Bricking A Tesla Roadster Battery: Today's Electric Car Meme

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2011 Tesla Roadster Sport. Photo by Joe Nuxoll.

2011 Tesla Roadster Sport. Photo by Joe Nuxoll.

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Heard of "bricking" yet? No? You will shortly.

It's the phenomenon in which the lithium-ion battery pack of an electric car that's left unplugged for a long period goes completely, utterly dead--to the point where it cannot be recharged, and becomes a large, expensive "brick."

[FURTHER UPDATE: Is Tesla 'Bricking' Story Just An Angry Owner's Warranty Claim?]

[UPDATE: Presented in handy Q+A form, here's our summary: The Real Story Behind The Scare.]

A post on the Understatement blog that ricocheted around Silicon Valley last night is about to break nationally.

Its author, Michael DeGusta, cheerfully describes himself as a "sporadic gadfly" and "possibly also a 'patronizing idiot', 'font hipster', and/or author of 'a tech blog'".

The post describes five alleged cases in which Tesla Roadster battery packs were left uncharged sufficiently long--or in one case, plugged in to a source that supplied insufficient power--that they bricked, leaving the owners with immobile $100,000 sports cars needing a five-figure pack replacement.

The post does not identify the owners, though it gives locations for some of them. We're in the process of tracking down at least one of the owners, and getting comments from Tesla Motors.

For the moment, let's just say that there are always two sides to every story--and that the story as told is missing some important facts.

Do you really think Tesla's personal sales process would hand over a $100,000-plus Roadster to its wealthy, demanding, often well-informed, and eager-to-be-evangelist customers without clearly explaining the risks?

Sure, they might not do so until they had the check in hand.

But we understand that in fact the Tesla owners had been quite clearly informed--and had acknowledged receiving a specific warning about treatment that could lead to bricking.

We'll have more soon. Stay tuned.

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