By on February 7, 2018

Palo Alto, we have a problem.

That’s essentially the message one Tesla owner had for the automaker, and one I couldn’t stop thinking about during yesterday’s excitement.

You see, on Tuesday, in a feat of technological prowess and bravado, Tesla CEO Elon Musk shot his personal Tesla Roadster into deep space by mounting it atop the final stage of the Falcon Heavy rocket — the latest and certainly greatest space vehicle constructed by Musk’s very own SpaceX.

After becoming the fourth car in space (GM built the first three for NASA’s Apollo program), and the first factory production car to leave Earth’s atmosphere, that Roadster and its dummy astronaut driver are now headed for a point beyond Mars, near the solar system’s asteroid belt. The plan is for the car to orbit the Red Planet, or maybe crash into it, who knows.

Mars is, on average, about 140 million miles from Earth.

However, Kingston, Ontario is a scant 215 miles from Cambridge, Ontario. That’s the distance one Tesla driver was attempted to span when the trip, as Margaret Thatcher would say, went pear-shaped.

The owner chronicles his first Tesla road trip (to the owner’s parents’ house for a belated Christmas dinner) in a Tesla Motors Club forum post titled “From Love to Hate in One Road Trip.”

The fateful journey began on January 27th. Having only picked up his base Model S 75D on December 18th, the owner says he was eager to show off the car’s long-distance capabilities to his kids — and especially to his doubting wife. Cambridge to Kingston is a simple run of no more than four hours, including bathroom breaks (or, for this driver, a 10-minute top-up at a Supercharger station near the halfway point).

The weather was balmy, with no snow in the forecast, and the presence of a Supercharger in Port Hope, east of Toronto, and at their Kingston destination would seem to make range anxiety and charging delays a non-issue. The car’s navigation system claimed the family would reach mom and dad’s house with 5.6 miles to spare (cutting it too close, for sure, but apparently doable for this unseasoned owner).

tesla model-s-rear, image: Tesla Motors

Unfortunately for the owner, Superchargers are only useful when the charger can connect to the car’s charge port. This situation reared its head at Port Hope, turning what was supposed to be an easy trip into a frustrating, time-consuming slog.

“I couldn’t connect to the Supercharger,” the forum member wrote. “An orange ring and a ‘could not connect’ was presented at the first stall…. and the second…. and the third… and the fourth….”

As we live in a connected society, our Tesla owner whipped out his phone and called the automaker for help. Surely there was a quick and simple solution:

I called Roadside who stated that it appeared that everything was fine with the car except that many cars with my build date have “tight charging ports” that often prevent them from connecting to the SC. It is apparently “a known issue”. He suggested wiggling it and hoping for the connection to take.

It didn’t.

After 30 mins of trying.

In the rain.

With not enough charge to get to our destination we found a public destination charger where we now sit for the next 90 mins to get enough charge to get us to Kingston. Except that we don’t have any charging solution there with the exception of a [Supercharger] which we can’t seem to connect too.

Tesla strongly suggested we take the car to a service center for repair. Which we obviously can’t – as it’s too far away, isn’t open until Monday and in the complete opposite direction. Fear note [sic] though – they’ll log the concern in my file. Crisis averted (note: that’s sarcasm – they were of no help at all).

It’s worth noting that a Tesla Model S 75D sells for $96,650 in Ontario, before the provincial government pulls 14,000 taxpayer-supplied dollars out of the coffer to lower the cost.

The model’s price, coupled with that fact it’s been in production for years, makes such a crucial fault seem laughably unlikely. However, other forum posters mention personal experience with hard-to-plug-in Teslas built in December 2017. (Jiggling the charger in the port, applying chapstick to it, and pushing with all your weight were some suggestions on how to get juice running into the battery pack.)

It’s a little concerning to see some forum members chastise the owner for not testing his vehicle at a Supercharger station (the nearest of which is an hour from his home) before setting off on his trip — an action the owner, as well as other posters, claims no one should have to do.

“My nearly six-figure electric car can’t plug in” is not a miniscule complaint that can be shrugged off with a “Well, that’s the price of being a trailblazing planet-saver. Go, Elon!”

No one purchases a new car in this day and age, for any price, and worries that the gas cap might render the car immobile. It might be the one thing a would-be owner doesn’t worry about during the car-buying process.

As for our owner, his family’s trip had only just begun. After cooling their heels at a public Level 2 (240V) plug, the family coasted into the outskirts of Kingston with 9.3 miles of range left. The car shut off the cabin lights and heat in a bid to conserve power when the “fuel gauge” showed 25 miles remaining.

Unfortunately, they were still 6.8 miles from their destination, and choose not to risk it. In another change of plans, the family spent the night at a friend’s house, trickle-charging the Tesla from a household 110V plug, before moving on to the grandparents’ home the next morning. There, they had arranged to plug their Tesla in at a nearby bed and breakfast, boosting the battery enough to get them back to the Level 2 charger in Port Hope.

