By on August 13, 2014

Tesla Model S

Though the Tesla Model S is one of Consumer Reports’ recommended darlings, the premium EV garnered its share of reliability blemishes during long-term testing.

Consumer Reports’ Gabe Shenhar says that over the 15,743 miles he and his colleagues have spent driving the Model S, a number of problems have popped up, including:

  • Automatic retracting door handles “relucant to emerge from the coachwork”
  • A broken seat buckle in the third row seating section
  • Front trunk lid failing to release via touchscreen
  • Said screen going blank, blocking all access to the car’s functions

Shenhar noted every one of these problems were quickly remedied by the service center in Milford, Conn. or over-the-air from the mothership in California.

He concludes that the sedan’s reliability ranking may fall a bit when the publication’s related survey is examined in September, but only if other Model S owners have had similar problems occur with enough severity and frequency to merit a downgrade.

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72 Comments on “Consumer Reports’ Long-Term Tesla Develops Reliability Blemishes...”


  • avatar
    pragmatist

    It’s a highly complex machine. What do you expect.

    The screen blanking is, I fear, part of the brave new world for used car buyers (such as myself). All the manufacturers have gone whole hog into integrated electronic controls, and if there’s one thing we know about this technology from phones and computers is that they crap out.

    Phones and computers are standalone devices readily replaced. Automotive electronics is an expensive nightmare.

    The days of a car being usable for 15 or 20 years may well be over.

    • 0 avatar
      GranMarkeez

      “broken seat buckle in the third row seating section”

      I was unaware any sedan had three rows, much less this one.

    • 0 avatar
      Halftruth

      I think the bugs will get worked out and like anything else, reliability will improve. These are minor issues either way. Tech is great but there has to be a fail-back if your only access to the machine goes blank.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        If you think modern electronics are awful, check the vacuum-actuated controls in some older iron.

        They don’t make’em like they used to, thankfully.

        • 0 avatar
          geozinger

          Agreed. You’ve had to live through the days of vacuum controlled emissions controls (and windshield wipers!) to appreciate how far we’ve come…

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            My Thunderbird has hydraulically powered wipers. Reliable as long as you keep your power steering in good order.

          • 0 avatar

            My ’97 Jetta VR6 has vacuum-operated central door locks. It is equipped with an original keyless-entry system, so it’s always odd to press the unlock button and then hear that whirring delay for a couple of seconds before the locks disengage. If there’s ever a leak in the system—and there might already be—it’s going to be a complete pain to get in and fix it.

          • 0 avatar

            Those diagrams on the hoods and slam panels of older cars always scared the hell out of me. No way would I want to chase down a problem in that kind of system!

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            The Germans and their vacuum door lock actuators. Mercedes used them in the 70’s and 80’s (maybe into the 90’s?) as well.

          • 0 avatar
            05lgt

            Ah yes. The good old days of behavior engineered traction control. No one is going to floor it in the rain if it shuts off the wipers.

        • 0 avatar
          bk_moto

          I had an ’84 Mercedes 300D which had vacuum-controlled door locks, climate control, and engine stop solenoid.

          I remember spending many hours with a handheld vacuum pump and the the vacuum system service manual (yes it had its own service manual) tracking down vacuum leaks so my door locks and climate control would work properly.

          You’d push down one door lock and the rest would pop up, or the engine would fail to shut off when you turned the key off because there was no vacuum to actuate the fuel shutoff solenoid…

          Luckily there was a big lever under the hood on the injection pump that said ENGINE STOP for you to push in the event that happened. :-)

        • 0 avatar
          Windy

          My memory of the old days the The 50s and 60s is one where when you bought a new car you had a pencil and note pad on the dash for making a squawk list the you hoped would be rectified when you took it in after a few days to have the break in oil changed. And do you remember having to break in a new car or an engine rebuild?
          Even on a Cadillac or Lincoln continental that list of bugs could have ten or more items. And the proscribed method of breaking (or running in for the UK ) in could be quite comprehensive with both rpm and speed needing to be increased a bit each day or at set milage intervals

          I had no squawks on my last new car a 2004 MINI. In the last ten years I have needed to replace (other than consumed items like tires and filters etc.) only 2 parts both more damaged by bad roads than just worn out. We can in many ways be thankful that they don’t build them like they used to.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      As with all new cars, buyers expect the features they purchased to work. Tesla is no exception, expecially since it costs a lot.

