Seeking Alpha

Tesla Motors upgrades wall chargers

  • Tesla Motors (TSLA -3%) says it will upgrade wall charger adapter units to current customers in order to provide another layer of protection against fires related to the charging process.
  • The new charger will have an automatic shut-off in the case of over-heating.
  • Shares of Tesla are skittish today with the fire issue teed up again despite the automaker providing what might be considered a remedy.
From other sites
Comments (42)
  • Dan Fichana
    , contributor
    Comments (1920) | Send Message
     
    I see this as a positive for customer service.

     

    So with the charger/wall issue there was no conclusion from the fire investigation that it was 100% the charger, but just in case Tesla sends out replacement chargers.

     

    instead of stonewalling, blaming the customers, fighting with the NHTSA, or waiting for another to happen, they replace it free of charge. That is how a good business operates and maintains a loyal customer base.

     

    The other OEMs could learn from that kind of service.
    10 Jan, 01:33 PM Reply Like
  • Cassina Tarsia
    , contributor
    Comments (647) | Send Message
     
    Good comment, Dan! I agree completely. I haven't yet been notified by Tesla that this will be happening, but I am sure that it won't take long to happen. The upgrade in the car happened almost immediately, so this one will go ahead as fast as they can, I am sure.
    10 Jan, 01:52 PM Reply Like
  • Cassina Tarsia
    , contributor
    Comments (647) | Send Message
     
    I just saw over the Market wire that Elon Musk said that these wall charger adapters will be sent out to car owners within the next two weeks.
    10 Jan, 02:38 PM Reply Like
  • Logical Thought
    , contributor
    Comments (4599) | Send Message
     
    >>...Tesla sends out replacement chargers. instead of stonewalling, blaming the customers, fighting with the NHTSA, or waiting for another to happen, they replace it free of charge. That is how a good business operates...<<

     

    Yes, I'm sure this will reassure all the young moms whose kids are sleeping peacefully upstairs while dad's trendy new toy lurks below. Why, I bet Tesla showrooms will be packed with strollers this weekend!

     

    P.S. If Tesla were a REALLY good company it would package the new charger with a complimentary smoke alarm and fire extinguisher.
    10 Jan, 06:55 PM Reply Like
  • Tippydog
    , contributor
    Comments (2053) | Send Message
     
    Dan, I thought Tesla insisted that their charger had nothing to do with it. You are making the somewhat softer statement that Tesla wasn't "100 percent" responsible. Has Tesla indicated that it had any contributory responsibility?

     

    Other than through this recall or whatever they want to call it?

     

    What do customers do for the next 3 weeks before this one with the Low Smolder option arrives? Just run the risk? Or do they drive the ICE that they kept just in case this Tesla thing didn't pan out.
    10 Jan, 07:04 PM Reply Like
  • Dan Fichana
    , contributor
    Comments (1920) | Send Message
     
    Tippydog,

     

    Please read my text again.

     

    My statement was that they fire department could not conclude that it was the charger that caused the fire. There are reports that a 100 A breaker was installed on a 240/50A outlet, don't know how true that is, but if it was ; I would highly question the electrician's job, that could cause a fire.

     

    The statement that Tesla owners are not going to charge it the way they have been charging it for the past year and change is ridiculus. They will continue to charge the way they always have.

     

    No fires in any of the other 20,000 + chargers.

     

    It's another layer of protection, it's always good to implement more safety features.

     

    It's smart of Tesla too. If another fire happens after the fix, then it can be clearly shown that the house has faulty electrical wires.

     

    If there is another fire after the fix, their response will be:
    "Our device is designed to trip after XXX Celsius which is below the ignition point of the source material therefore the fire started in the wall outlet, not our device"
    10 Jan, 07:41 PM Reply Like
  • joenjensen
    , contributor
    Comments (708) | Send Message
     
    That's another way of getting new customers, when the old customers show new customers how satisfied they are with the business it becomes contagious.
    10 Jan, 08:30 PM Reply Like
  • Tri Duong
    , contributor
    Comments (1497) | Send Message
     
    LT,

     

    you keep changing your argument every time. Last week, it was "Great product, extremely overvalued"

     

    Now it's "bad product! can burn down your home"

     

    Before it was "Fire! Fire! Fire!"

     

    I also remember "Not enough battery to ramp production" "Lying!" "Accounting Tricks" and "Big Auto will run past them whenever they feel like it"

     

    I wonder what's next...
    10 Jan, 10:24 PM Reply Like
  • Peter Larson
    , contributor
    Comments (632) | Send Message
     
    Pointing out multiple, simultaneous problems is not "changing an argument".