Tesla Supercharger

During his stay in Kingston, the owner perused the replies to his post. When it came time to leave for home, he decided there was nothing to lose by making one more attempt to connect to a Supercharger. After all, there was one nearby:

After about 30 mins of trying with countless insertions I was pretty much ready to walk away. Giving all effort to push did nothing. It took two hands and bracing against the tire to remove the connection in most instances. With a resolve to try one more time I put an extreme amount of downward pressure on the charger as per the advice of one poster… and connected!

Crisis averted.

Charged for about an hour to around 375km and headed back to my family with the good news. A family breakfast – countless explanations on what the issue is and some hugs and we were on our way back.

Without enough energy to get back home a stop was required.

Back to the scene of the crime – and a stop at Port Hope.

Being an expert now on what to do I was able to secure a connection at this Supercharger – after about 20 mins of trying. Not ideal but serviceable. The trip home occurred without incident.

A happy ending to the trip, and perhaps a saved marriage, but what about this man’s relationship with his car and the company that sold it to him? The owner claims he still loves the car, though he plans to have the charge port fixed ASAP. Hopefully, an apology comes with the bill.

As for Tesla, the Ontario Model S owner isn’t letting them off the hook:

In terms of what could Tesla have done? I’m not unreasonable and the type of person who makes all sorts of silly demands. I would have been content with some empathy. I get that a service person on the phone can’t make mountains move on a Sat evening – but at least make me think you’re making an effort. I was fortunate that I’m resourceful and knowledgeable enough to come up with workarounds to make do. Had this been my wife or someone without as much EV knowledge they would have been screwed with little sympathy from the company that put them there. That’s not acceptable.

As for the Tesla fans who essentially blamed the owner’s plight on his lack of preparedness, he strikes a diplomatic tone in his response. He’d be forgiven for telling them to go to hell.

I’ve charged daily with my HPWC which uses a Tesla connector. No issues. I’ve used a couple of public chargers with the adaptors provided by Tesla with no issue. I’ve even used the mobile charger on occasion with no issue. Why would I suspect that the Supercharger would be any different? Especially given how recently my car was picked up for delivery. I get being prepared – but I think I was more than reasonable with my expectations.

Elon Musk can send a Tesla to Mars, but continuing build quality issues are still making some of his vehicles hard to drive on boring old Planet Earth. And, while Tesla fans are often the most forgiving of crowds when it comes to the company’s faults, Tesla wants mainstream society to embrace the Model 3.

Snafus like this, spread over many thousands of buyers, give conventional vehicles and the legacy automakers that build them a deserved reputation.

[Images: SpaceX, Tesla Motors]

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105 Comments on “Musk’s Tesla Might Make It to Mars, but One Man’s Factory-fresh Model S Couldn’t Make It to Mom and Dad’s...”


  • avatar
    George B

    A real car manufacturer would have issued a TSB to replace parts on cars with this issue plus they would have modified the dimensions of the connector at their company owned charge stations to avoid leaving some of their customers stranded.

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      This is not specifically directed at you, as I suspect many here share your sentiment.

      A real company apparently would have also been made aware of the problem and changed the part without changing the part number and without alerting owners. Then, when people start crashing their cars and customers start dying, would have issued a notice to not hang so much stuff from their keys.

      Also, does a single customer’s inconvenience in a Land Rover warrant and entire article about the ordeal?

      Making cars is hard as $4!+. Big and small issues arise in every line of cars – expensive or cheap. Constantly nailing one company to the cross for every failure starts to stink of a specific agenda. Something I thought I could escape here. If there is something specific behind it, like some sort of mutual feud, it should be made clear.

      I am not an Elon Musk fan, he seems like a smarmy prick. I don’t own a Tesla and I have no intention to – not that I would rule it out totally. I do own stock for a purely financial reason. I feel like reveling in the failures of a company on a by-car basis is not telling us the truth about cars.

      • 0 avatar
        MrIcky

        no axe to grind here, but beyond all those other things- the basics are you can ‘fill up’ the car and then drive it. If you can’t do that, then your car is useless. This isn’t a “building cars is hard” issue. That goes down to workmanship and panel gaps. Not being able to charge the car at a company sponsored charger is a step beyond that.

        GM was excoriated here for the ignition scandal thing, so I don’t think they need to bring it up now whenever another vehicle needs deserved criticism.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          “GM lied, people died” is a convenient meme here at TTAC (by some), but the inconvenient truth is that’s not how it happened.

          • 0 avatar
            jalop1991

            ““GM lied, people died” is a convenient meme here at TTAC (by some), but the inconvenient truth is that’s exactly how it happened.”

            There, fixed it for you.

        • 0 avatar
          Land Ark

          Fair enough. My ignition comment was more directed at the fact that Tesla’s validity was being called into question as not being a legitimate company. Certainly not that TTAC let GM off the hook.

          Remember there weren’t gas stations on every corner when the Model T came out, and Ford certainly didn’t build any afterward.

        • 0 avatar
          Thinkin...

          Remember those Chevy Cobalts where GM somehow forgot to install brake pads on the production line? And then there was the batch where steering wheels were falling off?

          Production issues happen to every company producing things. This is certainly not unique to Tesla.

