Tesla Comes Dead Last in J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey

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【Summary】The first year the all-electric automaker was included in the market research firm’s study, it comes in dead last.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Aug 03, 2020 6:00 AM PT
Tesla Comes Dead Last in J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey

For consumers shopping around for a new vehicle, J.D. Power's Initial Quality Survey in an important tool that can either sway people to an automaker or away from another. Often used as a benchmark, for new-vehicle quality, the study reveals which automakers have a handle on quality issues on new 2020 model-year cars. 

Despite being in its 34th year, the 2020 Initial Quality Survey from J.D. power was an important one because it marked the first time Tesla was part of the study. Unfortunately, based on Tesla's performance, we're sure the electric automaker is looking to put the study in the past as quickly as possible.

Quality Issues Remain

There's no way of getting around this; Tesla came in last place in the survey with a score of 250 problems experienced for every 100 vehicles. While that score puts Tesla in dead last among nearly every other automaker on the market, the electric automaker isn't officially ranked in the study because it fails to meet certain ranking criteria.

"Unlike other manufacturers, Tesla doesn't grant us permission to survey its owners in 15 states where it is required," said Doug Betts, president of the automotive division at J.D. Power. "However, we were able to collect a large enough sample of surveys from owners in the other 35 states and, from that base, we calculated Tesla's score."

Saying Tesla had a score of 250 problems experienced for every 100 cars isn't much without context. For one, the closest automaker with nearly the same number of problems was Land Rover, which scored 228 problems experienced for every 100 vehicles. The industry average is 166 problems experienced for every 100 cars. Dodge and Kia were at the top with 136 problems.

Infotainment Systems Pose Issues

For 2020, J.D. Power's U.S. Initial Quality Study was based on responses from 87,282 new-car purchasers and lessees of 2020 model-year vehicles. These purchasers were sent surveys to complete after 90 days of ownership. Surveyors have to complete 223 questions that are organized into nine categories: infotainment; features, controls and displays; exterior; driving assistance (new for 2020); interior; powertrain; seats; driving experience; and climate.

While the results are a massive blow to Tesla, the study is more of a helpful guide and not the only document new-car shoppers should to utilize to find their new car. J.D. Power's survey doesn't really allow for surveyors to differentiate between actual defects and design-related issues. 

A surveyor may not like the way an automaker does something, which he or should could mark down as a "problem." Also, infotainment systems proved to be one of the most problematic areas on new cars, accounting for roughly one-fourth of all problems. Tesla's infotainment system is unlike any other automakers on the market, which could lead surveyors to note that it has many flaws.

Tesla has had large problems with quality ever since it introduced its first car. While this is the first time Tesla has been included in J.D. Power's Initial Quality Survey, the market research firm did make note of quality issues as early as 2017. Back then, the firm stated that new vehicle owners were willing to look past problems to be early adopters. 

It seems like more and more people are buying Teslas and are looking for similar quality that they would find in another brand. Clearly, that isn't happening.

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