      • 0 avatar
        jpolicke

        Danio, thanks to you I learned something new today. I never heard of hydraulic wipers before! One of Ford’s less than better ideas.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Glad I could enlighten you to the church of fluid powered accessories! They were common on Lincolns and the Ford versions of Lincolns. I haven’t had any issues with mine and I haven’t heard of many problems with them from others. It’s a bulky and sometimes noisy system, but it works.

        • 0 avatar
          onyxtape

          A coworker had an old Beetle that uses the air from the spare tire to pressurize the washer fluid reservoir.

          • 0 avatar
            bk_moto

            All the old air-cooled VWs were like that! (except for the Bus because the spare was mounted in the rear while the washer bottle was up front – these just had a schrader valve on a hose screwed onto the top of the washer bottle that you pressurized directly from the air hose at the gas station.)

            And it sounds like a terrible idea on its face, robbing air pressure from your spare tire to pressurize the windshield washer but they cleverly included a valve in the system that would not let the air pressure in the spare tire drop below 26 psi so you’d always have sufficient air in the spare tire.

            The design of this system then resulted in a pressurized hose full of washer fluid running from the washer bottle into the car to the button on the dash (or later the lever on the steering column) which had the release valve, then from there to the nozzles. The interior hose on my dad’s Beetle once burst while crossing the Rockies when the ambient air pressure was no longer high enough to keep it from rupturing.

    • 0 avatar

      +50

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      The thing is though – it is NOT a complex machine. An S-Class has features in it Tesla could only DREAM of having. This is fundamentally a pretty simple car. It has two tricks – it uses no gas, and it has that gigantic touchscreen. Otherwise it is pretty pedestrian for features and barely qualifies as a luxury car by the standards set by the big Germans. And they still haven’t got it perfect. Which is no surprise to me at all.

  • avatar

    This is kind of telling for Tesla as a company. Of course they modeled themselves on Apple, but they wish they could make people pay three times the cost of the actual hardware. Take a look at any PC vs any Mac product, you can generally buy 2 or 3 PCs/devices for the cost of 1 Mac with performance that meet or exceed the Apple device.

    Studies have shown that Apple has JUST AS MANY hardware failures as the other device/PC manufacturers. They gain a fair amount of customer loyalty by replacing most failed devices for customers free within the first year or longer if you buy the extra warranty (though you did pay 3x the cost of the hardware to get it*, they can afford to replace devices left and right without cutting into profitability. *not applicable to brand new generation of phones of course manufacturing costs and content are high).

    But Tesla did the engineering with the batteries (and a number of those packs have failed for customers, and were replaced under warranty), it would be almost impossible for the electric motors to fail unless the supplier were cheaping out on materials, etc.

    So what’s left to fail? Electronics, door handles, seatbelts, of course. Maybe they were holding the door handles the wrong way! Like that Apple phone people were blocking all reception/dropping calls when they held it in their (left?) hand. Apple gave everyone cases so your greasy, conductive fleshy-bits wouldn’t interfere with their pristine antenna.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      3x? Only if you use some $300 black friday computer as your benchmark and you place zero value on a good screen, weight, footprint, SSD, etc. I’d say a 50% or less premium is more accurate these days. For example, a 4GB ram, 128GB SSD, 13″ Macbook Air is $999. A 4GB ram, 128GB SSD, 11.6″ Dell XPS 2-in-1 is $899 after a $380 on-site discount.

    • 0 avatar
      koshchei

      Your data about Mac hardware failures hasn’t been true for some time.

      Your performance delta also isn’t an apples:apples comparison. While you can spec a faster computer using off the shelf parts for a slightly lower price, you won’t be getting a PCI-E SSD, a calibrated display, or the tiny footprint.