      • 0 avatar
        Peter Gazis

        Land Ark

        I think you should sell everything you own and invest all the money in Tesla stock. When the people on Mars realize they could get a car delivered sales will explode.

        • 0 avatar
          RHD

          Why did Elon Musk send his Tesla Roadster to Mars?

          He found that to be cheaper than replacing the battery.

          .

          (Just kidding!)

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            “Mars is, on average, about 140 million miles from Earth.”

            It provides cover for a nice bump in the average estimated range mentioned in marketing materials. As well as showing that Tesla is now hedging their bets by being a player in the hybrid (electric/rocket) car market as well, rather than just a pure EV play.

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        Land Ark, many customers had an obvious problem with the Tesla Supercharger connector failing to fit the socket on Tesla cars. Rare case where one company has considerable control of both sides of the connection. The fastest short-term fix would be to see if a modified Supercharger cord could be designed, manufactured, and deployed that fit all Tesla cars while still being within the tolerances of the connector standard. If the connectors on specific VIN number cars are out of spec, the correct action is to replace those connectors so car owners can charge their cars. This is basic manufacturing stuff.

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      I doubt many of the “cool kids” at Tesla want to be bothered with what in my day was called “production engineering”. Tom Brady is the star until one guy on the O-line underperforms on a block and there’s a game changing turnover.

      If you read about Musk’s battery factory, it sounds like they have Japanese guys in there doing that kind of stuff – albeit stretched thin and overwhelmed.

      Musk needs to hire / contract some talent for his car factory with knowledge and desire in the Toyota Production System.

  • avatar
    civicjohn

    $100k and the owner still managed to keep his cool while being ostracized by the Tesla (dare I say) fan boys?

    Wow, simply wow. Sounds like the house key for the back door on the old house I grew up in. “Just wiggle it the right way, push down, not too hard, and you’ll get in the house”.

    I’ve got popcorn ready for the earnings call this afternoon. I thought the SpaceX launch yesterday was great, very impressive and with the exception of the middle booster missing its target, hey 2 out of 3 ain’t bad. But if you visit any of the pro-Tesla sites, you would think the launch fixed all of the problems of the Model 3 ramp up (maybe karma, I suppose).

    • 0 avatar
      Nick_515

      ok, i’ll bite. what would you have done besides being a little angrier with the people on the phone and on your social media?

      • 0 avatar
        civicjohn

        I never would have paid that kind of money for that car if that was my experience.

        Understand that I live 4 miles from a dealer, have visited numerous times, even took a test drive. I’m waiting for a Model 3 to show up. I kind like the idea of just plugging the sucker in and driving away.

        But if I had the same issues this guy had, I’d be on their door steps to hand the keys back, lawyer notified.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      The guy is Canadian – they are freakishly nice people.

      Could be worse, twice now at least, my Tesla owning buddy has had the charge cable not release from his car. Tesla had to send a mechanic to his house each time. That’s about a five hour round trip from the nearest Tesla facility. Gold plated service for sure, but seriously?? Nevermind all the other issues he has had with the thing. And my other acquaintance who has a newer one is having the exact same issues with his.

      These cars are super cool, very expensive pieces of crap.

      • 0 avatar
        Nick_515

        krhodes, it is a bizarre and super inconvenient failure. but when you clearly like the product and bought it, it’s unreasonable to expect someone to disown it at the first problem. besides, he was pretty much out of options as he obviously realized. my point was, I might have thrown a tantrum, but basically, i’d have been in the same boat. Like I said though, I don’t think this damns the car, but it sure is bizarre and just unfortunate.

        • 0 avatar
          George B

          Nick_515, manufacturing electrical connectors that correctly mate and unmate is a skill that even Chabuduo! corner-cutting Chinese manufacturers of home appliances seem to master. This is a rare problem where one company, Tesla, has in-house control over both sides of the connection and even the retail outlets plus lots of useful feedback from loyal customers.

          • 0 avatar
            Nick_515

            I get it! Not letting them off on it at all, because it is indefensible.

            But, if I’d thought this over – which I would, for a long time, and decided to buy in – I would not write the car off there and then.

      • 0 avatar
        civicjohn

        +1

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    So after many articles about Superbowl car ads, this is how ttac celebrates the astonishing achievement by the person behind Tesla cars. The person so many here decry as an idiot and fraudster. Did you watch the (previously used) bosters land, Williams?

    And, Williams, you got the destination wrong. It’s a solar orbit, not “a point beyond Mars”.

    Do you have nothing to say about the meaning of a car, as opposed to anything else, being an artifact in such an orbit? The humor compared to, say, NASA? The resources Musk must have that can be brought to bear on producing cars?

    No, you prattle on and on about one car owner’s problens. How very small.

    • 0 avatar
      Garrett

      Username checks out…

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      His last name is actually “Willems” not “Williams”.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Touchy.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Agreed, brandloyalty. Steph’s protestations about having an axe to grind about Tesla/Musk are betrayed by this statement:

      “‘Palo Alto, we have a problem.’ That’s essentially the message one Tesla owner had for the automaker, and *one I couldn’t stop thinking about* during yesterday’s excitement.”

      Even during a moment of national pride and unprecedented technical achievement in spaceflight, all Steph can think about is a Tesla customer whose car needs a new connector.

      When Boeing finally gets their CST-100 crew capsule to fly, all I’ll be able to think about is how many Boeing planes have crashed over the years, or how tight their seats are in economy class.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        ” That’s essentially the message one Tesla owner had for the automaker”

        Don’t you think all those owners with burnt Teslas had more messages?

        Besides, the problem here is not the fact of the issue, but what kind issue that was.

      • 0 avatar
        djsyndrome

        “When Boeing finally gets their CST-100 crew capsule to fly, all I’ll be able to think about is how many Boeing planes have crashed over the years, or how tight their seats are in economy class.”

        Their seats are tight in economy class because the cut-rate airline you chose to fly spec’d them that way. Boeing would build them hanging from the ceiling if their customers asked.

        • 0 avatar
          Middle-Aged Miata Man

          Minor point of order, but Boeing doesn’t build seats. Suppliers like Recaro, Zodiac, LIFT and Rockwell Collins supply cabin seating built to the airline’s specifications.

          That said, the planemaker did just announce last month a new joint venture with automotive seating supplier Adient, but any results from that partnership are still years away.

      • 0 avatar
        carguy67

        “… how tight their seats are in economy class.”

        To be fair, the airlines dictate the seating configurations, not the manufacturer.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          “To be fair, the airlines dictate the seating configurations, not the manufacturer.”

          To be fair, some guy’s problem with his new Model S has nothing to do with a SpaceX flight. But the author is bent on conflating the two.

    • 0 avatar
      MrIcky

      What “meaning of a car, as opposed to anything else, being an artifact in such an orbit”…would you like to ascribe?

      This is a car site. This site often talks about stories of individuals and their cars. The timing is ironic and pointed out for being so.

      It’s not really comparable to NASA because they don’t design consumer products, do they? If they did, it would probably be quite unattractive and be able to fail 4 different ways before becoming unusable- and I guaran-dam-tee the plug would fit before it launched.

      Musk pulled off something cool with the space launch, but the car in space was just a little media symbol adding to the space junk.

      • 0 avatar
        brandloyalty

        “What “meaning of a car, as opposed to anything else, being an artifact in such an orbit”… would you like to ascribe?

        This is a car site. This site often talks about stories of individuals and their cars.”

        I don’t know. Given that Musk could have used anything to simulate the weight of a payload, I thought car fans might approve of the choice of a car. (Assuming it was Musk’s choice to begin with.) Maybe not a musclecar, but still a sportscar. What will history make of this? Does this herald the end of the car era or recognize its permanence? Is it a good joke or not?

        • 0 avatar
          MrIcky

          I appreciate that he sent an old Tesla up there. It made a good and humorous photo op. But I don’t think the Tesla car in orbit is all that meaningful.

          Private industry has been launching rockets for a while. This one is cool because of it’s size and reusable boosters, but it seems to be getting more credit than it deserves for being pioneering.

          Wow, now that I think about it, this is following the exact same trajectory as everything else Tesla does with the press.

        • 0 avatar
          civicjohn

          Good fodder for the earnings call, still no solid guidance on Model 3 shipments.

          But TSLA has beat Apple by a long shot with respect to the stock movement having no correlation with potential future earnings.

      • 0 avatar
        civicjohn

        Tell me where to buy SpaceX stock. TSLA, not so much.

    • 0 avatar
      addm

      Brandloyalty I kindof agree with you. I have invested in tesla stocks. But you cannot change people who are not willing to change or open to honest discussion.
      Story about an experience of a single customer is always propaganda. You have to know the denominator to make an informed choice. Its very dishonest on part of TTAC to make a story out of it without knowing if it was a significant issue on Tesla vehicles.
      But then less believers there are, better will be rewards for owning stocks if Tesla is successful.
      Those who dont believe, should short Tesla rather than wasting time educating me.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Harcourt Fenton Musk. Spreading the con to outer space.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      Con men can’t build complex things that work, other than crime organizations. Integrity is essential to making complex things that work. Lying and cheating is incompatible with complex systems. This is why terrorists are only capable of blowing things up, not building things like aircraft. They can’t even invent and make the explosives they use. Musk’s accomplishments signal a high level of integrity.

      • 0 avatar

        Excuse you, “Musk’s accomplishments signal a high level of integrity.” No, no they do not. He lies, immediately demonstrably so, every time he sets a goal for profitability or production numbers. Tesla is currently production constrained by their paint shop. There’s no way they can manufacture the number of units they have been claiming they will.

        Musk doesn’t accomplish things, he takes all the credit for the hard work and engineering design of his employees.

        Tesla has never made a true GAAP profit, the one quarter where they showed a profit the books were cooked more than a Trump steak. They are still using ZEV credits to shore up their shaky financials, and eventually the music WILL stop. But it will never be Musk’s fault, it’s always someone else’s fault, the suppliers, or the materials, or the partners. Musk has badmouthed every former partner they’ve ever had. It’s like the old quote from the series Justified “You know that old saying, you run into an arsehole in the morning, your ran into an arsehole. You run into arseholes all day, YOU’RE the arsehole.”

