James May's Tesla Model S has failed!
James May has had his Tesla Model S for a while, and until now there have been little-to-no issues with the big electric saloon car. But after taking time away from the bunker to film the next episode of The Grand Tour, a gremlin has crept into James' EV. Let him explain...

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Hall of the Mountain King Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

  • JM's unemployment tube
    JM's unemployment tube

    To be clear, I set the battery to charge to 80 per cent. When I say 'fully charged' I mean the cycle is complete.

    • Aurora The Otter
      Aurora The Otter

      I charge my phone down to 20% and up to 80%

    • Keith Obrien
      Keith Obrien

      How long was the car sitting in your garage and would that not happen to most( petrol vehicles if laying up for long period in a garage

    • Rommel D
      Rommel D

      Me too!

    • Matthew Jenkins
      Matthew Jenkins

      @william nilsson It does't really matter, because battery condition and temperature will vary hugely for others. Fact that this can happen at all is simply wrong, on a vehicle plugged in. And the effort required should that battery fail for any reason, ridiculous.

    • william nilsson
      william nilsson

      For how long did you leave it? How long did it take for the battery to become empty?

  • Tony D
    Tony D

    hey what happens if the battery goes dead .... lol thats right up there with the dumbest thing i`ve seen in a while.... i thought changing spark plugs through the wheel well was bad .... lol

  • Kossolax the Foresworn
    Kossolax the Foresworn

    some people throw car batteries into the ocean. id just throw whole tesla.

  • Dave Dave
    Dave Dave

    You cannot possibly expect any car manufacturer to understand how poor what they make actually is! Why do you think that most cars end up scrapped after 8 years? Designed in obsolescence! Normal stuff really. Your average French car for instance is too expensive to repair at 6 years old. Walk or get a bicycle!

  • Mark Wayne
    Mark Wayne

    Who would have thought; James May proves he's smarter than Elon Musk. He is also capable of maintaining his composure better than 99.99% of the people on the planet.

  • Magnus Biström
    Magnus Biström

    Time to retire old man!

  • Orwell Huxley
    Orwell Huxley

    Truly astounding that a company with a market cap 6x that of VW cannot figure out how to enable its customers gain access to the vehicle with a fully charged Li ion battery pack. "Sorta like saying" that your cell phone is fully charged and you have 5 bars LTE signal strength but the phone dialing pad doesn't work 'cause you haven't recently washed your hands.

  • Jacek Marczyk
    Jacek Marczyk


  • Rich Jenn
    Rich Jenn

    THIS is why i am so uninterested in modern cars. pah!!

  • Xerox 80
    Xerox 80

    It's a bit like replacing a lightbulb on one of the headlight units on my Ford Mondeo really. You also have to unbolt the fenders and the front bumper so you can take out the complete headlight unit and only then you can replace the lightbulb before putting it all together again. It's a real nightmare....

  • J K
    J K

    Oh dear, how ridiculous.

  • B W
    B W

    Nice tutorial on how to break into the front luggage compartment, thanks!

  • Eotarc

    That is a MAJOR oversight. How can you have a battery in an electric car that won't charge when you plug it in? To have to install a "trickle" charge cable after spending that kind of money on a car is ridiculous.

  • leclerc811

    Genuinely built by morons

  • A. R.
    A. R.

    Pretty sure the Taycan has a similar issue to this with the little batteries

  • Avraj Sagoo
    Avraj Sagoo

    My 2006 toyota vitz is more reliable 16 years on never once ONCE NEVER ONCE has it ever switched off or glitched yet i drive it mon to sun 90% of the time lol

  • Boothbyzx Wintarssgf
    Boothbyzx Wintarssgf

    The glossy south africa karunagappally wave because james concretely sound upon a wealthy shield. nippy, hanging cucumber

  • Dave Leighton
    Dave Leighton

    A cigarette lighter fitted in a discreet location on the outside of the car would allow you to connect your charger or a small jumper battery from the exterior of the car which will give you enough power to pop the doors.

  • Stuart Hancock
    Stuart Hancock

    Scotty Kilmer showed a similar problem on his channel with an Audi. The battery was flat but was in the boot and you needed electrical power to open the boot.........

  • Don Steele
    Don Steele

    Amazing that the smartest engineers in the world overlook the stupidest little things. Note to same: Batteries go dead far more often than keys are lost. Bring back door locks and ignition keys, please!