      To quote Zappa, “A mind is like a parachute. It only works if it’s open.” I suggest that you take another look.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      I was amazed by the first generation iPad and plunked down $700+ for it. Fast forward 3 (4?) years and the “old” iPad is not completely compatible with the latest OS upgrade so it crashes every 20 minutes or so. Similar problem with my iPhone 4; upgraded the operating system, phone starts crashing.

      Apples solution to both problems: you need to buy new Apple devices! Stupid you for using 3 year old technology. Until then I was a happy Apple customer; now I have 2 Android phones and am going to get an Android tablet.

      If Tesla takes a similar approach to crashing hardware/software there are going to be lots of very unhappy used car buyers out there. How well Tesla supports their product in the years ahead is a question mark; residual or used car values are a guess at this point.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        In all fairness, the first-generation iPad had a good life. Ditto the iPhone 4. There’s a lot more services that you’re asking those devices to provide that simply didn’t exist when they were in the design stage.

        If you don’t want to use new features, don’t upgrade your phone. Your iPad will work just as well with iOS 4 as it did when it was unboxed.

        I’m not sure what the alternative would be. In embedded-device circles, Apple is actually _much better_ than the normal when it comes to offering updates and support.

        (signed, BlackBerry PlayBook owner & QNX dev, Windows Mobile 5 developer, Palm developer, former Galaxy Nexus owner, former Lumia 900 owner, former Amiga enthusiasts; boy, can I pick’em)

        • 0 avatar

          Exactly. As a matter of fact, I upgraded from an iPhone 4 to an iPhone 5S very recently, and up to then everything worked perfectly with the latest software. If you consider that I got my iPhone 4 in 2010 *making it ancient by smartphone standards*, it’s very surprising that Apple supported it this long. Ditto for my mid-2009 13″ MacBook Pro, which is no longer my newest or daily-used machine, but which is still compatible with the latest software. Apple products can be a bit fragile—like the aluminum panels that can dent and the glass screens that can crack—but overall, to buy one is to make an investment in something that you know will be relevant for quite some time to come, at least five or six years. I can be a bit hard on my electronics, but I’ve spent a lot less on Apple products than I spent having to replace Androids and Windows computers once a year like clockwork. An added bonus of Apple products is that even though they may switch motherboards and circuit designs between versions, they don’t release 20 different models a year in one market, which means that even each version of a product (such as my “Late-2013 13″ MacBook Pro Retina”) has been well-studied and almost every issue has a remedy documented by someone, somewhere.

          • 0 avatar
            afedaken

            (Disclosure: I’m an IT Guy)

            Ya know what? I realize they’re consumer electronics, and not automobiles, but damn, how about a thought towards serviceability and repairability?

            I like the performance, but I’d also like to be able to reasonably repair damage, or swap for performance components. Just did a diagnostic on a buddy’s 2011 air. Could be a dead board, could be ram, doesn’t matter since it’s all soldered on to one board.

            My Asus is 4 years older, and probably twice as heavy. But like an old 4 door dart, it’s easy to locate parts, plenty of room in the case, and with routine maintenance just keeps on working.

            Business Dells and HPs are even better; a bigger pile of boneyard parts, wider reuse of common components and modules, and SERVICE MANUALS.

            I like Apple ergonomics. I appreciate thier approach to design and materials use. But if there’s ever been a company to weld the damn hood shut? It’s apple.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            (Disclosure: I, too, am an IT guy)

            Maybe the reason Apple’s hardware lasts so long is BECAUSE the hood is welded shut. Far less risk of an amateur sticking their fingers in and screwing up a perfectly functional machine. Sure, it makes it more difficult for us pros, but we CAN pay the fee and become Apple certified. Until then, it’s hands-off for anyone NOT certified.

      • 0 avatar
        ExPatBrit

        I think you have that the wrong way round. We have owned a bunch of Android phones and tablets.

        Android is a cluster**** when it comes to software upgrades.

        Within 18 months it’s done, and you have to resort to stuff like rooting to get the latest.

        All the different flavors of Android + some very poorly written inconsistent apps act against it.

        My old Iphone 4 ran fine on the latest IOS, it also maintained it’s value and I was able to get $200 for it.