  • avatar
    sirwired

    It is, of course, unreasonable to expect every car to be free of defects. But, oh lord, those fanboys… chastising him for not performing a test-charge before setting out on a road trip? Really?

    I can’t fault Tesla’s response; if you had a new Honda and it needs help in off-hours, the best they can do is summon a tow truck to haul the thing to the dealer; getting you to your actual destination is not their problem.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    I view Tesla as sort of like buying a less reliable Alfa Romeo at this point. Sure, I would absolutely love to own and drive either of them. However, I also love getting to work on time every day, being there to pick up my kids from soccer, swim, etc. Being constantly on the move throughout the day and not having a third car to fall back on in my household, I simply cannot look to Tesla as a legitimate daily driver at this point.

    I understand the superfans and the kool aide. Tesla probably represents the future, or at least an idea of what the future could be. It is exciting, even moreso if you can be a part of it. At the end of the day though, the company is teetering on hope and dreams but somehow has a market cap greater than several great automakers who have been in business for a century, sell millions of vehicles, etc.

    I guess we are all dreamers and live in a country built on hope and dreams

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “I simply cannot look to Tesla as a legitimate daily driver at this point. ”

      Point taken, but you do know that most Teslas are daily drivers, and reliable, not collecting dust in their owners’ garages?

      I wouldn’t start worrying about range unless you’re driving over 200 miles a day.

  • avatar
    Landau Calrissian

    My grandma’s Cadillac SRX had a similar issue about a year ago; something went wrong with the canister ventilation system, so it was not accepting fuel when she tried to fill it up. Can we get an entire TTAC post about that single car having an issue as well?

  • avatar
    slavuta

    I bet, battery pack didn’t go to Mars. So the car will be totally useless for Martians.

    As for this guy… or any person… spend 90 grand for Tesla? when you can get damn Maserati with Ferrari engine in it?

    Mr Musk, please add a file to the car toolbox!

  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    Not having any experience with EVs of any make, I’m baffled by how making physical electrical and data connections can be so mechanically challenging. I understand that given the voltage involved that safety is critical, but how can it be that the tolerances of the connectors are so unforgiving as to make it impossible for equipment from the same manufacturer to quickly and positively attach?

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      As an engineer with a lot of connector experience, I’m baffled, too. This bug is unacceptable. I had no idea it was a thing with Tesla.

      • 0 avatar
        Asdf

        Tesla’s entire charging process is fundamentally broken, not just the connector. And it’s painfully evident, too, by the extremely long time it takes to charge the vehicles.

        • 0 avatar
          Maksym

          @asdf
          I don’t understand why these vehicles are not designed to be charged by two Superchargers simultaneously, one on each side like semi-trucks filling up diesel.

          Especially considering Tesla has designed a semi.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      It’s so challenging due to having software developers in management, instead of actual mechanical design engineers who have learned the ropes on their way up.

      I’m willing to bet that most of the design staff at Tesla have never even cracked open a SAE standards manual. We had full, updated sets of those at three of my different workplaces, and I used them on a regular basis.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      If I were to guess, the charge port was moved to a different supplier at some point, and the dimensions on the new one were just enough smaller to cause problems.

      • 0 avatar
        ClutchCarGo

        But even with that, consider the humble 240V appliance like a clothes dryer. I can effortlessly plug one into a standard 240V outlet (that may have been built 50 years ago) with a standard 3 prong plug. Different manufacturers, different decades of manufacture. Even given that the Tesla charging port has to carry data and operate safely outdoors in all weather conditions, why would the tolerances on the charger and the port be so exacting that it would fail to connect in so many cases?

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          @clutchcargo: “I can effortlessly plug one into a standard 240V outlet…”

          I had my kitchen rebuilt and they put in the latest/”greatest” 120v 20a outlets. These things have a protection mechanism in them to keep kids from doing things like jamming in a screwdriver or whatever into the slots. Some of those outlets can be a challenge to get a 3 prong plug into them. You have to know the tricks and subtle motions to plug into them.

      • 0 avatar
        turf3

        That’s why you have drawings, with tolerances, and you do a tolerance stack to make sure that tab A will fit into slot B with all the allowable variation in A and B.

        That’s also why you have a supplier QA department and an incoming parts inspection department.

      • 0 avatar
        derekson

        If the tolerances are this tight and they missed this on a supplier changeover their QA engineers are incompetent.

  • avatar
    Foaming Solvent

    To be perfectly accurate, Boeing built the first three cars in space, the Lunar Roving Vehicle. GM was a subcontractor.

  • avatar
    Asdf

    Musk may be able to distract the world with his rocket show for a few minutes, but the fact still remains that he’s unable to implement even the most basic of features in his cars, which therefore only apply to EV Luddites.

    It’s a complete disgrace that it takes longer to charge a Tesla than to fill a tank of petrol. No wonder Musk needed to use a rocket as a method of propulsion to acquire some mileage on his own Tesla, because battery-powered Teslas are chronically crippled by charging downtime.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Distract the world with his rocket show? You have to read between the lines here. This rocket show means that Israel now has the best Heavy Launch system on the planet.

