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Tesla Removes Mileage Limits On Drive Unit Warranty Program 174

Posted by timothy
from the 90-percent-of-the-cost-of-my-entire-car dept.
Ars Technica reports that Elon Musk today wrote that Tesla will remove mileage limits on its warranty policy for all Tesla Model S drive units. The warranty, which will still span eight years, won't have a cap on the number of owners for each vehicle. People who purchased Teslas before today were told that the warranty period for the drive unit expired after eight years or once the car logged over 125,000 miles. The revised warranty applies to new vehicles and Model S cars that are already on the road. The article mentions that quite a few Tesla owners have had to have their drive units replaced; out of warranty, that runs about $15,000. Musk's announcement acknowledges that the change may cost the company some money, but says he's "confident it will work out well in the long run."
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Tesla Removes Mileage Limits On Drive Unit Warranty Program

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  • by sinij (911942) on Friday August 15, 2014 @07:16PM (#47682417) Journal
    So there is a problem and they are avoiding recall?
    • by rmdingler (1955220) on Friday August 15, 2014 @07:24PM (#47682449)
      No sir.

      There's a problem and they're handling it immediately and responsibly,

      instead of pursuing the GM/Toyota strategy of ignoring it and hoping it goes away.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 15, 2014 @08:25PM (#47682665)

        No sir.

        There's a problem and they're handling it immediately and responsibly,

        instead of pursuing the GM/Toyota strategy of ignoring it and hoping it goes away.

        GM hardly ignored their problem - they actively tried to cover it up, probably all the way back to 2005 or 2006, maybe even with government help, especially once they became Government Motors:

        GM Misses Red Flags From Rental Car Canaries on Crashes [bloomberg.com]

      • Actually, GM/Toyota waited till the body count was significant enough to consider; public record.
    • Things failing after the warranty period is not a problem, as that is expected end of life time.
      • by sinij (911942) on Friday August 15, 2014 @08:06PM (#47682601) Journal
        $15000 is within realm of new "crate engine", needing that at only 125,000 miles would be considered a serious quality defect with a traditional auto. If memory serves me right, most recent example was BMW nikasil engine block issue.
        • by Ted Cabeen (4119) on Friday August 15, 2014 @10:03PM (#47682967) Homepage

          The $15k charge is a theoretical charge back-calculated from insurance settlements. It does not include any core rebate for returning the old drive train. Since no owner has owned the car for even the current 4 year warranty, we have no information on what Tesla would charge for a drive train replacement, swap or any other non-accident generated repair.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by beelsebob (529313)

          Not really, in fact, 125,000 miles is a pretty long way after you'd expect to see major issues with most of the seals on the engine, and quite possibly complete failure on some cars.

          • by sinij (911942)
            In North America expectations are to have 100K without having to do anything more than oil changes, and 250K+ with some gaskets replaced is common. Now, these are mostly highway miles driven at a steady speed.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Kjella (173770)

      If it came through the warranty period alright, I don't see that there's any problem. Tesla has probably just figured out this hits relatively few but heavy users and ambassadors who'll be happy to get a new battery instead of being hit with a $15,000 bill and continue driving sales. After all, 125,000/8 = 15,625 miles is more than the average US driver goes per year (13,476 miles) and Teslas have probably not been bought by those making regular long hauls.

      It does create a rather perverse incentive to drive

    • by Lumpy (12016) on Friday August 15, 2014 @08:45PM (#47682711) Homepage

      Tesla is sending a message.

      Their message is, "we are not GM, we care about the customer instead of trying to ignore and rip off the customer"

      If a company stands behind their product they offer a very long life warranty. If they know their product is crap, you get a short warranty. There is a reason that GM cars come with 36,000 mile 3 year warranties..

      • by Sorny (521429) on Friday August 15, 2014 @09:22PM (#47682841) Homepage

        Tesla's Warranty is a bit better than what GM offers, true. However, it is not hugely better excepting the unlimited mileage for the powertrain, and 8 year battery warranty. That said, I've got some concerns with Tesla's battery warranty being that I live in MN.

        "In addition, damage resulting from the following activities are not covered under this Battery
        Limited Warranty:
        â Exposing the vehicle to ambient temperatures above 140ÂF (60ÂC) or below -22ÂF (-30ÂC) for
        more than 24 hours at a time;"

        That bit scares me. -22 F temps are normal for us in the winter, and I don't heat my garage. Thus, the car would be exposed to such temps for over 24hrs at least once a year. Kind of puts a crimp in my plans to buy a Tesla 3 when it comes out; I can already make the justification to buy a model S based on my driving needs, but I refuse to pay more in car payments than my mortgage.