  • Christian

    How about a mechanical lock on the drivers door and a mechanical bonnet release somewhere inside, so you can always access the battery. Like on ... any sensible car

  • AcceptYourDeath

    As far as I know the majority of manufacturers make far more money with service and part replacement then selling the car itself. Inconvenient is their goal by design. If a solution is slightly more expensive during production but you have to bring the car in for service as a result you bet they will do it.

  • MinimalModul

    DRIVETRIBE = ICE Propaganda.

  • Francisco Toro
    Francisco Toro

    Clearly not designed by an automotive engineer. I'd rather drive a blender....

  • Tina Luke
    Tina Luke

    over designed

  • Chris Gough
    Chris Gough

    Software fix should be unplug charger and plug in again, this should trigger a battery check…

  • Oz Bloke
    Oz Bloke


  • Harith's

    A simple software update can/will resolve this problem... it's not that hard to automatically charge the battery when it low.. the car knows when the battery low..

  • Anonymity

    Bang for your buck 🤣😂$$🍋🍋

  • The Whore's Whisperer
    The Whore's Whisperer

    Work? You should of got Kaleb or Gerald to do it..

  • Dingo Delta
    Dingo Delta

    Reminds me of Jezzas' Airport Rant 😂

  • A R
    A R

    Well at least its simple

  • King Tox music
    King Tox music

    This is a ' make the gear top again movement ' is time for us to let go we had fun

  • Aaron Arshad
    Aaron Arshad

    I think you woke the Gremlin up at the end! Run away James! Run like you're being chased by Jeremy for saying "Back to the Studio"!.

  • Keith Obrien
    Keith Obrien

    You are a complete thick

  • Adenovirus

    Just remember it takes 1170 WH of coal powered energyto make every lithium iron battery that returns 1000WH of energy after 1000 cycles when then the Li battery becomes a toxic waste unrecyclable problem for the planet. everywhere solar or wind is introduced coal consumption goes up - but still like the car because of massive torque at zero RPM. So charging the battery with "green energy" instead of coal fired power also increases coal usage too (wind and solar panels use more coal than they return in energy and manufacturing terms). Around double the coal altogether powers a green electric car what a joke. We need steam engine cars drive by coal.

  • Travel with Tony
    Travel with Tony

    Tesla: Where hype goes to die.

  • K N
    K N

    A car that isn’t there when you need it to be. Are we really moving forward ??? And are they really green ???

    • Alastair Lugg
      Alastair Lugg

      All cars go flat eventually if not used, but that much effort to get to your battery is annoying… Really green? No, they use a lithium ion battery which produces more pollution to produce than driving a petrol car for like 40 years and only lasts what 10 years? Lol

  • Rick w
    Rick w

    😄😄 amazing

  • Ivan G Pavlovic
    Ivan G Pavlovic

    This just adds to the concerns that I have of any humans riding on someone's rockets ! Mars 2024!?? Yikes!!

  • Matt Bode
    Matt Bode

    James this problem happens to non-EV cars to and I came to the same conclusion as you did by putting a Anderson plug in a discrete place to charge the battery externally.

  • sirnikolas

    Does that mean Elon Musk won't be coming on the show?

  • Dustin Morrison
    Dustin Morrison

    Petrol, simples :)

  • Gordon Bradford
    Gordon Bradford

    This is typical automotive engineering nowadays.I'm sorry to say.This is not unusual.

    • Alastair Lugg
      Alastair Lugg

      Most cars I’ve seen a battery isn’t that hard to get to, even if getting into a car with an all electronic key with a dead battery isn’t fun

  • Andrew

    Sounds like a huge design flaw on the Model S.

  • Knights2theEnd

    So if you got away on a two month trip, make sure you leave your hood open.

  • Surfer Dude
    Surfer Dude

    'Tis a silly design.

  • Randall Huston
    Randall Huston

    Sounds like design flaws to me.


    Basura eléctrica más v8

  • ORLA S
    ORLA S

    And they say that this is the way, ‘ going forward ‘ ! 😅😂🤣😅😂🤣

  • tpnguyen88

    LOL.. piece of junk

  • L Dean Richards
    L Dean Richards

    Yeah but your charging terminal would have cost $.59 more to make.

    • Alastair Lugg
      Alastair Lugg

      But to get one installed would likely cost you $100 minimum haha

  • King Curry
    King Curry

    Does anyone else feel that Teslas have the desirability of chlamydia?