     

    Attempting to credit a company for pro-actively recalling a product when in fact they had previously insisted was safe, however...
    10 Jan, 11:53 PM Reply Like
  • Dan Fichana
    , contributor
    Comments (1920) | Send Message
     
    The are pro actively removing their product as a variable as a cause of the fire.

     

    There's nothing wrong with that, if you know your product is safe, but are getting blamed, what do you do?

     

    Either continue as usual - get blamed for subsequent fires
    OR
    Improve your part so that future blame can not be placed on your product.

     

    I will tell you, not related to Tesla, I had an issue with an internet service provider. What did I do? I got new boxes to remove the wireless and modem as variables- problem still existed after new modem and wireless, traced back wire, found out the issue was the Internet provider's bad connection- once the connection was replaced everything was fine . But again, could have been modem, wireless, house wiring, outside wiring, or outside box. Systematically remove each variable.
    11 Jan, 01:38 AM Reply Like
  • David at Imperial Beach
    , contributor
    Comments (4267) | Send Message
     
    I am amazed at the negative comments below. What Tesla has done and is doing are good things that they were in no way obligated to do. They have demonstrated time and time again that they place a premium on safety. Yet some here seem to want only to irresponsibly troll any Tesla article, seemingly forgetting that Seekingalpha is supposedly a serious investment website.
    11 Jan, 02:05 AM Reply Like
  • Logical Thought
    , contributor
    Comments (4599) | Send Message
     
    @tduong11

     

    Please don't put words on my keyboard for me. Due to the price and range limitations I've never thought this was a "great product" except for a very tiny number of people; i.e. wealthy people with adequate alternative transportation or wealthy bleeding edge gadget freaks. However, until the garage fire stories started breaking, it had never occurred to me that there could be a home safety issue, just as it hadn't initially occurred to me that there could be a "debris fire issue," as when I first got short here there hadn't yet been any fires. So now it may not be a "great product" for ANYONE, even wealthy people who don't care about the driving range.

     

    The advantage of being short a car company with a tiny niche product and a $21 billion market cap is that a myriad of unexpected problems can (and inevitably will) occur to take that market cap back down to reality.
    11 Jan, 05:46 AM Reply Like
  • doubleE
    , contributor
    Comments (1648) | Send Message
     
    The model S is not particularly expensive compared to similar ICE vehicles. By the time you factor in the federal tax rebate and gas/maintenance savings, a $90,000 costs about the same as $60,000 ICE. Most people spending $60,000 on a car are not particularly wealthy. Merely upper middle class. 265 miles of range may not work for you but it works well for a lot of people. And for those people, it is a fun practical vehicle to own.
    Hundreds of people will continue to die every year from vehicle related carbon monoxide poisoning long after whatever kinks in EV chargers have been worked out.
    Tesla is not a niche company. There is nothing niche about the segment in which it competes. Ferrari and Bentley are niche.
    11 Jan, 07:55 AM Reply Like
  • Logical Thought
    , contributor
    Comments (4599) | Send Message
     
    @doubleE

     

    I won't bother reopening the "range issue" (I think it matters and you don't) but your cost estimate is fallacious. The $90,000 Tesla costs $82,500 after the tax credit (except in California). The $90,000 ICE vehicle @ 12,000 miles/year @ 25mpg uses 480 gallons of gas/year x $4 = $1920. All new BMWs come with four years of free scheduled maintenance, unlike a Tesla that recommends a $500 maintenance every year and probably uses around $500 worth of electricity (if you charge at home). So for the first four years of ownership you'd save around $1000/year with the Model S vs. a 7-series, making the $90,000 Tesla equivalent to a $79,500 ICE car. HOWEVER... If you can't buy a $90,000 7-series for at least 7% off sticker then you have no idea what you're doing as a car buyer, so that ICE car actually costs around $84,000, narrowing the price gap over four years of ownership to around $4500. With that difference at that kind of price point, there's a lot more luxury-type equipment on the BMW (along with, of course, the 500-mile range). To each his own, but I'll point out that not very many 7-series or S-Classes are sold, either.
    11 Jan, 08:16 AM Reply Like
  • doubleE
    , contributor
    Comments (1648) | Send Message
     
    A BMW 7 series barely gets 20 mpg. Driving 20,000 miles a year is not uncommon in CA and TX. All it takes is a 75 mile round trip commute. That $4,000 a year in gasoline costs. Tesla buyers are not under any obligation to purchase the maintenance plan. Many chose not to.
    Tesla forums is full of stories about owners who added solar panels at no cost and now pay less in electricity than they did on grid power before buying the model S.
    11 Jan, 08:36 AM Reply Like
  • nwdiver
    , contributor
    Comments (387) | Send Message
     
