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 |  Feb 22 2012, 1:13 PM

The term “bricked” is often used with smartphones and other devices that can become completely unusable and are essentially, well… just a brick. To hear that terminology being used by an automaker is a little disconcerting, especially when that automaker sells cars that cost over $100,000.

If the battery is ever completely discharged in a Tesla electric vehicle, the unfortunate owner is left with what the American automaker describes as a “brick”. That’s right, your $100,000-plus electric sports car can become a completely immobile vehicle that can’t be started at all unless you fork over $40,000 to have its entire battery replaced.

And the worst part of it all, Tesla’s factory warranty or any typical car insurance policy would not cover this. Tesla has apparently been downplaying the severity of the situation but apparently they have been working hard behind closed doors to prevent this from occurring more often – even possibly engaging an owner’s GPS tracking of a vehicle without their consent or knowledge.

Essentially a Tesla Roadster can fully discharge in 11 weeks of no usage, from a full 100-percent charge. Reports are coming in that if the vehicle is driven nearly its maximum range and is left unplugged, it could become bricked in as little as a week. So once the Tesla battery completely discharges, it cannot be recovered or recharged, which leads to the $32,000 bill to purchase a new one plus the labor, taxes, and installation charges bringing it closer to $40,000.

A regional service manager for Tesla has gone on the record to say that he is aware of at least five vehicles that have become bricked due to battery depletion. If reports of this issue becomes more public and widespread, Tesla could be in for a rough ride in damage control. Here is their response to the initial public reports:

“All automobiles require some level of owner care. For example, combustion vehicles require regular oil changes or the engine will be destroyed. Electric vehicles should be plugged in and charging when not in use for maximum performance. All batteries are subject to damage if the charge is kept at zero for long periods of time. However, Tesla avoids this problem in virtually all instances with numerous counter-measures. Tesla batteries can remain unplugged for weeks (even months), without reaching zero state of charge. Owners of Roadster 2.0 and all subsequent Tesla products can request that their vehicle alert Tesla if SOC falls to a low level. All Tesla vehicles emit various visual and audible warnings if the battery pack falls below 5 percent SOC. Tesla provides extensive maintenance recommendations as part of the customer experience.”

Later this year, Tesla plans to begin selling its newest car, called the Model S. With a possible range of up to 300 miles and a 0-60 time of 5.6 seconds, entry level models will be priced from a more attainable $57,400 (before tax credits).

[Source: theunderstatement via Engadget]