Tesla Motors downplays threat of 'brick' problem

Tesla Motors Inc. is downplaying the claim that the batteries in its all-electric vehicle lineup could be rendered useless if left for an extended period of time without a charge.

The response comes after blogger Michael DeGusta wrote an entry describing a situation where several of the $100,000 Tesla Roadsters' batteries were left uncharged.

The result was an estimated $40,000 repair bill, as the owners had no choice but to replace the entire battery or be left with a "brick." The repair is not covered under the vehicle's warranty.

"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," Tesla said in a statement.

The Tesla Roadster's owners manual states that it should take approximately 11 weeks for the battery to completely discharge.

"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," the statement from Tesla continued.

But DeGusta argues that many airports, or places of interest, do not have the battery charger required, and that the engine must be charged 100 percent to perform at that level.

"Owners of Roadster 2.0 and all subsequent Tesla products can request that their vehicle alert Tesla if SOC 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," it said.

A service team member reportedly told DeGusta that part of Tesla's "customer experience" includes instances when staff have remotely activated a dying vehicle's GPS after being unable to reach the driver. The company then dispatches a service member to the location of the vehicle to attend to it.

The company allegedly does not broadcast this type of customer service.

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