    Why is it so difficult for people to understand the product progression that Tesla has in place? I read endless complaints about how the Model S is a niche car... it's only for the rich... ect, ect... Look at it's predecessor; The roadster was $120k, had room for two people and a backpack and no fast charging abilities. The roadster FUNDED the Model S. The Model S WOULD NOT EXIST WITHOUT THE ROADSTER. The Model S is half the price and twice as practical. The Model E is next and will again be ~half the price. The Model E WILL NEVER EXIST WITHOUT THE MODEL S. Yeah a lot of people think Tesla won't be able to deliver on the Model E... they said the same about the Model S... how'd that turn out?
    11 Jan, 09:42 AM Reply Like
  • Tippydog
    , contributor
    Comments (2053) | Send Message
     
    Dan, what do you mean that Tesla was "getting blamed" for the garage fire? Who was blaming Tesla for that fire, or for the other smoldering and heating stuff that was reported?
    11 Jan, 10:13 AM Reply Like
  • Peter Larson
    , contributor
    Comments (632) | Send Message
     
    Tesla IS doing something good by replacing the wall chargers, the problem is that they should have done it months ago. More importantly, they should ADMIT that it's their fault and apologize, even if it isn't.

     

    That's PR 101. ALWAYS apologize. People like it.
    11 Jan, 12:00 PM Reply Like
  • Logical Thought
    , contributor
    Comments (4599) | Send Message
     
    >>A BMW 7 series barely gets 20 mpg. Driving 20,000 miles a year is not uncommon in CA and TX. All it takes is a 75 mile round trip commute. That $4,000 a year in gasoline costs.<<

     

    Can we assume that your mythical 20,000 miles/year commuter (I'll bet you that no more than 10% of all Model S's rack up that kind of mileage) does it primarily on the highway? If so, allow me to introduce you to the BMW ActiveHybrid 7, which is rated at 30mpg on the highway and has a sticker price of $84,300 which at a typical 7% off is $79,000.
    http://bit.ly/1hHVS2s

     

    Then check out all the standard features for which Tesla charges extra:
    http://bit.ly/1hHWeG5
    11 Jan, 12:06 PM Reply Like
  • Dan Fichana
    , contributor
    Comments (1920) | Send Message
     
    Pundits and critics, even on this site were blaming the Tesla charger.
    BPC equity was one such critic off the top of my head.

     

    Melting and a full out fire are completely different.
    I can tell you first hand, i'v had a CPU melt the solder and weld itself to the motherboard, no fire.
    Was it intel's fault? Was it the computer builder's fault?
    Nope, it was the cooler pump failure in a grossly overclocked computer, that had the thermal management disabled for OC puposes.

     

    Having a warm wire also does not indicate a fire.

     

    I'm also an owner, will say the charger gets warm, but no warmer than any other high energy appliances- actually my laptop powercord gets warmer.
    11 Jan, 05:58 PM Reply Like
  • arondaniel
    , contributor
    Comments (831) | Send Message
     
    "What do customers do for the next 3 weeks before this one with the Low Smolder option arrives? Just run the risk? Or do they drive the ICE that they kept just in case this Tesla thing didn't pan out."

     

    Um... drive and charge the car as normal most likely, assuming they hired an electrician with half a brain. Your toaster is a greater risk Mr. Tippydog.
    11 Jan, 06:39 PM Reply Like
  • AndyMahnFL
    , contributor
    Comments (51) | Send Message
     
    Apology is admission of guilt. No guilt here unless fault can be proven. Not sure what learning institution you attended PR class at.
    11 Jan, 06:41 PM Reply Like
  • Moon Kil Woong
    , contributor
    Comments (11166) | Send Message
     
    Perhaps they see the light now that hydrogen cars will hit the road. There will be a successful successor to regular gasoline, and there is no guarantee it will be electric or even if it is, that it will be built on Tesla's type of batteries. The odds still favor it is not unless the sales cost can drop under $35,000.
    12 Jan, 04:04 AM Reply Like
  • Surf Dog
    , contributor
    Comments (825) | Send Message
     
    Logical thought, not so much.

