than the early adopters who purchased the Roadster.  It also underscores concerns about Tesla’s basic battery strategy, which relies on using virtually every possible watt that can be stored in a LIon pack.  Competitors like Nissan, General Motors and Toyota are consciously designing their vehicles to maintain a “pad” to prevent catastrophic battery discharges.