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McBlog: On “Bricks” and Hand Pumps: Musings on New Technology.

Tesla’s battery problems provide a much-needed warning.

by on Mar.01, 2012

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

You break it that's your problem, says Tesla founder Elon Musk, shown here with a Tesla Roadster with a working battery.

Editor’s Note: Battery-carmaker Tesla has been roiled in controversy as it turns out customers can turn their car into a virtual “brick” by failing to keep the vehicle charged. We asked our intrepid correspondent, Denise McCluggage to muse on the risks of cutting-edge technologies.

New technologies — or new developments in old technologies – require their users to click out of their half-asleep automatic response and be consciously aware of the best way to deal with this new stuff. When the new patterns of response are tweaked to the most appropriate actions then it’s safe to revert to robot mode.

Click Here to Visit DeniseMcCluggage.com

From long ago I recall my country cousins on the family homestead had a hand pump on their kitchen sink. The town-kid in me thought this “new” thing was the cat’s pajamas. But then it was updated to mundane faucets much like we had. Star-shaped with “C” and “H” in the center.

The old hand pump simply stopped its intermittent gushing when whoever was pumping stopped pumping. And when the faucets were first installed I remember my cousins had to sometimes turn back to the sink to turn them off. But not for long. The new twist-off behavior quickly replaced the pump technology in their automation map.

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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.

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