It's true that electronics and water are a poor mix, which is why we expect electric cars to be well protected against the elements. That wasn't the case according to a couple from Scotland, who say they were presented with an enormous repair bill after driving their Tesla through a rainstorm.
As covered by Edinburgh Live, the couple had driven the vehicle during recent torrential rains in the Scottish capital. Having driven the Model 3 to a restaurant for dinner, the car would not run when the couple went to drive home. The car was picked up after a five-hour wait for roadside assistance, and taken to Tesla Edinburgh for repair. After a few days, the couple was contacted and advised that the battery was damaged due to water ingress. That came with an astonishing bill of £17,374 ($21,166 USD) that would not be covered under the car's eight-year warranty.
The car's owners, Johnny Bacigalupo and Rob Hussey, told Edinburgh Live that they were shocked by the figure, and pressed Tesla as to how the problem occurred. Bacigalupo says they were told that the battery had effectively been submerged in water.
Ultimately, Bacigalupo says the automaker put the blame on Scotland's climate. "After finally getting to speak to a manager, he told me it had water in it due to the fact the weather in Scotland has been so bad. That was the issue," said Bacigalupo, adding "They said it’s not necessarily my fault but it’s not Tesla’s to pay under warranty."
Generally, most vehicles won't perform well when driven through deep, standing water. However, the average road vehicle is expected to withstand a regular rainstorm without complaint. Bacigalupo doesn't recall driving through any large puddles and raised questions as to the vehicle's suitability for the rainy Scottish landscape. "I said to the manager, ‘So, my understanding is, Teslas are unfit for purpose in Scotland?'" said Bacigalupo. According to Edinburgh Live, a Tesla customer relations email has stated that a complaint has been registered and will be investigated, with a response forthcoming.
Beyond the car's initial failure, there are also questions regarding the cost of the repair. As noted by Business Insider, a Twitter post from Tesla CEO Elon Musk in 2019 stated that replacing battery modules in the vehicle would only cost around $5,000 to $7,000. Of course, that was several years ago, and there is also the prospect of greater damage to other parts of the battery pack as well. Regardless, it's a figure that many owners would consider unacceptably high.
Getting told that an EV requires a new battery is a fear many EV owners hold. Whether it's due to damage or wear from normal use, nobody wants to face the giant replacement bill this usually entails. Owners thus expect automakers to deliver vehicles with sturdy batteries that can handle the rigors of regular driving, even in poor weather. While it's unclear exactly how the battery came to harm in this case, it was clearly a weak excuse for a Tesla representative to try and blame the weather.
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