Plug It In

Tesla Motors, February 24, 2012

A single blogger is spreading a rumor about electric vehicles becoming inoperable. “Bricking” is an irrational fear based on limited information and a misunderstanding of Tesla’s battery system. Here is why the rumor is unfounded:

Of the many pleasures that Tesla owners have, one of the most appreciated is nearly worry-free maintenance of their vehicles. As an owner, you no longer have to worry about constant oil changes, exhaust checks, or spark plug replacements. You can drive it for many years by simply plugging it in when needed, and performing maintenance once a year. If anything goes wrong, call us. We’re always happy to hear from our owners. Tesla routinely provides exceptional service that is above and beyond what people have come to expect.

In return, we ask that you remember to charge it. 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.

Even in cases of neglect, the latest Tesla batteries are industry leaders. The earliest Roadsters will take over two months to discharge if parked at a 50 percent charge without being plugged in. From that starting point, Tesla has consistently innovated and improved our battery technology. For example, a Model S battery parked with 50 percent charge would approach full discharge only after about 12 months. Model S batteries also have the ability to protect themselves as they approach very low charge levels by going into a “deep sleep” mode that lowers the loss even further. A Model S will not allow its battery to fall below about 5 percent charge. At that point the car can still sit for many months. Of course you can drive a Model S to 0 percent charge, but even in that circumstance, if you plug it in within 30 days, the battery will recover normally.

All cars require a certain amount of attention to perform properly. If you drive a gasoline engine with no oil it will fail completely and need to be replaced. The same happens if you drive without sufficient coolant or a broken fan belt and don’t heed the warning signs displayed by the car. At Tesla, we provide many redundant visual and audible warnings if your battery ever needs attention. And from Roadster 2.0 and beyond, your Tesla can even let us know it needs your attention. If that happens, we simply contact you and suggest you charge your car.

Owning a Tesla is easy. We design our cars to require minimal maintenance and have included many ways for the car to take care of itself. We have also continually advanced our technology with each new model released. Model S and Model X will have batteries that can sit unplugged for over a year when parked with only a 50 percent charge. And when that year is up, all you need to do is plug it in.