Here's a new worry for electric car owners: bricking your new, expensive ride.

Using a word taken from the computer world, to "brick" an EV means to make your electronic device inoperable. In the case of an EV, it would mean to run the battery state of charge so far down that nothing works anymore, thus requiring an expensive flatbed tow and an even more expensive battery pack – about $40,000 in a Tesla Roadster.

This is the charge of Michael Degusta, who wrote a detailed post on the matter in which he claims there have been five cases of Roadsters being bricked that he knows about. Since this is the first we've heard about it (and we imagine all those Silicon Valley Roadster owners know a thing or two about Internet communication), we're surprised we didn't hear about this before the alleged problem claimed five non-working cars. Thus, we figure there's more to the story, especially since some people are already poking holes in some of Degusta's statements. We've emailed Degusta and asked him to provide further proof of and details about these bricked cars, but he has not responded yet.

For its part, Tesla has offered AutoblogGreen a fairly noncommittal statement on the matter:

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. 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. 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's also true that all vehicles will require some attention if they sit unused too long, and people know what happens if you leave your laptop unplugged for two weeks. In the owner's manual for the Roadster 2.0/Roadster Sport, Tesla does say that "Over-discharge can permanently damage the Battery" and that "If storing for more than 15 days, it is strongly recommended that you keep it plugged in" (see the full section on "Leaving the vehicle unplugged" after the jump, or download the manual in PDF here), but it doesn't specify what sort of damage that is, or how expensive it might be to fix it. Tesla spokesman Ricardo Reyes did tell AutoblogGreen that he is working to demystify the situation and will get back to us with more information.
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[Page 5-2] Even when you're not driving the vehicle, the Battery will slowly lose its charge. Therefore, when you're not using the vehicle, you should leave it plugged in. However, situations may arise in which you must leave the vehicle unplugged for an extended time (for example, at an airport when travelling for a couple of weeks). If this is the case, it is your responsibility to ensure that the Battery does not become fully depleted. Charge the Battery to a maximum level before leaving it. Keep in mind that when the vehicle is left unplugged with a full Battery, the initial rate of decline can be significant. When fully charged, the Battery's charge level can drop as much as 7 within the first week. When the Battery's charge level falls below 50 per week. Over-discharge can permanently damage the Battery.

If for some reason, you are unable to keep the vehicle plugged in when it is not being used, it is up to you to preserve battery life by paying attention to the charge level and the temperature (see bulleted list below). If leaving your vehicle unplugged for more than 24 hours, follow these do's and don'ts to avoid prematurely decreasing the life of your vehicle's Battery:

• DO leave the vehicle plugged in whenever possible.
• DO maintain at least a15% charge level in the Battery if leaving it unplugged for more than 48 hours.
• DO charge the Battery to a full charge before leaving it unplugged. This maintains the charge level needed to keep the Battery's electronics operational. If storing for more than 15 days, it is strongly recommended that you keep it plugged in.
• DO NOT expose an unplugged vehicle to ambient temperatures below -20°F (-29°C) or above 120°F (49°C.