      A fact not lost on Israel’s adversaries and enemies.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      @asdf: Your refrain on this subject is as reliable as the sunrise.

      In the interest of balance, please COPY-PASTE your comments in the threads for other EV brands as well, especially Nissan, GM, BMW, Ford, Hyundai/Kia, and VW.

      All these mfrs are guilty of duping hundreds of thousands of customers over the years, which must be why EV sales continue to climb.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Asdf, it’s not a disgrace that it takes longer to charge a battery than to pump liquid into a fuel tank. Completely different processes. It would be bad if the actual time to charge a Tesla car at a Tesla quick charging station had been misrepresented by Tesla. It IS a disgrace that Tesla lacks the internal processes to make sure connectors mate properly. When Tesla employees see Tesla customers are telling other Tesla customers to apply lube and push harder, alarm bells should be going off.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      The fact still remains that ICE carmakers are unable to implement even the most basic of features in their cars. It’s a complete disgrace that you have to make a special trip just to charge an ICE vehicle, instead of being able to do it overnight at home while you sleep.

      (For the humor-impaired, this is a snarky response to Asdf, not something I actually believe.)

  • avatar
    stingray65

    How did the fail – let us count the ways.

    1. The S is the oldest and most produced Tesla model (nearly 6 years old) and they still haven’t perfected a reliable charging port?

    2. The “tight” charging port problem is well known on Tesla discussion boards, but apparently Tesla still hasn’t fixed the problem. What makes this problem far worse is this is NOT a problem of a stupid customer using the product improperly (unlike the Audi unintended acceleration or the GM ignition key), and the Supercharger network is designed and built by the same company as the car (Tesla) so there should be no compatibility problems.

    3. The Tesla dealer apparently doesn’t test this known issue before delivering the car? I always get a full tank of fuel when I buy a new car – apparently you don’t get a full “tank” when you buy an $100,000 Tesla?

    Perhaps they will get this ironed out by the time Elon’s roadster gets to Mars?

    • 0 avatar
      Middle-Aged Miata Man

      Amen. If this had occurred with a Model 3 it would have been bad, but perhaps somewhat forgivable given production bugs in a new design. That the Model S should be perfected technology by now is pretty damn incriminating.

      As bumpy ii noted above, I’ll bet Tesla switched to a (cheaper) charging port supplier and rushed through the test process to bump up its Q4 delivery numbers. That is flat-out unacceptable behavior.

      As for SpaceX and Falcon Heavy, yesterday’s launch was a pretty stunning achievement and the rocket should be a moneymaker for the company. Much as Tesla is rushing to “New Roadster!” and “Semi!” while Model 3 production continues to falter, however, Musk is already – and foolishly, IMHO – moving SpaceX to scrap FH and the core Falcon 9 booster in favor of his grandiose “big f***ing rocket” (BFR) that he believes will not only function as an interplanetary spaceship, but even a point-to-point international transport a la Concorde to the nth degree.

      Sometimes it’s nice to settle down and perfect your existing technology first, Elon…

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        It was great but not stunning [achievement]

        Great because this is only functional heavy rocket today and costs less per launch than upcoming Boeing and SLS. Russians also have plans to do it again an may do it cheaper as well.

        Not stunning because, at the end, main module did not return and this is not the heaviest rocket ever by payload – 64 metric tonnes. Russian Energiya was 100 metric tonnes. (talking only of those that flew)

      • 0 avatar
        jhefner

        One thing I read awhile back that is that pioneers like Elon Musk and Steve Jobs are great at startups; but falter when things move to the production stage. That was how he got kicked out of Apple and went to start Next Computers; only to return when Apple got ready to enter the next phase of the Internet connectively and idevices. But even then; I imagine Jobs kept his hands off of the day-to-day operations.

        Steve and his team still seem stuck in the startup phase; always coming up with new and unique hardware and breaking new barriers while neglecting getting anything moving into mass production and keeping QA constant. Until he takes his hands off the controls or sells Tesla and SpaceX to another company that seems to be the mode he is stuck in; always reaching for the next big thing while never perfecting anything and moving it to mass production; where the real profits are.

        • 0 avatar
          jhefner

          Sorry, should have proofread better:

          “Musk and his team still seem stuck in the startup phase; always coming up with new and unique hardware and breaking new barriers while neglecting getting anything moving into mass production and keeping QA constant. Until he takes his hands off the controls or sells Tesla and SpaceX to another company that seems to be the mode he is stuck in; always reaching for the next big thing while never perfecting anything and moving it to mass production; where the real profits are. They haven’t even gotten Model 3 production to the levels where it should be at when they are pitching the semi, pickup, and the next roadster.

          • 0 avatar
            brandloyalty

            Isn’t Musk clear that his primary goal is disruptive superior technology, rather than run profitable businesses?

  • avatar
    vvk

    As a counter point, I have 28k miles on my 10 month old Model S with several very long trips and many successful supercharger sessions. The situation with this guy’s defective charging port is unfortunate but let’s not blow it out of proportion. The car has probably already been fixed under warranty.

