Tesla’s projected reliability is moving down in multiple surveys. The latest evidence is Tesla moving to the second-to-last spot in projected reliability according to the industry leader in vehicle quality data, Consumer Reports. In a nutshell, the reason is the poor quality of the new Model Y crossover which the brand launched earlier this year.
To learn why Tesla did so poorly we spoke with Consumer Reports’ Director of Auto Testing, Jake Fisher. He began our discussion by pointing out that the Model 3 sedan is a “recommended” car from CR. However, by contrast, the data Consumer Reports has from Tesla owners is showing clear warning signs of reliability and quality issues with the new Model Y crossover.
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Jake points out that many of the problems reported by Tesla Model Y owners in its surveys are what some might call cosmetic. For example, human hair was found by a Model Y owner in the vehicle’s paint. Misaligned interior trim panels are more common examples of minor issues. However, multiple reports of rear hatches so poorly installed that they won’t close point to more grave concerns. This new ranking draws both from new Model Y survey data and historic data for Tesla models in operation longer.
Readers of Torque News may remember that we reported Consumer Reports’ low projected reliability ratings for the Toyota Tacoma a few years back. This was after the Tacoma had a run of a decade with nearly perfect reliability ratings. Consumer Reports correctly predicted problems with that vehicle’s new transmission using the same methods it is now employing to predict Tesla’s reliability of 2021 models.
Tesla has had a tremendous two years. Its Model 3 and Model Y now dominate their “segments.” These hit models’ sales are adding up to a considerable chunk of very valuable market share once enjoyed by legacy brands. However, the rapid pace of growth at Tesla may also be the reason for its poor quality reports from Model Y owners.
Members of Tesla Facebook groups and online Tesla forums regularly post images and pleas for help from fellow owners on the topics of mystery braking, panel gaps, interior trim defects, and other quality-related issues. Yet, when ranked low in quality by groups such as J.D. Power, and now Consumer Reports, Tesla owners tend to react as if the brand is being conspired against. We find that quite interesting. It seems to point to a deep love for the brand and an unrivaled loyalty by owners. Of course, an owner can love a vehicle but still report defects in their vehicle. While Tesla struggles with quality and reliability, enthusiasm and loyalty are not problems of the brand by any means.
Author Note: Normally, we would reach out to a brand’s PR contact to allow the brand to have their say and give the story proper balance. However, Tesla doesn’t have a PR department and does not respond to media requests for comment. The last paragraph is our attempt at doing the missing in action Tesla PR department’s job for it. