Tesla made good on part of its promise to update the "defective" brakes on the Model 3 that resulted in unexpected and unacceptably long stopping distances during testing by both Car and Driver and Consumer Reports.
The $59,000 Consumer Reports Model 3 vehicle tested was purchased by Consumer Reports. The company plans to "rent" a Model 3 from Tesla to verify that the updates have been applied to newer Model 3 cars.
Buying cars without revealing that they will be headed to testing is one of the things unique about Consumer Reports. Few publications do this. The safety group IIHS also tests cars that it buys. The Model 3 car it purchased failed to earn scores high enough to qualify for the Top Safety Pick Plus designation. Headlight adjustments may be part of why that happened. Had IIHS asked Tesla for a car, the car maker may have taken special care that a private buyer would not have benefitted from.
Tesla updated the firmware of the Model 3 and Consumer Reports has re-tested the car. Elon Musk tweeted the following regarding the brakes on the Model 3:
Looks like this can be fixed with a firmware update. Will be rolling that out in a few days. With further refinement, we can improve braking distance beyond initial specs. Tesla won’t stop until Model 3 has better braking than any remotely comparable car.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 22, 2018
The stopping distances are now 19 feet shorter. In its summary of the braking improvements, Consumer Reports noted, " Musk suggested in a tweet last week that the company would make the Model 3’s braking performance the best in its class. Although this update improved the car’s stopping distances, the braking performance is not class-leading. So for Tesla to make good on Musk’s promise, it may need additional updates to the braking software."
Although this brake correction demonstrates again Tesla's impressive and industry-leading over the air updating capabilities, the real question here is why Tesla, now on its fourth model, and about to enter its fifteenth year as a company, is still releasing products before they are fully tested and vetted.
Torque News will follow up and report further progress on the Model 3's braking system to see if Elon Musk keeps his word regarding the car's brakes having "better braking than any remotely comparable car."