        The average 3 year old HTC/ Samsung is a throw-away.

      • 0 avatar
        Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

        And yet, Apple has the best support for older devices in the cellphone/tablet industry. 3+ years of support is unheard of among any other devices in their class.

        Incidentally, it’s also unheard of among automakers as well, except for Tesla. How many other cars get functionality adds via firmware updates after 1 year, let alone 3? I can tell you from (disappointed) first-hand experience that Volt does _not_.

      • 0 avatar
        Motornik

        Not to disappoint you to horribly, but just a couple of months ago I was forced to upgrade my not exactly 2 yr. old android phone for the very same reasons. It was no longer getting updates (as HW was not compatible with latest android releases) and it was crashing all the time. Once I was no longer able to reliably use the primary function – that making the phone call part I had to junk it and get a new one. It is my work phone and I have to use android as this is still the only option. As a side note, I have an iPhone 4 (4 yr. old) at home that is heavy, clunky, and slow compared to my new Galaxy. However it still works, holds the battery charge and does NOT crash.
        I am not trying to start the argument here, just want to share personal experience and my suspicion that the “planned obsolescence” for consumer electronic devices is the fact of life, no matter who manufactured it.

      • 0 avatar
        Chris FOM

        Well, you won’t have to worry about new software updates messing up a 3-year-old Android device, since nobody supports them that long. Even the Nexus line is only good for 18-24 months of software support.

      • 0 avatar
        onyxtape

        Just unload the iPad on Craigslist. The halo effect boosts prices beyond anything reasonable. I had a 5-year-old iPod Touch (2nd generation?) that I got as a gift ($250 new) and sold it for $130, scratches and all 5 years later. It’s insane.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      “… you can generally buy 2 or 3 PCs/devices for the cost of 1 Mac with performance that meet or exceed the Apple device.”

      That depends on your definition of “performance”. If you’re talking about speed, then yes, I’ll agree. On the other hand if you’re talking about reliability, that’s a different story altogether. I make my money off of fixing other people’s computer problems and 99.9% of my income comes from those “2 or 3 PCs/devices for the cost of 1 Mac”. Now, I’ll grant that the vast majority of THAT comes from the operating system itself, but the average Mac still tends to remain effectively functional for the the sequential lifespan of those “2 or 3 PCs/devices for the cost of 1 Mac”. As an anecdotal example, I have an early Intel MacBook, over 9 years old now, that is still as functionally capable as the day it was purchased brand-new.

      Now, how does this relate to the Tesla? Take another look at the issues CR reported. Take a look at the fact that Tesla was able to repair several of the issues without ever even touching the car. Compare that to ANY other car being sold today. Sure, it’s not perfect; neither is the Mac. But it appears to me that it’s proving significantly more reliable than other cars in its price range and cheaper.

    • 0 avatar
      rsfeller

      Yes I’m an Apple fanboy at home…but a PC nerd by day at work. I buy dozens and dozens of both system every year for home and work. I know both systems well and I am only responding because I hate the “theory” that Apple PCs are 2/3/4 times more expensive then Windows based hardware…it’s simply not true. They are a premium but at best 1.5 times. If you did your research you’d find that most PCs in fact do cost close (or the same) as Apple ware when spec’d the same. Just because an Acer costs $400 and Apples cheapest laptop is $999 doesn’t make them similar in any way.

      I can tell you that well made Windows based hardware has about the same failure rate as Apple while the cheap windows stuff is 2 to 1. Usually power boards, batteries, screens and HDs all day on those Acers we buy so much!

      Lastly…Apples do fail. We buy a lot of refurb and new and they both fail about the same. Usually video and charging boards…but…

      Apple has great infrastructure (if you live in a larger city) to drop it off, pay $300 and have EVERYTHING wrong fixed on a $1500 out of warranty laptop. If Telsa is falling in suite with this model they will do just fine assuming they are building their electronics to a considerable quality level…which I sure they are knowing the Musk and the cost of these.

      Give it time…in 10 years this company will be major player and making cars at all price points…don’t think? Then you didn’t invest in Apple 10 years ago like I did!