        From Chevy's website:

        Warranty Coverage
        Bumper-to-Bumper (including tires):
        Coverage is for the first 3 years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first.
        Powertrain:
        Coverage is for the first 5 years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first.
        Sheet Metal:
        Corrosion coverage is for the first 3 years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first.
        Rust-through coverage is for the first 6 years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first.

        From Tesla:

        Subject to separate coverage for certain parts and the exclusions and limitations described in this
        New Vehicle Limited Warranty, the Basic Vehicle Limited Warranty covers the repair or
        replacement necessary to correct defects in the materials or workmanship of any parts
        manufactured or supplied by Tesla that occur under normal use for a period of 4 years or 50,000
        miles (80,000 km), whichever comes first.

        Supplemental Restraint System Limited Warranty
        Subject to the exclusions and limitations described in this New Vehicle Limited Warranty, the SRS
        Limited Warranty covers the repair or replacement necessary to correct defects in the materials or
        workmanship of the vehicleâ(TM)s seat belts or air bag system manufactured or supplied by Tesla that
        occur under normal use for a period of 5 years or 60,000 miles (100,000 km), whichever comes
        first.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          How difficult and expensive would it be to put rudimentary heating in your garage for just those (hopefully not too many) days per year that this would be a problem?

          Here in eastern Washington the temperature rarely gets that low (maybe once per decade) but I do a lot of work in my garage, fortunately as it is attached I just ran a four inch branch off the central heating and opened it about an hour before I wanted to work. It wasn't toasty, but it was bearable and added almost nothing to my heating bill.
        • by Ted Cabeen (4119) on Friday August 15, 2014 @10:18PM (#47683017) Homepage

          The -22F is not a problem, as long as the car is plugged in when left for prolonged periods. At well above that temperature, the battery management system will kick in and heat the battery to keep it within safe temperatures. Now, technically, they could probably disclaim coverage for that, but it seems unlikely if the battery management system does what it's supposed to do.

        • by Richy_T (111409) on Friday August 15, 2014 @11:50PM (#47683231) Homepage

          Actually, it sounds more like drive unit failures are happening more often than expected and are so expensive that it could cause them some serious bad press so they are eating the cost (which is likely actually a small fraction of what the out of warranty cost to the customer would be) of folding it into the warranty.

          Not that I'm ragging on Tesla or anything. I just think your analysis may be the reverse of the actual situation

        • by AaronW (33736)

          Assuming that the car is plugged in to charge at night it will heat the battery to keep the temperature at an acceptable level.

          • by Ol Olsoc (1175323) on Saturday August 16, 2014 @09:07AM (#47684271)

            Assuming that the car is plugged in to charge at night it will heat the battery to keep the temperature at an acceptable level.

            I wonder what people with gasoline and diesel vehicles do? Lessee.........

            Why, they use engine block heaters.

            They use battery heaters.

            They have outlets on parking meters to plug these devices in.

            Heck, before the weather warmed up, I had block and battery heaters on my vehicles in Pennsylvania.

            I've heard that once upon a time they would start small fires under diesel tractors to wam them up to start, but can't confirm that

            Or, they'd just leave them running all the time.

            So please spare us the idea that the Tesla is a precious little snowflake that cannot handle the cold like those big tough Internal combustion engines. At upper Minnesota temps, all vehicles need some thermal considerations.

            • by ultranova (717540)

              precious little snowflake

              I see what you did here.

              At upper Minnesota temps, all vehicles need some thermal considerations.

              To start, yes. And badly designed ones might need engine compartment airflow to be altered. However, if Tesla can be damaged by merely standing in the cold for too long, it might be a problem.

              Also, let's not forget that IC engines get heating for free from their waste heat. An electric car needs to use its precious battery charge to keep the windows clear. So colder locations might need

              • by AaronW (33736)

                Tesla also uses waste heat from the inverter and electric motor. A gasoline powered car also gets less milage in very cold weather. Tesla loses 15-20% of the range in very cold climates which is not all that significant.

                • by Ol Olsoc (1175323) on Sunday August 17, 2014 @11:53AM (#47689539)

                  Tesla also uses waste heat from the inverter and electric motor. A gasoline powered car also gets less milage in very cold weather. Tesla loses 15-20% of the range in very cold climates which is not all that significant.

