The recent stories of the Tesla Roadster “bricking” will likely cause owners of other electric vehicles to wonder whether they should worry. Our friends at AutoGuide managed to get commentary about measures in place that can prevent other EVs from becoming damaged like the Tesla.
A “bricked” car is a lot like a bricked gadget. It can’t and won’t turn on, and is essentially useless (unless you want to use it as a giant and expensive paperweight).
The story is that an owner let his Roadster die and left it uncharged for two months. The car then couldn’t be turned on or started, or re-charged. When the car was taken for repairs it was found that it would cost $40,000 to fix the vehicle.
It’s stated several times in the Roadster’s owner’s manual not to leave the vehicle discharged for an extended period of time. Specifically: “Situations may arise when in which you must leave your vehicle unplugged for an extended period of time. If this is the case, it is your responsibility to ensure that the battery does not become fully depleted.” Lastly, “Over-discharge can permanently damage the battery.” While it’s clear that owner negligence caused this damage, some blame can be put on the manufacturer to have more safety measures to protect the vehicle.
Nissan states that the Leaf cannot be fully discharged “thanks to an advanced battery management system designed to protect the battery from damage. One element of the battery management system is a failsafe wall that stops the battery from reaching absolute zero state-of-charge, even after a period of unplugged storage,”Steve Yaegar, Nissan’s technology communications manager said.
Still there are some warnings in the Leaf’s manual that advises owners to take proper care of its battery. One of the more conspicuous warnings says: “Avoid leaving your vehicle for over 14 days where the Li-ion battery available charge gauge reaches a zero or near zero (state of charge)”
When pushed, Yaegar skirted the issue of what would happen to a Leaf if a user ignored that advice.
While the Chevrolet has a gas generator to help keep the battery charged, what would happen if the battery is discharged completely? Nothing really. Chevrolet spokesperson Robert Peterson told us “This isn’t an issue for the Volt. The Volt uses only 10.4 kW of its 16 kWh battery. The rest of the battery space serves as a buffer to prevent overcharging or deep discharging.”
In the i’s warranty manual, Mitsubishi states that the standard warranty does not cover any damages to the Li-Ion battery resulting from “failure to keep the main drive lithium-ion battery charged during storage of the vehicle.”
John Arnone a representative from Mitsubishi, said that while the i battery can be fully discharged, if left for a long period of time it will still be able to be recharged by the usual means.
While it’s true that electric Smart cars aren’t really on sale (lease-only), a member of customer relations told us that the upcoming 2013 model shouldn’t encounter any issues if left discharged. She did warn us that it may take a bit longer to fully charge back up again though.
It’s clear that electric vehicles are in their infancy. Being able to drive about without paying for gas certainly is a huge benefit. However, just as is the case with a gasoline or diesel car, certain responsibilities come along with the package – and some of them are unique to electrified vehicles. For example, knowing about recharging, possibly the whereabouts of yet-limited charging infrastructure, and available electric range is all new. Needing also to be added to the list in some cases, if you’re not already mindful of it, would appear to be battery maintenance.