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  • 183 Comments
      ajt1025
      • 2 Years Ago
      If you can afford the car I guess you can afford the up keep. Not my cup of coffee.
      jdhegnes
      • 2 Years Ago
      I don't like elecric cars at all, but why do you consider Tesla's answer noncommittal? Their answer is very straightforward and complete - don't do it! If you're too dysfunctional to charge the batterries, you probably will run your gasoline engine out of oil too. A century ago, you would have forgotten to feed your horse. The price of the batteries does explain why the Tesla seems to be inordinately expensive, and why electric cars will have an uphill battle for acceptance. I will buy one when the last drop of fossil fuel has been burned - maybe. Hopefully, we will have dumbed ourselves out of existence by then. No sense in looking at population control, mass transportation or railroads first.
      myammer
      • 2 Years Ago
      anyone who can afford that car, well....drive like sport, PAY like a sport...probably a collector who has the car in storage
        jdhegnes
        • 2 Years Ago
        @myammer
        Which probably explains the battery problem.
        Paul Bardinas
        • 2 Years Ago
        @myammer
        Absolute rubish! My Leaf's each cost around $32,000 after tax credits. You can lease or purchase. I'm saving around $1500/year vs standard compact gas car. No oil changes or filters. No tune ups. After ten years see what the average gas car will cost in maintenance or costly repairs from transmission or engine failure. Almost anyome CAN afford these cars. Just do the math.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      Relevant Data
      • 2 Years Ago
      There will be nothing in the near future that will ever replace the efficiency of the liquid gas that we have been using for the past 100 years or so.
      Jim
      • 2 Years Ago
      I changed out the battery in my 12 year old pick two times at about $100.00 for each. Took about 15 minutes of downtime. Good luck.
      monza866
      • 2 Years Ago
      My 99 camry ran for 12 years and 233,000 miles with 30-35 MPG and I paid $16k for it. No $40k battery packs to fail and no worry of charging. Would still have it if a deer didn't run into it.
      primess991
      • 2 Years Ago
      Nicola Tesla used to say? “We must be able to transmit things from other places over long distances… pictures, the news, energy… why not matter too? We must liberate thought from its limitations imposed by space and time, and yet keep its characteristics. This will be possible in the next decades or centuries.” magnetic generator : It’s just like a usual magnetic generator but rather than utilizing gasoline it’ll strap up the power of magnet magnetic fields. A standard generator would burn gasoline and utilize that energy toward a turbine that creates electricity. On the other hand, homemade magnetic generator locates magnets on around the turbine maintaining it spinning with no use of additional fuel basis to make it extremely cheap and permits it to run many years without stopping.
        OSHP367
        • 2 Years Ago
        @primess991
        Yet another person who believes in perpeutal motion......on sale on Ebay soon!
      rpaul20988
      • 2 Years Ago
      Any battery when in use can be run to zero and that is what most avoid saying. They do say keep then plugged in when not in use, but just where do you plug it? The $7,500.00 we pay that is going up to $10,000.00 is only on the GM Volt (Government Motors) and it is showing to be the most expensive out there with the $7,500 tax payers are paying for them and the worst of the cars. Running gas prices up makes the electric car look good for the administration, but how do you charge that expesive car most of us cant efford to buy? You got it, electric power that will shoot up and we cant then efford to charge that damn car. No sourse of power to make electricity is exceptable to Obama right now. Wind failing, solar a bust and cant burn coal or gas so?
        Paul Bardinas
        • 2 Years Ago
        @rpaul20988
        Here’s a primer based on facts not this fiction. Nissan Leaf gives audible and visual warnings when battery is low. Also has failsafe eco mode that helps extend range to get driver to a plug. Only an idiot would keep driving past all this and drain battery dead. Same idiot probably never changes his oil. Nissan will give you free tow if that happens and battery is guaranteed. Battery retains 80% capacity after 10 years. Battery can then be reused in homes to store backup power from solar and wind systems. You save around $2,000/year on gas, more if you drive an SUV now. No oil changes, no filters, no emissions tests. Even if you use power from a coal plant that energy and emissions are 60% less than burning gas. Most people charge the car at night during off-peak times when the power grid actually suffers from over capacity. Charging the car would actually help utilize the system better. I own 3 Leafs and never had any problem. My best range 120 miles on a charge. Price $32,000 after tax credit of $7,500. You can lease or purchase. George Bush offered credits and rebates up to $7500 for trucks. People need to test drive a Leaf, do some homework, get the facts, and stop believing the scare tactics used by the oil industry to keep you hooked on their product. ExxonMobil… $30 billion in profits for 2011. Gas today around $3.75 and climbing. Under Bush, they hit over $4.00 in 2008.
      LLB
      • 2 Years Ago
      That is why the Chevrolet Volt has a backup gas engine that runs a generator which in turn charges the batteries. This also make the range of the vehicle unlimited since you can charge with gas if need be. If you are thinking Electric Vehicle I would choose a Volt.
      paul
      • 2 Years Ago
      What is the point of this article? The only major hurdle facing electric cars is drivers that are idiots? Every car manufacturer must deals with the .01% of drivers that are idiots and ignore flashing lights, common sense and end up screwing up their cars.
        glduff
        • 2 Years Ago
        @paul
        Well if the drivers are the only problem I guess I'll be able to dump my F-350 and hitch my trailer to a Volt Monday morning. Might make it to the end of the driveway.
      stocky84
      • 2 Years Ago
      anandaone has it right, but if only 10% of the cars on the road were electric, the power grid can't support them and ALL of our electricity rates would go up.
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