                  Glad you brough that up. Cold weather plays havoc with gasoline, forcing the manufacturers to reformulate. The biggest change is addition of butanol, which will allow the engine to start in very cold weather. But butanol really wants to be in the gaseous state in warmer weather, and evaporates out of gasoline in the summer really quickly - a plastic gas can of winter grade gasoline gets rather "bulgy" in the summer. The butanol is a large part of why cars get less gas milage in the winter, often mistakenly totally attributed to ethanol. Ethanol has a gas milage penalty, also, before that gets added to the topic.

                  See, this is why I get really weary of all the hate bestowed on the Teslas. Any issue at all is amplified into ridiculous heights, in order to discredit them. We have a huge amount of infrastructure in place, and many accomodations made for internal combustion engines, including different fuel configurations just to keep the damn things running. At all, and the configurations are not terribly compatible. That winter gas will evaporate on you in the summer, and starting in -30 with a tankful of summer gas will have you running for the ether as your fingers get frostbit. Does the Tesla perhaps use a different form of electricity in different seasons?

                  But keeping that Tesla plugged in when it's really cold is just too damned inconvenient even when it's supposed to be plugged in to recharge anyway. When they need to plug in their internal combustion engine heaters also. Umm, the problem here? It's not the Tesla, it's people that hate them grasping at straws for talking points, and forgetting that their own favorite propulsion mechanism requires a whole lot of tweaking to keep running.

        • by Rei (128717)

          You live somewhere where daily highs in your garage below -30C are "normal" (implying highs of -40 to -50 outside)? Where do you live, the freaking moon? And you'd store your car suchly without plugging it in?

        • by AK Marc (707885)

          That bit scares me. -22 F temps are normal for us in the winter, and I don't heat my garage.

          Odd, in Alaska, nearly everyone had a heated garage. Though the difference between a garage at 55 and 75 is about $1000 a month, so they aren't kept toasty warm, they will still get the car out of -22 every 10 hours on work days.

        • by thegarbz (1787294)

          Interesting that your choice of car is entirely dependent in this case on a warranty.

          Warranties are great for covering manufacturing faults and shoddy products, that's about it. Based on what I'm hearing from Tesla they do not appear to be having much of an issue at all with their batteries. You certainly shouldn't expect a warranty to cover basic wear on the car, and a warranty to me shows only how much faith the manufacturer puts in their equipment.

          Example Hyundai had a horrendous shoddy reputation which

          • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)

            Interesting that your choice of car is entirely dependent in this case on a warranty.

            Only it isn't. Thes hoots simply hate the Tesla, and anything that is "bad" about it is simply grist for their mill when they shout The Tezla SUCKS and electic cars will never work!" in their little bubble.

            Yet they make complete fools of themselves.

            A Tesla catches fire - apparently no other car ever has

            Tesla batteries have considerations when temps drop well into the below 0 area - apparently internal combustion engines just start right up in that kind of cold. And on and on

            Even their reviewers have

          • by JonBoy47 (2813759)

            Actually, Hyundai, Kia and Mitsubishi all offer the 5/60 bumper/bumper and 10/100 powertrain warranties on all their new cars to this day. I dare say it hasn't translated to higher sales for Mitsubishi as effectively as it did for the Koreans.

            https://www.hyundaiusa.com/ass... [hyundaiusa.com]
            http://www.kia.com/us/en/conte... [kia.com]
            http://www.mitsubishicars.com/... [mitsubishicars.com]

      • by AK Marc (707885)
        Tesla looked at it and said "the costs of extending the warranty are likely low because the problems are low, so we can extend the warranty and still hit our warranty budget". The added press was, of course, considered, but they have been more reliable than people expected.
        • by TWX (665546)
          I see it as two parts, really...

          First part is that a car company has to satisfy the new-car buyer. That means the car must meet the needs of the first buyer and that the buyer be happy up to and including the end of their ownership in the car. Some new-car buyers will drive a car for a couple of years or through the end of payments and then sell, so those customers need the car to have strong resale value in the 2-7 year range.

          Other customers will drive a car until it's not economically viable to re
    • So there is a problem and they are avoiding recall?

      A problem doesn't have to be out of warranty to cause a recall. This move would not make a difference.

    • Why do you assume there is a problem? It sounds to me like their analysis shows that the drive units are performing so well that they can offer a less conservative warranty now. The impact that Musk mentions is about increasing the cash they need to have on hand to cover warranties for something unexpected. None of this implies that there is a problem...

