Monday, December 14, 2015

Tesla Reliability Doesn’t Match Its High Performance

After my post a few weeks ago where I berated Tesla for their less-than-stellar build quality and electrical issues, I did get quite a few emails from people claiming I was an anti-Tesla luddite who was stuck burning dinosaurs in my car. (Which is weird because I own a Nissan LEAF, charged by solar panels, so I'm potentially more qualified to talk about electric vehicles than 90% of the people who claim I'm an electric vehicle hater).
But to be honest you're right about Tesla motors - I don't like them. For me, they're very over-priced, very average cars, with a litany of problems that a modern car manufacturer just shouldn't have. I can get much more car for much less money with far fewer problems from many different manufacturers. Look at the new Model X; it's not "revolutionary" - they just did what every other manufacturer has done - took a 4-door saloon and steroided it up to be a mini-SUV or crossover.
Tesla is an interesting dichotemy though. On the one side, owner satisfaction sits at an enviable 97%, suggesting that just about every one of their customers would buy another car from them. But on the other hand you have the reliability and build quality issues I spoke about. I can't reconcile why so many owners have so many complaints, yet claim they'd still buy another vehicle from Mr Musk.
Consumer reports published their annual reliability survey recently - where car owners are quizzed about what the real cars are actually like, as oppose to the primped and modified press cars that are used for the reviews. In the case of the Model S, 1400 owners responded.
Most highlighted issues with the Tesla S: problems with the drivetrain, power equipment like motorized door handles not working, the big central touchscreen (too reflective, not responsive, too distracting, buggy software), charging equipment, climate control, steering, and suspension systems and various body and sunroof squeaks, rattles, and leaks.
What I wrote on October 5th that annoyed so many people: That giant touchscreen is a huge distraction, and in any amount of sunlight it behaves like a giant mirror inside the car, blinding the front seat occupants. Whilst the exterior is well presented, the interior fit and finish in all the ones I've driven has all the finesse of a 1970's Trabant. The panels squeak (especially around the touch screen), rattle and vibrate and the A-pillar panels either side of the windshield constantly pop out of place. The pop-out door handles work about 50% of the time.
So my experience would seem to match the experience of 1400 other Model S drivers, which is good for me because it means I'm not the only one who has experienced these issues.
Elon Musk naturally jumped in immediately claiming that these faults have all been fixed in the current 2015 production run, which would be fine had a percentage of the respondents not been driving - you guessed it - current 2015 production vehicles. Anyway - you decide:
Tesla Reliability Doesn’t Match Its High Performance