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    True Delta is giving the Model S a big frownie face and is calling it one of the most unreliable cars. A friend of a friend has been updating facebook with his Model S trevails and is at repair 4 is 3 months of ownership. It’s been more unreliable than his Land Rover. OTOH, Tesla’s concierge service style is something he’s enjoying, even if its pretty regularly.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      Back in the early 80’s, I dated a young lady whose parents had given her a 1st gen Honda Accord as a graduation gift. These cars did not do well in the rust belt and within two years the front fenders had rusted through (nominally faster than other cars of the time, admittedly) and there were various issues with the emissions controls, sagging interior panels, etc. The dealer was very good about taking care of the issues, many times for free or warranteed, but my argument was how great is the car if you have to take it back constantly? At some point there is the hassle factor, even if they give you “concierge” service.

      Not really meaning to dump on Tesla as I think the cars themselves are really neat, but sooner or later the inconvenience of having a car in the shop becomes a real issue.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        At that point you’ve given a pretty poor simile, since the Honda Accord is a pretty reliable car today. All you’ve done is emphasize the teething pains of producing something new and different.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      This is actually more important: I think that if Tesla can keep its early adopters delighted with service, that’ll show the rest of the market how customer service is supposed to be done.

      Listen, Model S is the first car produced by the company from the ground up, apart from resourced parts (that Tesla integrated). Not just the first of a model type or a refresh, the first _car_. I think Tesla, from all I’ve read and heard, have treated their customers better than just about any other manufacturer/dealer. Presumably, they’ll get the kinks worked out of their systems before they have to scale such levels of service to mass-market volumes, it remains to be seen. But Tesla has already survived beyond the point most pundits and haters reckoned they’d have died at long ago.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Just another instance of CR recommending a car before the verdict is in on actual reliability. This certainly isn’t the only Model S long term tester with issues. These problems are mild compared to what some other publications have experienced.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Well, if you look at their stats, the car is actually scoring average to above-average in reliability. That’s based on user-reports, and is the same methodology they use elsewhere.

      They wouldn’t be being truthful if they adjusted their scores based on what their own long-term tester was doing.

      Until actual Tesla owners change their stance, there’s not much CR can really do without gaming their own system.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        If that’s what their data shows, that’s what it shows I guess. Still, it probably would have been prudent to hold off for a bit because above average reliabiliaty doesn’t seem to be at all congruent with other groups are reporting.

        • 0 avatar
          psarhjinian

          They generally give it two model years before they’ll slap a Recommended on a car unless it’s predecessors have a history of solid reliability.

          The Model S didn’t get Recommended until this year.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    Edmunds long-term test of the Tesla shows a shockingly large number of problems. In addition, while praising many things about the car, they still suggest that it doesn’t stack up well in the end against the more traditional cars to be gotten for a similar price. My sense is that Consumer’s got ahead of itself on this car.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Yes, the 3 drivetrain replacements and 1 battery replacement in the Edmunds car were soft-pedaled by Edmunds.

      Lately, Elon Musk addressed that specific car, declaring that Tesla’s approach has been to service the car quickly, without wasting the customer’s time on root cause analysis.

      If I can physically fit into a Model 3, it’s the top candidate as a replacement for the Leaf. But Tesla has to satisfy me (and many, many others) that these major quality issues have been addressed.

    • 0 avatar

      They also got ahead of themselves on FR-S/BR-Z. Now both are rated “worse than average”.

      Years ago, they had the same prob with saturn. I bought a new ’93, when they were recommending it, and by the next year their assessment had plummeted. And indeed, it was a problematic car.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        On the other hand, my ‘first year on the market’ 2002 Saturn Vue has remained a reliable machine for over 12 years, finally needing the clutch pack replaced after 130,000 miles. Then again, I got the 4-cylinder with sport 5-speed transaxle and not the V6 automatic.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    “Said screen going blank, blocking all access to the car’s functions”

    Blue Screen of Death, anyone?