     

    As if ICE vehicles never catch fire. I recently had a fire in one of my PT Cruisers when a mechanic who changed my oil left a rag under the hood. A few miles down the road I noticed smoke coming out from under the hood as I turned a corner. I popped the hood and stopped the car in the middle of the road (there was no traffic) when I looked down behind the engine I could see the burning rag. I quickly reached in and threw it out into the middle of the road. A few of the wires had the insulation melted but the car was still operational. If I had been going faster I might not have seen the smoke. That car could have just blown up right under me. If I hadn't been quicker pulling that rag out I could've lost of vehicle over $.30 rag.

     

    ICE vehicles catch fire way more frequently than any Tesla ever will. Maybe you should think twice about letting your family ride in one.
    15 Jan, 04:10 AM Reply Like
  • Milhouse
    , contributor
    Comments (364) | Send Message
     
    "ICE vehicles catch fire way more frequently than any Tesla ever will. Maybe you should think twice about letting your family ride in one."

     

    Why do you let your family ride in an ICE vehicle when you advise others not to?
    15 Jan, 08:45 AM Reply Like
  • speedofov
    , contributor
    Comments (91) | Send Message
     
    I'm not wild about this solution. The software fix caused my charging unit to send a default message and slow the charging process. I did a reset and it's been fine since.

     

    I'd hate to have it shutdown at some low trigger level. If it does, then the car should notify the owner via the app that it has happened. Otherwise, you could believe you have a full-charge and arrive to discover that it had turned-off.

     

    Obviously we are all in favor of safety, but it seems like they are trying to solve a problem that doesn't exist.
    10 Jan, 02:10 PM Reply Like
  • nwdiver
    , contributor
    Comments (387) | Send Message
     
    I think an auto-text feature is long overdue... Most RV parks are older than I am and on several occasions I've returned to find a tripped breaker instead of a charged car...
    10 Jan, 07:18 PM Reply Like
  • surferbroadband
    , contributor
    Comments (1887) | Send Message
     
    No Speedofov, the problem does exist. If due to faulty wiring in your house, the charger overheats the wiring, then, the charger should use less juice.

     

    In any type of equipment there has to be safety measures put in place. In a new industry, there is a continual process that things occur once in a blue moon and you must react to that. If you don't react to that, then you are stonewalling.

     

    It is better to be proactive than to be reactive. Tesla is being proactive in this situation.
    10 Jan, 02:23 PM Reply Like
  • aaronw2
    , contributor
    Comments (202) | Send Message
     
    I haven't been notified yet either. I have a HPWC installed and was told that Tesla will be upgrading the fuses in them to better support 80A since the fuses tend to trip too early. I often charge at 80A (despite Tesla normally lowering it to 60A) and the wall charger doesn't even get warm. If anything, the fuses would trip too soon. The cable gets a bit warm but not hot.

     

    The high power wall connector is quite compact, much smaller than many other chargers that handle only a fraction of the power the HPWC handles.

     

    In fact, the 100A emergency shut-off switch that is mandated by local ordinance is several times the size of the HPWC.
    10 Jan, 02:36 PM Reply Like
  • aaronw2
    , contributor
    Comments (202) | Send Message
     
    I stand corrected on my statement. I thought it was dealing with the high power wall connector (HPWC) but this relates to the UMC cable. The UMC cable retails for $600 and has been problematic with the plug adapters that plug in to the wall. While I haven't had any overheating issues I have had issues where the connection between my NEMA 14-30 adapter and the cable has been intermittent. It doesn't make a very solid connection. Many others have complained about this and this is where others have reported overheating and melting. I am glad that Tesla is addressing this issue.

     

    At 25,000 cars times $600 this works out to $15,000,000. I think we can safely assume that the UMC's actual cost is significantly less than $600. If they are upgrading the adapters I hope they replace all of mine since I have all six adapters they make. While not chump change this doesn't seem like a significant amount.

     

    For the HPWC I was told that Tesla will need to physically come out and replace the fuses though from what I saw inside the charger it should be a simple task requiring no more than a few minutes to complete.
    10 Jan, 06:00 PM Reply Like
  • Rik1381
    , contributor
    Comments (1420) | Send Message
     
    aaron, Tesla is sending owners new NEMA adapters for their UMC, not new UMCs.
    http://bit.ly/1ktYOSc
    10 Jan, 06:04 PM Reply Like
  • mobyss
    , contributor
    Comments (2045) | Send Message
     
    Just read an article in Car and Driver about a Tesla S that made it 600+ miles from Detroit to New York in about 23 hours. Beating a 1920's Ford Model T that broke down several times by just one hour.