    • 0 avatar
      Middle-Aged Miata Man

      I’ve been around aerospace long enough to have seen numerous smaller (and largely ego-driven) companies burn their relationships with Tier 1 suppliers over issues like non-payment, or endless quibbling over final design, leaving Tier 2 and below as the only ones willing to answer their calls.

      Sure, the parts are cheaper and supposedly “on spec” but there will always be tradeoffs. I wonder if we aren’t seeing something similar here with Tesla.

    • 0 avatar
      civicjohn

      Brand Loyalty,

      If that’s the case, PT, I mean EM, should not have taken the company public. Supposedly, there is some mumbo-jumbo in taking a company public that the officers of the company have something about “working in the best interest of the investors” (obviously not the exact words). I’m guessing that intent is somewhere in the SEC filing paperwork.

      So no, he doesn’t get to play the “greater good” card with TSLA.

      Kinda like SpaceX is still private.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Romulans won’t be buying Tesla’s anytime soon. If they used their cloaking device or plasma arrays they wouldn’t have enough of a charge left to return to the neutral zone.

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    My wife and I had a discussion about Elon last evening. I told her that I marveled at his accomplishment with the Falcon Heavy as it is far, far beyond what I saw as a 9+ year old with old Alan Shepard and his 15-minute jump into space, oh, so many years ago. Very cool to see the two side-boosters landing together. His SpaceX successes are due to a lot of “how it really works” knowledge obtained from decades of failures experienced by others along with some new implementation of old ideas. Elon has put together a fantastic team of technical “eggheads” to accomplish this feat. This team had a reasonably focused goal and, with some not unexpected problems along the way, succeeded brilliantly. But the hiccups with Tesla may be a byproduct of a lot of technical “egghead” focus and not nearly enough real-world “this is how it will really work” input into the game especially since Tesla has a much broader goal – building vehicles for daily terrestrial use by many different people all over the globe. Charging port connection dimension changes/modifications/sourcing, which should be considered a very important part of the product, might have been a decision by a technical “egghead” for some obscure technical/financial purpose without any “how it will really work” thought to it. I worked with both nuclear and chemical engineers and have seen this happen elsewhere, repeatedly. And, no. I’m not Elon-bashing.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Agreed on your points.

      A lingering concern I have with Tesla is this: I’m afraid the company culture is still tuned to ‘first adopters’, when it needs to be sensitive to conventional expectations instead.

      If I’m still a Model 3 reservation holder when they ask me to configure my car, I’ll balk if I can’t test drive it first. I’ll balk if I can see the trim misalignment 20 feet away. I’ll balk if I can’t read the display. And I may balk at the price before anything else.

      Those 500k reservation holders aren’t just transferring from Audi, BMW, and Mercedes; many of them are upgrading from Toyota, or in my case, Kia.

      • 0 avatar
        civicjohn

        If you are contacted to confirm your order, you still can’t buy a base model.

        I think they may be having a bit of a problem figuring out how to make a profit on the base model. That, combined with the tax credit that will most likely be gone by Q3, will drop the reservation number but you will never hear that from TSLA. They appreciate that so many people will throw $1k their way as they don’t book it as “refundable”.

        Again, bats**t crazy.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      This would certainly explain the gull wing doors.

    • 0 avatar
      Felix Hoenikker

      Bull Nuke.
      We are very close in age. I was 9 1/2 when Alan Shephard took that historic ride into space. I remember watching the launch on our 19″ black and white “portable” TV. I was hooked and watched most of the successive launches up to including the first moon landing in 1969.
      Having worked as a chemical engineer for 34 years, I agree with what you wrote about the abstract vs the applied aspects of the trade. I entered the field as an egghead, but was quickly converted after I made a major experimental discovery in the arcane filed of oxygen flammability that could not have been predicted by theory. Later I moved into catalyst development where the rule was theory is fine but “show me the numbers” was the rule.
      It’s very easy to let the accountants cost cut you when things seem like they are handled. More often than not, that cost cutting comes back to bite you hard later

      • 0 avatar
        bullnuke

        I was usually (but not always) able to jerk folks back into reality through either passive-aggression (uttering, “No, don’t do that. No. Don’t.”, in very low but audible tones) or through what was termed “Malicious Compliance”, usually at a time prior to total disaster where complete and absolute compliance with abject stupidity was helpfully given to the letter of the requirement with the all-too predictable negative outcome. Maybe what is needed today is a few malcontents (such as, sadly but cheerfully, I was and remain) to keep thing stirred up to snap a few people to the reality of the world. I am not hopeful given all the money, influence, chutzpah, and internet “truths” floating about.

  • avatar
    Null Set

    Youze guyz would love LA. Every rare car on the streets here. And they all work! Even the Maseratis.

  • avatar
    IHateCars

    I thought that it was a cool publicity stunt….does that pic remind anyone else of the first scene in Heavy Metal?

  • avatar
    PandaBear

    Tesla could have done better, that’s for sure.

