By on April 26, 2017

tesla model x

Consumer Reports has been pretty hard on Tesla Motors over the past year. The primary point of contention in 2016 was the automaker’s perceived misrepresentation of the company’s Autopilot feature. CR wanted the automaker to disable hands-free operation until its system could be made safer and insisted that it make clear to consumers that it was not capable of true self-driving capability.

While Tesla addressed some of those concerns with its 8.0 software update last autumn, the consumer advocacy publication said it didn’t go nearly far enough — demanding that Tesla stop calling it Autopilot, disable automatic steering, and quit beta testing on its own customers.

Continuing those safety concerns into 2017, Consumer Reports has downgraded both of Tesla’s existing models, claiming the company failed to enable automatic emergency braking features it said would come as standard equipment. This is perplexing, as Model S and Model X vehicles equipped with first-generation Autopilot systems actually had this function. 

“When we purchased our latest test car, we were assured automatic emergency braking would be enabled by the end of 2016,” explained Jake Fisher, director of Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Center in Colchester, Connecticut. “We’ve been waiting for this important safety feature, which is standard equipment on much cheaper cars.”

The change drops the Tesla Model S’ rating by two points and removes it from the top spot in the publication’s ultra-luxury car category. It’s now positioned behind the Lexus LS and BMW 7 Series. For the Tesla Model X, the score drops to 56 from 58, placing it near the bottom of the luxury midsized SUV category. Consumer Reports hasn’t been particularly fond of the Model X due to severe quality concerns and a lack of practicality.

However, the issue isn’t so much about scoring as it is Tesla’s continued inconsistency. The publication places an emphasis on safety and predictability, appearing somewhat disdainful of the automaker’s approach to both.

Consumer Reports says it will gladly restore the points once the manufacturer includes AEB on the models, though its stance on the matter remains firm. In its announcement, CR accused Tesla of selling “premium luxury cars without basic safety features that come standard on far less expensive vehicles, such as the $20,000 Toyota Corolla.” It also accused the automaker of lying about update timelines and inquired about potential compensation for owners who have driven for up to six months without safety functions and convenience features they may have expected.

Tesla, which is already facing an Autopilot-related lawsuit that it calls “inaccurate and sensationalistic,” did not respond. However, the all-electric manufacturer has stated that it will announce a software update for Thursday that addresses concerns over automatic braking. If it does not, we’ll certainly hear about it from Consumer Reports.

[Image: Tesla Motors]

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12 Comments on “Consumer Reports Downgrades Tesla Models Over Safety Concerns...”


  • avatar

    In the past, I’ve accused TTAC of being unfairly harsh on Tesla, but this article and the complaints within it are completely deserved.

    Also, I’m glad publications are calling out the Model X for the logistical failure it is. That vehicle was a victim of Musk’s ego-based operation in every way that the Model S was the benefit of it.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      AFAIK, the key reliability issue with the Model X has been the gullwing doors, which were unnecessarily complicated. The question is: has Musk learned?

      Based on the fact that the Model 3 is apparently going to be a far simpler, easier-to-manufacture product, I’d say he has.

      • 0 avatar

        There are more problems than just that. The gullwing doors were a stupid idea, and everyone knew it, but he pushed them through. The Model X didn’t need to be attention-getting (in a world where everyone wants crossovers anyway), it just needed to hit all the same notes as the S in a more functional CUV package.

        Yet what we got was an awkward egg-shaped vehicle that lacks space and has seats that don’t fold. It’s basically removing the one selling point that CUVs have (functionality) while being more expensive and less attractive. Where’s my Cayenne fighter?

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Agreed on all points.

      The current crop of Kia Forte ads are very compelling for automatic braking in a cheap car. You’d think Tesla could have remedied this issue long ago.

    • 0 avatar
      orenwolf

      Absolutely correct.

      I don’t think Tesla should rush to implement this for v2 cars, but man, talk about a bad decision taking *this long* to rectify the issue. This is going to end in lawsuits, and not in Tesla’s favour.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    When I first saw this story, that Tesla was not shipping emergency braking as standard, I had the exact same reaction CR did: “I can get this in a $20k Corolla standard, but Tesla wants extra for it? Really?”

  • avatar
    mcs

    TTAC:”However, the all-electric manufacturer has stated that it will announce a software update on Thursday”

    What was actually printed in Consumer Reports: “In a statement to Consumer Reports, Tesla says it expects the software update to come Thursday.”

    So, they’re actually announcing the update now and shipping it out Thursday.

    Actually, Toyota has AEB on even cheaper cars standard. It’s standard on the $16k iA. My son got this ridiculously cheap insurance rate ($750/year) on his iA and we suspect that’s the reason.

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    “Guard the door. I’ll get a doctor. No one sees him like this.”

    -“The way of the future. The way of the future. The way of the future.”

    • 0 avatar
      True_Blue

      Even Hughes would eventually admit to some of his shortcomings. DiCaprio was nearly the spitting image of him in that film.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Except…what was Hughes going on about when he broke down?

      Jetliners. I seem to recall those being a thing about 10 years later.

      The man had issues, but being a visionary wasn’t one of them.


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