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Consumer Reports Drops its Tesla Model 3 Recommendation Over Quality Issues

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【Summary】Tesla’s rush to deliver the new Model 3 sedan to customers may have led to quality control problems at the automaker’s Fremont, California assembly plant. Consumer Reports criticized the reliability of the company’s new Model 3 sedan and dropped it from its list of recommended vehicles for consumers.

FutureCar Staff    Feb 21, 2019 5:15 PM PT
Consumer Reports Drops its Tesla Model 3 Recommendation Over Quality Issues
The 2018 Tesla Model 3

Tesla's rush to deliver the new Model 3 sedan to customers may have led to quality control problems at the automaker's Fremont, California assembly plant. Consumer Reports criticized the reliability of the company's new Model 3 sedan and dropped it from its list of recommended vehicles for consumers.

Problems reported by Model 3 owners include loose body panels and glass defects, the consumer watchdog organization said. Consumer Reports experienced some of the problems firsthand, when the glass in the back window in the publication's Model 3 test car cracked while the car was parked during a severe cold snap.

"Consumers expect their cars to last—and not be in the repair shop. That's why reliability is so important," said Jake Fisher, senior director of automotive testing at Consumer Reports.

The announcement sent Tesla shares lower in today's trading. Tesla's stock price dropped sharply after the news was released this morning and was trading around $291.23, down 3.5%, by this afternoon.

Consumer Reports dropped the Model S luxury sedan from its recommended list last year, while the Model X SUV failed to receive any recommendation due to its own quality problems, among them is the Model X's problematic falcon-wing doors.

Despite the problems, most Tesla owners are extremely loyal many owners say that they still love their cars. The Model 3 retains it high ranking in Consumer Reports' customer satisfaction survey, which gauges buyer satisfaction over time.

Tesla is also suffering from slow response from its customer service representatives, inability to get cars serviced, and weeks-long waits for replacement parts.

Chief Executive Elon Musk acknowledged the company' service problems in a call with analysts last month. He said the company is reconfiguring its logistics system and introducing a smartphone app so customers can book service appointments more conveniently.

This is the second time in less than a year that Consumer Reports in in the spotlight over reviews of the Model 3. In May of 2018, Consumer Reports removed its "buy" rating for the Model 3 over brakes that took too long to stop. Testers noted that the sedan took 152 feet to stop from 60 mph, which was 7 feet longer than the stopping distance in a full-size Ford F-150 pickup.

Tesla's response was to quickly prepare a OTA software update to tweak the Model 3's braking performance, which worked. After retesting and confirming the fix, CR reinstated its "buy" rating.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk praised CR in May 2018 after its report, tweeting to his millions of followers on the  social media platform that "Tesla will always refute articles that are misleading and point out if there is someone with a pattern of doing so. Many fit this description but Consumer Reports is always fair & accurate in their criticism."

In a prepared statement from Tesla about new issues with the Model 3, the company emphasized that many of the sedan's quality problems have already been addressed.

"We're setting an extremely high bar for Model 3. We have already made significant improvements to correct any issues that Model 3 customers may have experienced that are referenced in this report, and our return policy allows any customer who is unhappy with their car to return it for a full refund. This new data from Consumer Reports comes from their annual Owner Satisfaction survey, which runs from July through September, so the vast majority of these issues have already been corrected through design and manufacturing improvements, and we are already seeing a significant improvement in our field data."

The Model 3 is Tesla's first mass-market electric car and key to the automaker to maintain profitability, so Tesla cannot afford to have any ongoing quality problems with the car. Tesla sold over 145,000 Model 3s last year, making the fully-electric car the best-selling luxury vehicle in the U.S.

The timing of the report comes as Tesla is delivering Model 3s to customers for the first time in Europe.

resource from: Consumer Reports

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