Thick as a Brick: The Tesla's 'Devastating Design Problem'

The slang term for rendering your laptop or cell phone inoperable is “bricking it.” Turning hundreds or thousands of dollars of electronics into an inert, brick-like state, which may cost a good chunk of change to fix — so much so that buying a new device might be the best bet.


That’s also a risk with the coal-powered uber-expensive Tesla electric car, according to Gawker-owned

Tesla Motors’ lineup of all-electric vehicles — its existing Roadster, almost certainly its impending Model S, and possibly its future Model X — apparently suffer from a severe limitation that can largely destroy the value of the vehicle. If the battery is ever totally discharged, the owner is left with what Tesla describes as a “brick”: a completely immobile vehicle that cannot be started or even pushed down the street. The only known remedy is for the owner to pay Tesla approximately $40,000 to replace the entire battery. Unlike practically every other modern car problem, neither Tesla’s warranty nor typical car insurance policies provide any protection from this major financial loss.

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Tesla Motors is a public company that’s valued at over $3.5 billion and has received $465 million in US government loans, all on the back of the promise that it can deliver a real world, all-electric car to the mainstream market. Yet today, in my opinion, Tesla seems to be knowingly selling cars that can turn into bricks without any financial protection for the customer.

Until there’s a fundamental change in Tesla’s technology, it would seem the only other option for Tesla is to help its customers insure against this problem. As consumers become aware that a Tesla is possibly just a long trip, a bad extension cord, or an accidental unplugging away from disaster, how many will choose to gamble $40,000 on that not happening? Would you?


Back in 2009, CNN reported that “The Obama Administration will lend Tesla Motors $465 million to build an electric sedan and the battery packs needed to propel it.” If the Jalopnik report is true, that’s yet more proof, as Rob Long wrote last month, “Obama is a terrible tech investor.  If the USA was a hedge fund, he’d be looking at a total collapse.”


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