Tesla Roadster owner's documentation, including warnings & restrictions on battery state of charge
From: Max Drucker
Sent: Sunday, February 12, 2012 11:33 PM
To: Elon Musk
Subject: Dead battery club
It was a pleasure to meet you at the X launch party and congratulations on such an amazing accomplishment with this vehicle and everything else of course. As a (somewhat) successful entrepreneur myself your work is inspiring and demonstrates with enough will just about anything can be built. I love my Roadster (#340, 13K miles) and have deposits down on Models S and X.
As I mentioned briefly at the party, my Roadster battery is dead and unrecoverable. I had left the car unplugged for just over two months. I had no idea I was putting the car at risk or obviously I would not be in the position I am in now. I am not in idiot. I moved into a short-term rental during my remodel and didn’t have a convenient place to plug in my Roadster. I parked it in my temporary garage and planned to drive it once I was back home with my HPC. Needless to say I am still in shock from the moment Bob Sexton called and said the battery was destroyed and asked me if I like a new one for $40K (cost + tax + labor). That was the “friends and family” price because I have been such a loyal supporter. There was nothing else Tesla could do for me.
This email is you is as much about my own self-interest as it is about my concern for current and future owners, Tesla, and the general market for electric cars. It is a major problem a new car buyer can be responsible for $40K+ of uninsurable damage to their car the moment they drive it off the lot. There is no way to insure yourself from such a devastating loss. It is simply not acceptable to sell a vehicle that can incur this type of financial damage without doing far more than you have done or doing to date to protect the buyer. I know there are at least four others with dead batteries and you can’t possibly expect these four will be the last. After the first customer Roadster battery died, I can’t possibly imagine how your company didn’t pick up the phone and personally speak to every Roadster owner and make it explicitly clear that they would definitely suffer a ~$40K loss if they left their car unplugged. Especially those pre-#500 that don’t have the built-in notification system, which is even worse since I understand that notification system has saved a lot of cars.
Your “too bad” policy is not going to work for the pending thousands of Model S owners. There will be a major public outcry when middle-class families trying to the do the right thing by purchasing a green car accidentally let their battery discharge and effectively total their car. This will could become a PR disaster for Tesla that could impact demand for electric cars for years to come. The market for electric car buyers becomes a lot smaller when people are afraid their battery might die and their car will become virtually worthless. There are way too many scenarios that can brick these cars without providing a way for customers to protect themselves. The pros/cons of owning electric vs gas starts to change pretty dramatically if people believe $40K is on the line.
I’ve attached a few suggestions that might mitigate some of these risks. I am truly concerned for the well-being of electric vehicle demand if your current policy of “sorry, you should have known better” doesn’t change.
I expect you or someone else from Tesla to contact me to discuss further. This is in no way acceptable or good business. I am not going to write this off as a $40K mistake and move on happily.