  • Horked

    james, wouldnt your sollution make it easier to nick the car? i dont know anything about electric cars, it just occured to me that the reason they made it this complicated is to make it harder for the car thief

  • The Carromkid.
    The Carromkid.

    Fair play Mr May.

  • Grizzy Bear
    Grizzy Bear

    All EV's have a 12v battery because all the OEM components are still 12v, at least in the new Model S Plaid they have a 12v lithium ion battery.

  • Ahmed hesham
    Ahmed hesham

    What are you doing !!!

  • LovingDad

    I'm a month late to this party, but the suggestion of a pigtail charging port in the frunk sounds quite reasonable. Perhaps Tesla would consider either a recall or at-cost option to get them installed?

    • Alastair Lugg
      Alastair Lugg

      They won’t do either… they might make it a super expensive option when you get a service haha

  • rileys reid
    rileys reid


  • The Dummy Spit
    The Dummy Spit

    Another reason why I would never even contemplate owning one of these things.

  • Anthony Xuereb
    Anthony Xuereb

    Shameful isn't it, with all the available engineers and technicians they come up with something that even you and I wouldn't design. We've all experienced a flat battery and we know the inconvenience it entails. Back to the drawing board and I'm willing to help out.

  • Brian Doan
    Brian Doan

    Lol...a $100K model s designed like a $20k Kia....

  • kjm 1955
    kjm 1955

    This is on the wrong channel. should be Jackanory. Yawn ZZzzzzzzz

  • Derek Ferguson
    Derek Ferguson

    Hope you know the radio code. Lol.

  • Emiel Talen
    Emiel Talen

    Got a Volvo ad, nuff said 🤣

  • Sony Hunter UK
    Sony Hunter UK

    Very environmentally friendly ! Using an electric car as a second car makes no sense if you want to save the planet !

  • Mark Sandison
    Mark Sandison

    I own an Audi A3 1.9 TDI and recently was unable to unlock the car with the remote. I then put the key in the driver's door lock to find that the car would still not unlock. The technician said was no way to unlock the door without making an expensive call out trip. Luckily the outside temperature warmed the battery enough to get enough power to open the door. A new battery sorted out the problem but it now has taught me to get the 12v battery checked by a professional battery dealer once a year especially with Audi cars as its electronics are ultra sensitive to low batteries.

  • Icaros Savvides
    Icaros Savvides

    I've seen this problem elsewhere where an EV has sat with it's hazards flashing and drained it's 'service' battery resulting in the same inconvenience as yours. I cannot for the life of me see why you need a service battery at all, the drive battery is never allowed to drain completely consequently it should be able to power essential ancilleries, like locks etc? Cars, and car software, seem to be designed, more and more, by people who have never had to actually repair or service them!

  • Carrotsalesman

    Exactly the same views as Subs. A rare event.

  • Matt Elliott
    Matt Elliott

    ill stick with diesel

  • Voltaic Fire
    Voltaic Fire

    If only we'd invented some kind of device that physically locked a car but could be opened without batteries, something like a metal key.

    • Mark Rushton
      Mark Rushton

      Keys? So 200 yrs old idea.

    • Ares

      @scumdrops yea, and all the car has it . Put everthing electric but let the manual system too to unlock/lock the car like every car on the earth.

    • marko marin
      marko marin

      Eww what is a " key " ? Tesla need a wireless card that swipe off the hood from outside.

    • scumdrops

      But then anybody with one of these bits of metal could unlock my car, doesn't sound very secure.

    • Wolf

      What is this heresy. We have no need for your magickal trinkets.

  • Liam Tahaney
    Liam Tahaney

    All this feels like something a software update could fix.

  • Steven Poole
    Steven Poole

    What a faff for something that shouldn't even be an issue.

  • Toby Thong
    Toby Thong

    It is a less user friendly production car at the moment

  • eric hunt
    eric hunt

    think i will stick to my old mercury and hotrod, those electric jokes are obsolete money pits already enjoy suckers.

  • G man channel
    G man channel

    Maybe if you put the battery on trickle charge if you where not going to use the car for a long period then it might not have died. Or leave the bonnet open.

  • Space Marine
    Space Marine

    Between misery and nothing I'll take nothing, you can have this obsolete electrical contraption.

  • ronald engels
    ronald engels

    This seems like a miserable car, I love my LEXUS 8 Cyclinder 300 HP Gasoline V8, 16 years and never a problem and still like new! Regards!