     

    "Tesla - a little faster than a Model T, if a fire doesn't kill you first!"
    10 Jan, 06:32 PM Reply Like
  • Rik1381
    , contributor
    Comments (1420) | Send Message
     
    @mobyss, I made the 600 miles from Las Vegas to my SF Bay Area home in less than 11 hours in my Model S. That was with 90 kW Supercharging. Shortly after my trip, I got the firmware update that enabled 120 kW Supercharging.
    10 Jan, 06:45 PM Reply Like
  • arondaniel
    , contributor
    Comments (831) | Send Message
     
    "Just read an article in Car and Driver about a Tesla S that made it 600+ miles from Detroit to New York in about 23 hours. Beating a 1920's Ford Model T that broke down several times by just one hour."

     

    Funny stuff @MoByss!

     

    You know, that route they chose has no superchargers. And it will by this summer. Once it does, that same trip will be fast & free for the Model S.

     

    But hey, don't worry. I'm sure you can keep on buying $4+ gasoline, oil changes, and engine/exhaust repairs for years to come. :)
    11 Jan, 06:24 PM Reply Like
  • PeterJA
    , contributor
    Comments (2607) | Send Message
     
    "Just read an article in Car and Driver about a Tesla S that made it 600+ miles from Detroit to New York in about 23 hours. Beating a 1920's Ford Model T that broke down several times by just one hour."

     

    I searched the Car and Driver website for "Tesla Model S Ford Model T" and found nothing. I wonder why you didn't include a link to the article you "just read."
    21 Jan, 10:34 AM Reply Like
  • James Bjorkman
    , contributor
    Comments (679) | Send Message
     
    Anytime you see your company's name in a headline with "after fire" - that's probably not something you want to see.
    10 Jan, 07:17 PM Reply Like
  • 1980XLS
    , contributor
    Comments (3333) | Send Message
     
    While I'm not a fan of TSLA's valuation, this headline is not a reason to lose faith, or sell the stock.

     

    No, I would not buy the stock. But if I believed, and I was long, I would not act on it. (meaning the headline)

     

    Any electrical appliance that draws a considerable load, is at risk with faulty installation.

     

    BTW: I am a 3rd generation, licensed Master electrician with 30 years of experience in the trade
    10 Jan, 09:41 PM Reply Like
  • hneumann
    , contributor
    Comments (619) | Send Message
     
    Still waiting on the NHTSA review and/or the ER before considering to buy a few shares.
    10 Jan, 09:52 PM Reply Like
  • myztiX
    , contributor
    Comments (42) | Send Message
     
    The issue with the above is that they are making a non issue an issue for customer satisification. Last I heard, they are 99%. Perhaps an adapter was nice, but shipping it? Probably not necessary. Is shipping free? Probably not. Waste of money for now unless they plan on making it back selling future models at slightly higher price to make up the cost spent.
    10 Jan, 10:40 PM Reply Like
  • TAS
    , contributor
    Comments (2286) | Send Message
     
    TESLA is an interesting speculation.If Musk declares an inkling to sell this company, the speculation would pay a handsome return.Musk is indeed like Tesla the man. Sparks of brilliance, but questionable staying power.

     

    I'll take a Rockefeller or a Vanderbilt over a Tesla or a Musk as an investment.
    11 Jan, 03:36 PM Reply Like
  • Miro Kefurt
    , contributor
    Comments (675) | Send Message
     
    TESLA has known about this "overheating" problem since at least April 2013, yet did nothing about it nor notified NHTSA (as it should within 5 days - a legal requirement, for failing they can get fined).

     

    Example:
    I used the standard charger cable (the one that comes with the car) for 5 months before getting my High Power Wall Charger (HPWC). I then put the original charger in my trunk. Last week I took it out to charge at a friends house and I couldn't get the 240V adapter off the cable to switch to the 110V adapter (yes, I was pushing the release button). I finally pried it off with a screwdriver and I saw that the inside of the adapter had melted to the inside of the cable connection.

     

    I brought it to Tesla Fremont yesterday and they replaced it. The service tech said they had seen this a few times before.

     

    I would suggest that you remove your adapter and look inside. If the plastic is melting around the pins, it's time to call Tesla."

     

    http://bit.ly/1exh4Fg
    11 Jan, 04:38 PM Reply Like
  • XCentrick
    , contributor
    Comments (11) | Send Message
     
    OUCH!
    http://bit.ly/1gyS3c1
    13 Jan, 12:04 AM Reply Like
DJIA (DIA) S&P 500 (SPY)
ETF Tools
Find the right ETFs for your portfolio:
Seeking Alpha's new ETF Hub
ETF Investment Guide:
Table of Contents | One Page Summary
Read about different ETF Asset Classes:
ETF Selector