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Old 04-04-2015, 11:08 AM   #1 (permalink)
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BMW i3 "bricked" at the charger!

Dutch carmag AutoWeek is subjecting a BMW i3 with range extender to an endurance test.
The other day they found it dead at the charger.
This could happen to other electric cars too.



So here is the report of what happened, what caused it, how they resolved it, what they should have done and how to prevent it in the first place.
Quote:
Originally Posted by AutoWeek (translated)
So there we are, in the cold. To make matters worse an icy wind is gaining force. No way the i3 will unlock, at least not by remote. Locked like a safe at the charging station.
Finally, the remote reveals a physical key with which we can lift a cap in the door handle, hiding a lock. We get behind the wheel. Problem solved.
But no. Even inside the car there are no signs of life. The i3 is a brick.
Strange, as when it was hooked up yesterday it still had more than half its capacity left.

The charging cable will not unlock, neither from the car nor from the charger. A call to the service department makes the charger unlock the cable. But the car is still in P with locked wheels.
Some time after calling the BMW emergency service a tow truck arrives and winches it aboard with tires scraping.
...
The diagnose at the BMW garage reveals that the 12V battery was completely discharged.
The little battery powers all electronics, and the central locking, power cable release.
...
After it has been replaced everything functions again. The main battery is all right, luckily ... Apparently it does not recharge the 12V battery when parked.
...
The logfiles from the chargers company show that the cable locking had failed; not mechanically (it was locked after all) but by software.
It looks like the charge controller in the car kept polling the charger whether the charge could take place, but the station refused because of connector lock failure.
The continued communication has most likely exhausted the 12V battery.
So... Make sure the car is actually being charged before you leave, especially when you are using a charging point for the first time.
Had they done that they would have noticed it did not work and maybe go to another point or skip the charging.

And of course, when it is bricked like this do not drag it on a tow vehicle but jump the 12V battery and switch on the ignition so the main battery takes over recharging the 12V battery...

Last week a colleague of mine had a Renault Zoe as a courtesy car.

Our company provides free charging points, but we could not get it to charge the Zoe.
We left it with the cable in the charger all day, but it did not charge it.
Glad we did not brick the Zoe.
Turns out you do still need a special charge payment card to make it work (he brought that out the next day).
The card will not be 'charged' - unlike the car

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Last edited by RedDevil; 04-04-2015 at 02:19 PM..
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Old 04-04-2015, 11:50 AM   #2 (permalink)
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my juicebox "bricked" my leaf while trying to troubleshoot the juicebox. Left it thinking it had zero charge (and I was in a rush). I was able to plug in the panasonic for a few seconds and the leaf then remembered it had a charge. (j1772)
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Old 04-04-2015, 12:16 PM   #3 (permalink)
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This isn't the definition of "bricked" that I know!

I thought if it were truly "bricked", it would be wrecked (meaning: major components needed to be replaced to make it functional again).

Quote:
Brick:
informal
cause (an electronic device) to become completely unable to function, typically on a permanent basis.

---

Top Definition. bricked. To render your computer useless, as useless as a brick. Usually the result of tampering with the insides and doing irreversible damage.
EG: a bricked EV is one where some glitch (or a dumb owner not leaving it plugged in during a very long period sitting parked) causes the high voltage battery pack to drain to zero, which would ruin it. Like that Tesla left parked for too long.
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Old 04-04-2015, 01:08 PM   #4 (permalink)
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It needed a 12 volt jump, lesson should be learned. Brother had the same problem with his Prius. Dumb dealer left it sitting in the showroom with the doors open and dome light on until it killed the 12 v batt, then sold him the car after charging the batt which was destroyed by being totally discharged, to the point where it would not even light the dome lamp.

Bricked is when the lithium battery has been totally discharged down to 0 current potential.

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Old 04-04-2015, 01:18 PM   #5 (permalink)
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you can imagine that the meaning of "bricked" has devolved a bit. A lot of times a unit of somesort can be reflashed, or have just the right comm signals sent to it.

So "bricked" sort of depends on the skill level/tools availibility/knowledge avalibility/persistance of the user. It isn't necessarily permanent. Though for some item's like computers, it often isn't worth it to the company to bother resucissitating it.

Looking at wikipedia, there are divisions known as "soft brick" and "hard brick" :/
Brick (electronics) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
where hard brick would require a jtag programmer (and appropriate hex files).

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Old 04-04-2015, 02:25 PM   #6 (permalink)
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True all. It was not literally bricked, but they treated it as such.
Have to say they did not call it bricked, that's my translation.
(though 'dead' does not sound less dramatic)
I now added hyphens to "bricked" in the thread title.

With all the attention to the main battery people tend to forget that it has a 12V battery, and that that can fail.
If the car had an ICE they would have tried a jump start without even thinking.
It even has an ICE - though not connected to the drive train!
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Last edited by RedDevil; 04-04-2015 at 05:03 PM..
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Old 04-04-2015, 02:55 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Same thing happens with the Gen1 Insight: even if the main battery is fully charged, the car won't run if there's not enough juice in the 12V battery. (Or if the 12V battery is bad, which happened to me once.)

Also shows the amazing advantages (NOT!) of electronic remotes & battery cable controls :-)
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Old 04-04-2015, 03:56 PM   #8 (permalink)
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yah my prius battery went south, had to jump the 12v under the hood so I could pop the trunk to get to the battery. There is usually a "way", but best to know it before you need it.
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Old 04-05-2015, 01:20 PM   #9 (permalink)
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This can happen to any car. No ICE charges it's 12v battery when parked.
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Old 04-05-2015, 03:41 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I planned ahead for this in my conversions, and have installed a low voltage cutoff for my 12 volt battery so that it will disconnect if it goes too low,and I have a manual reset button for the latching solenoid that disconnects it.

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