    • 0 avatar
      Eiriksmal

      The Windows kernel crashes with the awesome blue screen of death. Linux kernels “panic” and crash to the first terminal, which is a black background with white text. Based on CR’s description given, I’d say when the Ubuntu-dervied Linux kernel in the Tesla crashes, apparently it stops updating the X display and shows a black screen instead.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        If they use X-Windows in an automotive ICE, they should be shot.

        • 0 avatar
          Eiriksmal

          I wasn’t aware that using a 30-year-old windowing system was grounds for murder. What’s more stable than X? A homebrewn, Tesla-invented system? Yeesh.

          • 0 avatar
            psarhjinian

            “I wasn’t aware that using a 30-year-old windowing system was grounds for murder.”

            It is. Motif in particular is justifiable homicide.

            Any other display server would be better in an embedded environment. There’s a reason why, eg, QNX developed Photon and didn’t just write or port an existing X server.

        • 0 avatar
          WildcatMatt

          When will someone hack it to run xscreensaver?

    • 0 avatar
      Avatar77

      Could make the “death” part of that all too literal if it happened at the wrong time!!

  • avatar
    redav

    This is an example of how the permeation of the silicon valley method of production is a bad thing. The notion of minimum viable products & fast revision cycles has never been okay with me–even on my computer–and it’s far worse, inexcusable actually, in cars. My company decided to implement the same philosophy and we are experiencing a similar lack of robustness in new designs.

    Many criticize the knob & button lovers for being Luddites, but in over 13 yrs I never had a single failure or error with the cheap, traditional stereo system in my previous car. The new infotainment systems are honestly quite simple in their scope, but they are so poorly programmed that even the best of them is merely mediocre while the average unit is less stable than a mircrosoft beta test.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Considering how many of those touchscreens are running on Microsoft- or Android-based operating systems, it’s pretty obvious why the programming is so poor. Even Ford has abandoned Microsoft for its My Ford Touch systems.

    • 0 avatar

      Baruth had a superb article on this issue, and why it’s so. I wish I could find it.

      • 0 avatar
        Eiriksmal

        It was the article that caused me to fall in love with him and realize there’s hope for automotive journalists.

        https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/its-getting-hot-in-here-so-turn-off-all-your-motors-and-your-abs-too

        (mostly because I’m a software developer and found myself laughing out loud and vigorously nodding my head throughout the entire article)

  • avatar

    Well, these seem to be software glitches. But now the Model S can definitely say it fits into the upper-crust family. The Tesla is attracting a lot of people who are moving up from non-luxury brands, but this car also attracts established luxury customers. And it’s not like this second group is foreign to having a 6-Series Gran Coupe in the shop for six weeks because of turbo issues, or a prematurely-collapsed air suspension in a Range Rover.

  • avatar
    cbrworm

    I suspect that most people who buy a Tesla understand that they are a part of the beta test of the future. There are a few who just buy it because it is expensive, unique and green – they are the ones who will be disappointed.

    I would like to have one (aside from the cost), but that’s because I’m a techno-geek and love the idea of new technology. And I have been burned many times in the past by that love, from ordering things that never made it to production, to having things burst into flames in front of me. It’s made me wary, but I still like to play with the new stuff first.

    That being said, my DD is 9 years old with close to 200K on the odometer. and it has knobs for most functions – which all still work.

    • 0 avatar
      Zykotec

      I believe you are right for the most part. Here in Norway it may be different because they are completely tax excempt here (an old rule the government made to increase the sales of ‘green’ cars, that is now icking them in the face, they also don’t have to pay on toll roads and can drive in bus lanes), so a lot of ‘normal’ (upper middle class I guess) are buying them instead of other large sedans.
      On the other hand, these people shouldn’t complain as they are being ‘given’ a pretty decent, quick luxury car with lots of fringe benefits for just above stripper 5-series/A6 money…

  • avatar
    kkop

    15,000 miles is ‘long term’? Even my motorcycle needed longer than that to break in.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      That’s over a year’s worth of driving for a typical American car. Most reviewers don’t keep cars longer than that (curse you model year revisions!)–so, yeah, it’s appropriate for a “long term” test.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    Let’s not forget that CR’s life and blood is reliability. This reflects the worldview of their Camry-owning readership, but it’s not a huge deal for everybody.