    • Chris Pritchard
      Chris Pritchard

      @ronald engels We must be twins Ronald. I am 74 with an LS 430. Love it to pieces. Like your GS, has comfort, power, and pure pleasure. My family all have new cars, but they all prefer the Lexus when we go on long runs.

    • ronald engels
      ronald engels

      @Chris Pritchard Thanks for your fine comment, As said the chief mechanic of Lexus during the last service of my Lexus GS 430, this car will for sure survive you and if you ever think about selling, just let me know! I am 74 now and am not giving up on this fantastic car, which gives me great driving pleasure, specially on the German Autobahn! Regards, from Hulst, the Netherlands.

    • Chris Pritchard
      Chris Pritchard

      I agree. Your Lexus was made by Japanese engineers with real pride in their creation. The Tesla was designed purely for profit, and is a natural money-pit. The Lexus will still be running in another 20 years time, with very little additional cost. I cannot imagine that the Tesla will survive that long.

  • john Mutton
    john Mutton

    What a load of ballocks!

  • lewis4642011

    Over engineered, overpriced and shoddily built junk. Electric cars always have and always be gimmicks. Hydrogen is the future

  • Henning Kilset
    Henning Kilset

    At least they moved the terminals under a SINGLE panel in newer versions of Model S - but you still have to manually release the frunk lock by pulling little hidden cable loops.

  • Sam H
    Sam H

    You should taken one for your best cars from your private collection and take it to "electric classic cars uk" and do a conversion.

  • Charles Russell
    Charles Russell

    So then, it's easier to charge your battery if you drive a 1960 Morrie Minor?

  • Dirk S.
    Dirk S.

    Someone at Tesla should really think it throug, why a second battery is needed, if you have a main battery x time its size. Didn't they hear about manufactoring and supply chain optimisation, where used components count is supposed to be as low as possible, and component reusage is key? Looks like Elon needs to learn a lot.

  • Ladco77

    Yes, it needs a charger port, but more than that it needs to constantly recharge the small battery off of the main battery so that the main battery will just top itself back off from the wall charger as needed. You shouldn't need to plug up two different chargers. Musk needs to get rid of that 12V car battery altogether and just use a small capacitor bank that refreshes off the main battery.

  • o2i3u5klwerh

    Now you will be cancelled by Tesla sjws , and lose your job at the BBC. Oh wait...

  • Peter Allam
    Peter Allam

    Surprised at you James! You've only just caught on....when you buy a new car nowadays you enter into an arrangement. The arrangement is the manufacturer takes money from you every time something needs attention - in your case trickle charging your battery. Did you say you replace the fob battery frequently ? Your onboard!

  • Paul

    simple don't buy American. Especially if musk has had a hand in the design.

  • Kurtis TNL
    Kurtis TNL

    No. No. Nope. I would have just thrown the car out.

  • Waddy

    I'll stick to my Land Rover Defender (not the Disco6 version)...

  • Joshua Perrie
    Joshua Perrie

    Why not keep it plugged in?? Like the car??

  • Larry Dugan
    Larry Dugan

    A fully charged main battery and you can't get in the car. That is ridiculous.

  • randombloke

    One day we´ll service our cars at PCworld. Which is sad.

  • MCS 32
    MCS 32

    Getting to the bottom of this would've frustrated and aroused him in equal parts.

  • Dennis Premoli
    Dennis Premoli

    Ironic, since the new plaid models have replaced the acid battery with a lithium one.

  • glockenrein

    What it needs are door handles. Normal ones.

  • Luke Orlando
    Luke Orlando

    I had a car which I had shaved the door handles. Kinda neat cause without door handles the car had no need for locks. The key fob was programmed so that the unlock button activated a solenoid to pop open one door the lock button opened the other door. The car wanting to automatically lock itself when I broke 10mph was a huge problem until I figured out how to disable that system. Every time I set off the passenger door would fly open. All that to say I had a secret hood release to get access to the engine/battery. But heaven forbid you ever shut the door and left the key inside. No locks need the key to open the door :P

  • D Momcilovic
    D Momcilovic

    Moral of the story: drive your car instead of a display item in a garage

  • Qubit 711
    Qubit 711

    Drama queen much? Dude those plastic covers take 2.5 seconds to remove, all vehicles batteries die, most people do not leave their car parked with out usage and if they do the next problem you will have it flat tires. Just buy another vehicles since you are disliking the Tesla.

  • Alex Carlucci
    Alex Carlucci

    F*ck electric cars ! How are these gonna be the future awful !