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Flat Battery? Certainly we can fix it, sir. That will be $45,000.

Oh my God! How would you feel if you buy a new supercar, let the battery go flat and then get charged $45,000 to replace it?

Hmm. Not happy, Jan.

But that’s what’s happened to some owners of the new Tesla Roadster Electric Supercar.

The car costs around $200,000 in Australia, is fully electric, with a range in a single charge of 400kms. and will accelerate  to 100kph in under 4 secs. which sure is supercar territory.

In fairness the maker does make it clear that the battery must not reach full discharge and that there are numerous warning signals. Despite that some owners have had to face the unbelievable – ” I’ve got a brick!”, a totally immobile vehicle that cannot be started or even pushed to the side of the road.

The owner is forced to pay around $45,000 to replace the entire battery – and possibly a lot more if the car fails far from its home base in the USA, like the unfortunate owner who suffered severe shipping delays when he imported his car to Japan and it arrived with a flat battery! It seems that neither Tesla’s new car warranty nor normal car insurance policies provide any protection for the unfortunate owner.

The full story, including Tesla’s response can be seen here 

BUT HERE’S THE GOOD NEWS! That’s not symptomatic of electric cars, though keeping a charge in the battery is much like keeping oil in the engine or petrol in the tank for a normal car. The first experience that  local  buyers will have for an appoachably-priced electric car will probably be the Nissan Leaf, scheduled for sale this month. It has already been launched overseas and has had a launch event here, supported by a really interesting and award-winning ad campaign- World Without Petrol  (and it’s worth a click through), which will probably be used for the public launch in Australia.

THE GOOD NEWS is that if the battery does go flat it can be easily re-charged. There’s also plenty of warning that it’s running out of petrol-sorry, electricity. Finally, in some markets Nissan also offer a free ‘pick up and tow’ service, although that hasn’t yet been confirmed here (and Nissan HO were unavailable for comment). We’ll be telling you more about the new Nissan Leaf shortly, but it offers around 100-120 km range on a single charge, and it is expected that it will not need specialist charging points (it should be able to be done at home). It will be sold at a premium price to its petrol competitors at around $51,000.


  1. david milton says:

    The reason the Nissan Leaf cost around $51,000. in Australia, is because along with other added taxes, the Australian Federal Government add to the price, 3 years of petrol.[which you do not need] in the USA this car retails for US $35,200. I thought from July 1st 2012, we had to use Greener Products, at the Austalian price of $51.000, how is this going to help, this car should be sold here for $35, 200 to get the public to purchase them.

    David Milton.

    June 25th, 2012 at 1:53 pm

  2. Dave Williams. says:

    May I enquire what it costs to charge these electric vehicles over night. I’ve heard that heavy duty power points are required indicating a charge rate in excess of 2.4 Kw per hour. At a rate of 2,4Kw/H X 8Hrs X $0.29/Kwh ( post 6/2012 )…equals over $5.50 per night/charge. At todays petrol cost thats about 4.5l/100Km….so where’s the savings in dollars as a few modern cars can match that.
    Also, wouldn’t the nett carbon dioxide produced only be removed from the vehicle exhaust to the power generator..say Yallorn in Vic.

    June 25th, 2012 at 3:28 pm

  3. John Aquilina says:

    Don’t Complain David Milton,

    The mark up is levied on all imported cars. I just purchased a 2011 Mercedes Viano demonstrator – if I had bought it brand new it would have set me back between $86,000 to $93,000. With 4000km on it and 9months old it was a more affordable $76,000.

    But! If you bought the same car new in the UK its equivalent cost in Aussie dollars is between $59,000 – $69,000 (they have a wider range).

    I don’t believe there should be that much positive bias afforded to Electric cars. They are still basically unpractical, playthings for inner-city singles who don’t have to do a “weekly” shop for a family of five – I guess there’s plenty of room on the front seat for noodle takeaway.

    With power costs going through the roof, and knowing that close to 20% of all electricity generated is lost in the line transmission of electricity, I’m betting that Dave Williams is on the right track with his sums and questioning any true value of electric cars.

    But I guess if they are marketed to the same folk who believe a Carbon Tax is going to slow down non-existant global warming there will be a pretty big market of gullible car buyers out there.

    June 25th, 2012 at 6:56 pm

  4. Dean says:

    The whole man-made CO2 wrecking the atmosphere is a load of crock. Even the government with it’s “No carbon tax under a government I lead” Carbon tax doesn’t believe it. Otherwise they’d completely wipe all taxes off “green” cars. But they need as much money as they can get, so they keep the taxes and introduce a new one.

    June 25th, 2012 at 11:13 pm

  5. Carmel Morris says:

    Tesla use proprietary batteries and should have sufficient protocols in place to protect the pack with proper battery management (over voltage and discharge). I use Thundersky lithium phosphates in my own electric car conversion, purchased from Thundersky in China for $10k. They are cheaper now. My fuel guage is set to 33% remaining charge as ’empty’, since lithium chemistry lattice can break down at low charge. It still gives me 80 miles of charge for city driving. I visited work colleagues in the States last year, two of whom have Nissan Leafs. I had a play with this lovely car, they said it cost them $25k US delivered. There is no incentive in Australia for electric car owners. You simply look at London and San Francisco and other cities that have incentives and drop your head in shame about Australia. This supposed ‘energy conscious’ government are fast sending Australia into third world standards. btw, Thundersky says their lithium batteries can be recycled. Normally batteries don’t like fast recharge, but the tech is improving. I use my car everyday, road registered, and the kids love it. They just wish they had a radio control for it 🙂

    June 26th, 2012 at 6:32 pm