    I expect my fridge to operate reliably, quietly and economically for at least 20 years, but I like a bit more spice on my cars. So what if there’s an occasional glitch that’s immediately fixed?

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      So what if there’s an occasional glitch that’s immediately fixed?

      If your fridge breaks, Sears doesn’t come over with a much nicer one, unload your food into it, swap them out, then do the reverse after they fix your fridge.

      I think early glitches, if handled awesomely by Tesla service, could actually end up selling a lot more of them, after word spreads and folks wonder WTF they’re putting up with shit treatment at their legacy dealer service.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      This – and a touch of conformational bias.

      If you overall are happy with your car, you may not report that “glitch” that a dealer fixed with a tech just coming out to the parking lot and releasing a stuck latch for free (as an example)

      If you’re not happy, you probably will report it.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    I don’t ask or expect Tesla’s Model S be perfect and continue being perfect for years to come. What I do expect is that Tesla will always be right on top of these issues and fix them in a timely and as painless a fashion as possible, which as far as I know, is exactly what is happening.

    Tesla seems to understand that a car with so many new technologies isn’t going to be flawless, but those flaws can be largely mitigated by quick, personal, pleasant, competent customer service…not to mention by being early adopters the earliest of Model S owners are also essentially beta testers for Tesla’s future products, meaning those flaws will likely be fixed in future product.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      And that’s exactly what Phil Lebeau said yesterday when this story aired on CNBC/NBR, that Tesla was right on top of these things.

      Tesla went from production of a few thousand per year to several thousand per year and is expected to produce in the hundred thousands per year in the very near future. It’s all part of the Research and Development of its new technology. They’ll get the bugs out.

      EVs, PEVs, and Hybrids are not for me but I do think they should be available to anyone who wants to buy one, as long as they are not subsidized at taxpayer expense.

      I expect to pay full-pop for a vehicle I choose to buy. Let EV, PEV and Hybrid buyers do the same.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      “but those flaws can be largely mitigated by quick, personal, pleasant, competent customer service”

      That’s largely the innovation that Lexus (and weirdly, Saturn) brought to the table. People who buy expensive cars expect to be treated well and not have to fight with the dealer, or have the dealer fight with corporate, to get things done. Lexus dealers have a _huge_ amount of leeway to get things sorted out on Toyota’s dime.

      Saturn was similar, only it was that the generally excellent customer service allowed the brand to excel despite the problems with product. Saturn had the kind of brand loyalty rates that, well, Lexus had, right up until GM completely emasculated them.

      Tesla is smart to use that same model. People will forgive problems if you can turn fixing the problem into a customer-service win—especially when the kind of experiences the buyer is used to getting are German-marque style “sign here, next to the row of zeroes” ones.

      • 0 avatar

        In my experience Saturn was less than stellar. I had a (bought new) ’93 with the oil use problem, and I spent a hell of a lot of time and even money (they made me spend $300 (around $450 in current $) to fix a tiny, tiny leak before they’d check the oil usage, which was almost always due to valve and ring problems).

        I think the brand loyalty was partly because the first gen Saturn was a really nice car to drive, much sportier than most family sedans of the era–and it looked the part. The second gen was nothing special at all.
        https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/the-truth-about-saturn/

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          My experience with a brand new 1996 Saturn I bought for my daughter’s HS graduation gift was less than stellar also.

          Although my daughter never abused the car using it solely to get to and from college on US70, the problems were numerous, albeit all under warranty.

          After she graduated college and got a job in California the warranty expired but the problems continued even though all she used it for was the daily commute on I-5.

          Among the problems, the manual transmission lost first gear, the handbrake mechanism broke, the sunroof handle mechanism failed, with the final straw being a blown headgasket to the tune of >$1000 in cost to repair.

          Rather than fix it again, she traded that POS Saturn for a brand new 2000 Corolla and learned that life could be good, without car breakdowns and without the insecurity that comes with every GM product.

          At least the Saturn didn’t kill her.

  • avatar
    RogerB34

    Minor but expensive for Tesla to repair.
    The major problem not solved is the requirement for higher battery energy density. No solution.

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