      BTW, this is the second time that Tesla has increased the warranty coverage on the vehicles after they've been sold - When was the last time you heard of

  • by cosmin_c (3381765) on Friday August 15, 2014 @07:29PM (#47682469)
    ... that can be given that Elon Musk isn't one of the best humans out there? Let me elaborate a bit. In an age of chasing profits and cut-throat competition and where the most ruthless are getting rich, there are some people chasing another type of enrichment. And this comes after giving up on patents. I don't know this man, but it'd be an honour to shake his hand. I simply got nothing that could do justice. Nikola Tesla would indeed be proud.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You clearly have never had to deal with the Hell that is PayPal. He's still deep in the Karma hole for that one.

      • Which should not be underestimated. Paypal, as a matter of routine break the law separating people from their money so they can blackmail them for more information/linked accounts.
      • by IICV (652597)

        You clearly have never had to deal with the Hell that is PayPal. He's still deep in the Karma hole for that one.

        To be fair Musk left PayPal in about 2002, when they were acquired by eBay. The bullshittery started circa 2004.

    • And, like Disney, for example, 30 years after the founder dies, the corporation he left will be an example of soulless tincture of evil. Watching and waiting for this to happen to Apple next.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Did you just seriously compare Steve Jobs to Elon Musk?

        Steve Jobs wasn't exactly a saint. He redefined "walled garden". But if you're IN the walled garden, I can see how you'd be deluded in to thinking that's ok.

        • by mean pun (717227)

          Did you just seriously compare Steve Jobs to Elon Musk?

          Steve Jobs wasn't exactly a saint. He redefined "walled garden". But if you're IN the walled garden, I can see how you'd be deluded in to thinking that's ok.

          Is that the worst you can throw at Steve Jobs? He created a walled garden for iOS? He did indeed redefine the "walled garden" of game computers and mobile platforms of the time, but to make it far more accessible and affordable for developers. An some users prefer the walled gardens. They rightly feel more safe. This has nothing to do with delusions, brainwashing, or KoolAid, it is simply a choice. That's why there are condominiums in this world, and packaged tours, and restaurants. If don't like living in

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 15, 2014 @08:10PM (#47682621)

      I have enormous respect for Elon Musk, but don't mistake enlightened self interest for altruism.

      Musk is a very successful and brilliant business person. I just think he also understands that customers appreciate being treated with respect and integrity. It doesn't hurt that he clearly believes in building the best product(s) possible, relying on innovations to place him squarely ahead of the entrenched players (whether that's NASA/Boeing/ULA, or GM/Ford.) His particular brand of greed is good for nearly everyone, but don't mistake it for something other than greed.

      • Like Steve Jobs in that he delivered a product that people would like and provided excellent customer service. For all his personal flaws, it's leaders like him, Musk, and Ford that paved the way towards American exceptionalism. But the real take-away from these men isn't that they're rare, but that we all have the capacity to emulate them however small or big in the market; be it in a small town restaurant, or fortune 500 company. America, and the rest of the world for that matter could learn a lot from th

      • by Kjella (173770)

        Smart people can make a lot of money in fields that don't advance human civilization much, particularly not in science and technology. I don't think they're mutually exclusive, Henry Ford wanted to give the average American a car and turn a nice profit on doing it. Pardon me for saying so, but I think those are far more well deserved than developing another high frequency trading algorithm for Wall Street or something like that.

      • by Nemyst (1383049)
        The irony is how, in many ways, companies like Ford were much closer to Tesla back when they formed. I guess the question is, should Tesla survive Musk, whether history will repeat itself.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      More like damage control if you ask me.

      From an engineering standpoint though, how can you screw up a electric motor connected to a fixed one speed transmission?
      That Edmunds needed THREE replacement units within 30,000 miles.
      Let's not pronounce Henry Ford, the second coming, as yet.

      • by rmdingler (1955220) on Friday August 15, 2014 @08:33PM (#47682687)
        People fuck up.

        Things go unexpectedly wrong as a matter of course in everyday life, let alone in the midst of innovation, since redefining the norm is a process fraught with a high failure rate.

        Owning it, and retroactively covering models no longer affected by factory warranty? That's the kind of shit you can easily get behind.

      • Well there is quite a bit more equipment between the battery and electric motor. Not quite like the old days of controlling the speed with a rheostat. That said for $15K you could buy a brand new car or a pretty nice used one.

