By on May 22, 2018

Tesla Model 3, Image: Tesla

If you weren’t on Twitter yesterday, well, you picked a good day to stay away. However, if public battles between an automaker and the media is your thing, coupled with exasperating (and disturbing) displays of tribalism from the manufacturer’s fan base, Monday was a gold mine.

The social media brouhaha was a result of Consumer Reportsless-than-glowing review of the Tesla Model 3, which was found to have the worst braking performance of any contemporary car in the publication’s testing catalog. As Tesla disciples circled the wagon (one created a list of “bad journalists”), Tesla CEO Elon Musk responded to CR‘s findings.

Actually, Tesla disagreed with CR‘s findings even before publication. When contacted about the braking results, a spokeswoman cited a panic stop distance roughly 20 feet shorter than what CR averaged after several tests of both a Model 3 test vehicle and a privately owned loaner. Tesla claims 133 feet, CR says 152 feet.

(Note: this isn’t the first time Tesla and Consumer Reports sparred over a review.)

In her response, the Tesla spokeswoman made the puzzling claim that, “Unlike other vehicles, Tesla is uniquely positioned to address more corner cases over time through over-the-air software updates, and it continually does so to improve factors such as stopping distance.”

Musk made a similar claim in the wake of the report, responding on Twitter to a certain shareholder.

“Very strange,” Musk tweeted. “Model 3 is designed to have super good stopping distance & others reviewers have confirmed this. If there is vehicle variability, we will figure it out & address. May just be a question of firmware tuning, in which case can be solved by an OTA software update.”

He continued: “Even if a physical upgrade is needed to existing fleet, we will make sure all Model 3’s having amazing braking ability at no expense to customers.”

Responding to another Twitter user, the CEO said, “The CR braking result is inconsistent with other reviewers, but might indicate that some Model 3’s have longer braking distances than others. If so, we will address this at our expense. First time we’ve seen anything like this.”

Claiming that CR tested an “early production car,” Musk stated that he’ll request the publication test a newer example. That said, the CEO claimed lengthy stopping distances could indeed “be fixed with a firmware update” that alters the car’s anti-lock braking algorithm.

“Will be rolling that out in a few days,” he tweeted. “With further refinement, we can improve braking distance beyond initial specs.”

As parts guru Bozi Tatarevic (one of the bad journalists, who is not to be trusted) states, the Model 3 uses an electromechanical Bosch iBooster front brake system, which is basically a hydraulic system with an electric motor that helps generate brake pressure in a speedy manner. An over-the-air update that tweeks the system’s electronic control unit could shorten panic stop distances. Maybe. We’ll see.

It’ll be interesting to see what CR uncovers when it gets its hands on another Model 3. In the meantime, we’ll place the publication’s findings on a higher pedestal than the emotions of a rabid fanbase.

[Image: Tesla]

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22 Comments on “Them’s the Brakes: Musk Promises ‘Further Refinement’ of Model 3’s Binders...”

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    What’s the big deal…braking performance is on par with other top selling vehicles… Such as the F150 lol

  • avatar

    >Them’s the Brakes: Musk Promises ‘Further Refinement’ of Model 3’s Binders

    Musk also needs further refinement of his blinders.

  • avatar

    The equipment that makes the good brakes is still in Germany, Musk is waiting for it to arrive at the gigafactory.

  • avatar

    “There’s no problem here, but we are fixing it now!” Which is it Elon? Is it because they tested an “Early Production Car”? Or is the issue because of a firmware update to the ABS controller you haven’t released yet?

    But on the plus side, he and the Tesla PR department apparently took the proverbial chill pill today, because he didn’t personally insult them, question their intelligence or inform them that they clearly have no idea how to test cars. (Which is what they’ve done in the past if CR said anything but pure and unadulterated glowing praise.)

  • avatar

    Well, hopefully this fixes the problem. Worth noting: not every media outlet that has tested the Model 3 has had this issue – C/D borrowed one from a private owner for its’ test, and the braking results weren’t great, but not nearly this bad.

    My (admittedly unschooled) bet’s on faulty parts.

    • 0 avatar

      Wrong. They thoroughly tested their own example, THEN borrowed a customer car to confirm that the poor results weren’t a fluke.

    • 0 avatar

      Faulty parts on 2 different cars….hmmm.
      C/D had just very big variation in results: “Car and Driver, in its published test of a Model 3, said it noticed “a bizarre amount of variation” in its test, including one stop from 70 mph that took “an interminable 196 feet.”

      “I’ve been testing cars for 11 years,” Car and Driver Testing Director K.C. Colwell said in an interview with CR, “and in 11 years, no car has stood out with inconsistent braking like this. Some trucks have.. It was just weird.”

      • 0 avatar

        I’m no mechanic, but I’d have to think the culprit here is faulty parts (or faulty installation). In either case, brake issues are pretty easy to fix.

        But what’s concerning is that this fix should be needed in the first place.

  • avatar

    I finally saw a Model 3 last week (and took pictures).

  • avatar

    The Model 3 will be Tesla’s death knell.

    As it is, quality control and drive system longevity problems plague the Model S and X, and those lower-volume vehicles are not paragons of quality, but the Model 3 has exposed the non-viable status of Tesla as an ongoing, profitable concern.

    • 0 avatar

      @deadweight: The big trouble for them will be the Germans. The Mercedes EQC is going to be into the Model 3 price range. The base Porsche Mission E is going to be $75k (and in my state, $65k) and into Model 3 price range.

      With the Porsche, I’ll be able to get upgrades like 350 kW charging (compared with Model 3 120kW) and maybe a two-speed transmission. I’m sure that will put it into Model S P100D price territory, but it’s going to be an amazing car. Top that with the fact that Porsche has been testing the car on the Nurburgring. Usually, ring testing doesn’t impress me, but in the case of an EV, it’s going to give me a lot of confidence in the car. Also, we have one 350 kW charger in my state already with a second one on the way – both at gas stations.

    • 0 avatar

      Even if they resolve the brake issues and body panel alignment quality, the ergonomics are a non-starter for me. Having all of the instruments and controls in one central display looks stupid and needlessly difficult. If Tesla has to scrimp and save on costs so much that it cannot offer a speedo and display mounted in front of the driver, they should reconsider their value proposition.

      • 0 avatar

        Or at least HVAC vents that can be adjusted while wading through a touch menu!

        I’ve actually downloaded a PDF of the O/M, and in concept, looks like it could work! At a stop! In perfect weather!

        In the dead of night, in the middle of winter, with thick gloves??!! Nope!

        And if the screen is going to call for max volume on the stereo (as the Edmund’s tester did, and likely along with spontaneously tuning the most obnoxious of the XM hip-hop/rap channels, for good measure), that would take the thing off my list right there! Only way I want to lose hearing in a car is from airbag deployment!

  • avatar

    All I can think of is an ABS controller/ Regenerative Braking issue…nothing else makes sense mechanically. If there are Model 3’s out there with a 20-30% variance in braking distance it is certainly a serious safety issue…

    I hope it is just a Firmware OTA….Tesla could actually turn this into a win if they find, fix and update existing Model 3’s in a day or two…

  • avatar

    Doesn’t it give you the warm fuzzies that *braking performance* can be changed with an OTA update? I sure hope those are the most secure servers on the planet…

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