Consumer Reports said Thursday it no longer recommends the Tesla Model 3 after reviewing a high number of problems with their cars, including issues with its body hardware, paint and trim. CR members, the magazine said, reported the results in its annual reliability survey, which includes data on about 470,000 vehicles.
Ironically, The statement comes just a week after CR named the Model 3 “the most satisfying car” as a result of its owner survey.
That the Tesla is showing problems with assembly quality is perhaps not a surprise. The company, led by Elon Musk, has had a tumultuous launch, including having an outdoor tented assembly line, distribution and logistics problems that Musk has spoken and Tweeted about, and changing management staffs.
The Model 3 is the company’s most important model to date, priced to reach the masses instead of just wealthy early adopters of electric vehicles. When Tesla announced and showed the Model 3 in 2017, it received more than 400,000 pre-orders for the car. Later some 65,000 of those orders were cancelled. Still, the pre-order volume was extraordinary and a record in the auto industry.
“While Teslas perform well in Consumer Reports’ road tests and have excellent owner satisfaction, their reliability has not been consistent, according to our members, which has resulted in changes to their recommended status,” says Jake Fisher, senior director of auto testing at Consumer Reports.
“In most cases, reliability issues will undermine satisfaction,” Fisher said. “But when a vehicle has an enthusiastic following, like with Tesla, owners may overlook some issues. We’ve seen this with other vehicles such as the Jeep Wrangler and Chevy Corvette.
A Tesla spokesperson emailed CR that the automaker has made “significant improvements” to correct the issues that Model 3 owners communicated to CR. “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 spokesperson wrote in an emailed statement to CR. “We take feedback from our customers very seriously and quickly implement improvements any time we hear about issues.”
Model 3 owners in CR’s spring survey sample reported body hardware and in-car electronics problems, such as the screen freezing, which its testers have seen with other Tesla models. The latest survey data also shows complaints about paint and trim issues.
Some members have reported complaints about the Model 3’s display screen. “The touch screen would intermittently begin acting as if someone was touching it rapidly at many different points,” one member reported. “This fault would cause music to play, volume to increase to maximum, and would rescale and pan the map in the navigation system.”
The company has not yet manufactured a base-model version of the Model 3, which it has promised to sell for $35,000, which is roughly the average price car in the U.S. Instead, it’s produced versions with premium features, such as longer range, a higher top speed and all-wheel drive, which cost between $49,000 and $72,000. That was done to try to maximize early revenue from Model 3 manufacturing.
Shares of Tesla reacted, trading down about 3.5% in intra-day trading on Thursday. Tesla’s six-month low is $252.00. It’s six month high is $376.00. It is a notorious stock for day-traders and stock shorters.