      • LOL. You should have read a bit more.
        2 of those were changed because edmunds THOUGHT that they MIGHT hear a rattle and that it was the drive unit. Basically, only one was real, and it was for the gearbox.
    • by jrumney (197329)
      He is trying to build up a company from nothing to compete with the big 3 in just a few years. Having rumors of expensive repair bills looming at the end of the warranty period is not conducive to building market share, so this is nothing more than a sensible business decision (assuming only a small minority of drive units are actually failing).
    • Well is commons sense what he is doing. You give the customer what they want and more and they will come back to you and give you moar. So do the opposite of what the big companies are doing.

    • looooooooool good troll man.

      ... that can be given that Elon Musk isn't one of the best humans out there?

      looooooooool

  • To make it clear (Score:4, Informative)

    by Ecuador (740021) on Friday August 15, 2014 @07:34PM (#47682497) Homepage
    Because the summary sort of makes it sound like a lot of people had to pay for a $15000 replacement: The article says that many people have had to change their drive unit. It does not say specifically that they had to change it out of warranty and out of pocket. Given how new the Model S is and that the existing policy was for 125,000 miles anyway, I suspect it would be very few if any that were adversely affected by the old policy. Musk says they have to stand by the word that electric motors are fundamentally more reliable and the cost to the company is the increase in reserves for dry units that they will need to cover the new warranty since it is applied retroactively.
  • by kqc7011 (525426) on Friday August 15, 2014 @07:49PM (#47682547)
    If it included the battery then that might mean something. As it is now, there is just a low percentage of every needing the coverage. No real cost to Tesla, lots of good P.R. but not much else.
    • Re:Battery (Score:4, Informative)

      by FuzzMaster (596994) on Friday August 15, 2014 @07:58PM (#47682577)

      If it included the battery then that might mean something.

      The 85 kWh battery is already warranted for 8 years and unlimited miles.

    • Actually, it was for the battery. Now it is the entire powertrain. The battery, the gear box; the motor; the inverter (which is with the drive unit).
      My guess is that down the road, they will change this to be 10-12 years, once it is realized that their work has high quality and will stand up far better than an ICE will.
  • by JoeyRox (2711699) on Friday August 15, 2014 @07:54PM (#47682563)
    If only other manufacturers would learn that stepping in front of an issue is always better than being run over by it, both for total cost and, more importantly, reputation.
  • by Gothmolly (148874) on Friday August 15, 2014 @08:27PM (#47682677)

    First we had the smug "NASA is boring, Elon Musk is awesome" article, and now this. If we hit 3 articles in 1 day, I think it becomes a national holiday!

    • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Friday August 15, 2014 @09:06PM (#47682785) Homepage

      Look you. It's hard to be a fanboi around here. First it was Apple, then Jobs had to go and die on us. Then it was Google which somehow managed to go all Evil in the space of a few years.

      There always were a few twisted folk who thought Gates was the second coming but we mostly ignored them except to use them as the butt of some pretty nasty jokes.

      Who else? Nokia? Blackberry? Motorola? H-P ???????

      So 'ol Elon shows up in a cool car and a rocketship. Man, that's pretty close to God hood around here. Car AND Rocket Scientist analogies.

      He's all we've got.

      • First it was Apple, then Jobs had to go and die on us.

        And there was the whole being a huge raging dick since the moment he was born and feeding off the the talent and innovation of others.

    • Gads, you must have REALLY lost major money on Tesla and Solar City by shorting them.
      The fact is, that this man is making a massive change to our society.
      I hate to think of what you would say about ppl like Einstein.
  • So they removed the mileage limit but they still have the time limit of 8 years.

    It's not like people are going to use a Tesla car to go cross-country driving. They have to charge the car after use and so has to remain near a viable charge station. So, the removing the mileage limit seems pointless.

    If they removed the time limit of 8 years, then it would be something.

    I don't see this as a big deal. Sure sounds good but the service centers probably realized that the mileage of the cars coming in for ser

    • First off, superchargers will cover America and Western Europe within another 1.5 years.
      Secondly, Tesla is coming out with a battery swap that will allow you to rent a battery that allows for 500 MPC, with a 90 second battery swap. Of course, when it is empty, it will either take another battery swap (costing as much as a tank of gas), OR it will take about 2 hours at a super charger for a full tank, or about 1 hour for 300-350 MPC. That would mean that you can do 800 miles with only a 1 hour stop. Not ba
  • The Model S has only been available for a couple years. It's really hard to imagine that many people have driven a Model S more than 125,000 miles.

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