    But, new cars and use cars can have problem and can breakdown in the middle of a trip. You just can’t guarantee that 100% up time. What the guy should have done is to call AAA or any other road side assistance service and get to his parents’ place first, instead of finding a friends’ place to stay the night and charge up, or hoping around desperately for a charger. I am not blaming him, but these things do happen and he need to get used to it even if he drives a nice car like Model S.

    This is 2018, we have Uber/Lyft, we have AAA for towing. He could have just park the car somewhere and get a ride then ask Tesla to foot the bill ($200 for towing?). My head gasket blew in the middle of a 800 miles trip, and I drove to the nearest Hertz and rent a car to continue. If you can afford a Tesla and you are only 7 miles away from destination, you can get a ride there and deal with the car later.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    YET another article about Tesla building quality. Personally I’ll avoid Tesla and buy something from a car maker with better reliability scores. Jaguar has an electric car coming out in March….

  • avatar
    Shortest Circuit

    There are reasons why there are no 1969 Chevy Biscaynes orbiting the Moon at this moment.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    “After becoming the fourth car in space”

    Lunokhods 1 & 2 were the Soviet vehicles on the moon. Technically, the Russian vehicles were the 5th and 6th vehicles, although driven remotely.

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    I am surprised you didn’t bring crippled children and baby seals into this story somehow. On the other hand, this story has the same amount of sensationalism as someone sending a Tesla into space just for the hell of it.

    yel·low jour·nal·ism
    noun
    noun: yellow journalism; plural noun: yellow journalisms

    journalism that is based upon sensationalism and crude exaggeration.
    “equating murder and dismemberment with smoking pot is the worst yellow journalism”

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    Purchasing a Tesla at this point in time is a huge leap of faith, IMHO.
    .
    .

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    I don’t know of any car owner who doesn’t at least try to test all of a new car’s functions within a week of purchase–including hitting any charging facilities needed. As a new car owner, you are responsible for ensuring you’ve received the car in fully functional condition and they are responsible for the same. If the service center where they took delivery didn’t have a functioning Supercharger on the lot, that would be one thing but I would honestly be surprised if that were so.

    Which raises a totally separate question: Why is he blaming the car? Had he charged at any other Supercharger location, ever? The article certainly suggests not. Was there something in the car’s charging port physically blocking the plugs from seating? Or maybe somebody had glued or stuffed the plugs’ sockets with a piece of paper, rubber or something The problem may not be his car at all but rather a dead charging station, for whatever reason (we do know some stations have been sabotaged before now.)

    So, the owner didn’t test before taking off on the trip. The owner had never hooked up to any Supercharger location whatsoever and has no idea whether the charger works on the car or not–only assumes so because he can’t charge at the one location he tried. If you ask me, there’s a severe lack of data in the complaint and a severe lack of responsibility by the buyer.

    Yes, I’d be upset if it didn’t work too, but this is as much the owner’s fault as it may be Tesla’s for not testing it before committing to a long-range run so soon.

    • 0 avatar
      RogueInLA

      Really? Spend 90K for a car, and you’d check to make sure you could put gas in it before taking it for a long drive? I think most people are going to assume that a NEW vehicle is going to function as advertised. Charging a Tesla is a pretty basic operation, why would you assume it’s not going to work? Also, if you read the article, it’s a problem with ALL Teslas built in the time frame of this buyers car.

      Nah, this one’s on Tesla, not the owner.

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    I know of one Tesla that can travel millions of miles without being charged.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I don’t blame the owner for not testing his charge port out. He bought a near six-figure car that’s been in production for some time, you don’t drop that kinda bread expecting port issues.

    If this were a GM the mood here would be very different. We wouldn’t be blaming the owner, dastardly spies, nor pointing at the fact other carmakers slip up. It’d be the manufacturers fault.

  • avatar
    Carzzi

    Less forgiving owners might contemplate taking a flamethrower to the offending car. Luckily, Elon’s got them covered.

  • avatar
    ceipower

    Join me and go back to 1976…I just bought a brand new 1976 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. I drove it off the lot and 2 miles away to the local mall. When I turned the ignition key to shut the car off I heard a metal clanking noise. The key came out , but would not go back in. No amount of jiggling the switch or wheel helped. The car was not going anywhere. I had 2 miles on the odometer. The dealer sent a flatbed to pick it up and I was given a loaner. Now , realize GM has been building cars for a few years and this ignition switch was the same one they had used for several years. My Point? Shit happens , it isn’t fair and never seems to happen at a convenient time. I don’t worship at the Elon Alter and chances are slim I will ever be able to afford a $100 grand automobile. After the Cutlass was “fixed” it was a wonderful car to own and I bought two more Oldsmobiles after that.

  • avatar
    pwrwrench

    I think this problem is due to the safety issue. There are high voltages used to charge the batteries rapidly. So the Charging station checks all the connections before energizing the circuit. Probably there is communication back and forth with the car. Once the ‘ping-pong’ handshake is successful charging should begin. Something is not completing in this.
    I’m with some others who have commented, as I worked in aerospace for 15 years and saw the same, “Engineering/design says it works. What’s the problem?” “Do you know how much it will cost to change that?”, “Send them out that way until we get the revised part.”

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