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From Autoweek: Adventures in new Technology: Tesla Model S-tranded

There was a time, not too long ago, when even some new vehicles wouldn’t start in the morning. Fortunately the vehicles were simple and the owners experienced enough to hit the starter with a hammer or push-start it. Open the hood on any modern new car and it’s a safe bet that the starter motor is not even visible.

Dealing with a disabled new electric vehicle is something else altogether. When Autoweek’s Rory Carroll was unable to remove the charging plug from his 2014 Tesla Model S test vehicle, a special Tesla Ranger (no joke) had to flown out to his house to help with the repair. The repair work kept the Tesla was stuck at Carroll’s home for two days and required parts to be shipped over-night from Japan California.

While the repair work was seemingly trivial, it was unlike anything ever performed on conventional car. I cannot recall a fuel hose nozzle ever being stuck in the gas filler, disabling the engine. This makes me think about the long-term costs of repair of electric vehicles. While the amount of maintenance is greatly reduced on EVs (no oil changes, to timing belts), it seems as though it will be the little things that will keep the EVs from moving. Chances are that there will be a lot of those little things too, and none of them will be cheap.


Currently there are "53 comments" on this Article:

  1. Mad_Science says:

    His suggestion that Tesla hook up with a national rental chain (not necessarily National(R)) would go far to take this from "CAR LEAVES ME STRANDED" to "Car broke, have loaner for two days while company fixed it". For the money they spent dealing with him, $150 worth of high-end rental car won't appreciably change the cost.

    In other news, a small-volume car from an independent manufacturer using new technology breaks? Not exactly shocking.

  2. Sjalabais says:

    Very odd problem, yet I hope the Tesla Ranger™ travels by thunder and lightning.

    Regarding EVs I am more concerned about batteries going bad and resale value.

  3. jeepjeff says:

    <img src="http://www.ridelust.com/wp-content/uploads/fail-owned-gas-nozzle-fail.jpg&quot; width=500>

    Quite the opposite on that leaving you stranded.

    • Scandinavian Flick says:

      Similar situation to the Tesla in this case, but with a more conventional fix.
      "Crap, the nozzle is stuck… Well fuck that, I got places to be!" *peels off*

  4. Rkw says:

    Maybe this is more about buying from a niche manufacturer than about electric vs. internal combustion.

    Speaking of complexity, I'd love a Hooniverse special feature on whether forced induction creates problems late in a vehicle's life. I am convinced that the engines can perform great at least through the warranty, but worry about heat, pressure and extra parts to fail at 125 or 150 thousand miles. The VW 2L turbo four and BMW turbo/twin-turbo six are of particular interest.

    • Mad_Science says:

      So would I.

      I have the feeling the current crop of forced induction + direct injection motors will be hit-and-miss. I know it's possible to design these systems with 300k mile service lives (see: diesel), but design flaws happen (see: BMW HPFP).

      From the Hooniverse perspective, failure modes, serviceability and replace-ability of parts is probably more relevant and interesting.

    • Rust-MyEnemy says:

      It's a valid question, and one that I'm looking forward to finding out the answer, specifically in the case of the Audi / VW AEB as fitted to mine. My experience with Diesel Benz engines (esp. OM542) tends to highlight problems with the periferals that govern the turbo rather than the turbo itself. E.G, if the oil-seal fails (common) you end up with damage to the inlet-port shut-off motor and things snowball from there. The only turbos we've replaced have died of oil starvation.

    • craymor says:

      I don't think it negatively affects the motor, matainance costs may be a bit higher, but my ole' 245TI had over 450K when the body finally failed on it, the motor and turbo were still going quite well, the mounting point for the clutch cable was what finally failed on it.

    • Maymar says:

      I'm a little skeptical at the prospect of buying any of the batch of new turbo cars, at least used. Not that I don't trust the technology, but I don't trust the push to sell it to the mainstream, that your average owner will take proper care of it.

    • P161911 says:

      There a reason you still see a ton a Malaise era V-8s on the road. A 165HP 7:1 compression 350 V-8 isn't exactly stressed. The lower rpms that you can use in daily driving the longer a car will last. Basic engineering/physics will tell you that a 8:1 compression ration large displacement V-8 that makes 300HP at 3500 rpm will last longer than a turbo 4 cylinder that makes 300HP at 6000 rpm.

  5. Rust-MyEnemy says:

    One thing that worries me about EV cars is the same thing that troubles me about cars with highly-tuned gas engines. I know at some point I'll pull into a garage and fill up with the wrong grade of electricity.

  6. jeremy![™] says:

    i would still buy one if i was in the market.

  7. e24tony says:

    After seeing one of these in the flesh, I don't care if it gives me a shock every time I get in the damn thing.

    Looks beautiful.

  8. Maxichamp says:

    I am going to the factory to pick up a new Model S with a friend. I think I get a factory tour. If you have any questions, let me know and I'll investigate.

  9. MVEilenstein says:

    I think Top Gear had it right: electric motors are fine, but batteries are not the future. Hydrogen is where the real advance in technology will happen.

  10. Garland says:

    Anybody know exactly how many of these things have been built/delivered? I saw one the other night (in Virginia) and was literally dumbfounded.

    I don't like electric cars (at all), but it's a striking sight to see one on the road.

  11. Van_Sarockin says:

    An interesting story, but not particularly surprising. New technology. New car model. You want it all to work perfectly all the time. But there will be glitches to fix. I am curious if the charging cord is using the new industry standard connecter design? It could be that there's a problem that's not just limited to the Tesla. There's also a fair chance that operator error may have been involved.

    • Felis_Concolor says:

      I recall reading Tesla's connector follows neither industry standard. Yes, that means there are now 3 modern EV plugs out there: Tesla; CHAdeMO; J1772.

  12. smokyburnout says:

    "I cannot recall a fuel hose nozzle ever being stuck in the gas filler, disabling the engine."
    Racing technology for the street! http://www.honda.com/newsandviews/article.aspx?id

  13. POLAЯ says:

    Maybe they filled it with Coal electricity instead of Nuclear?


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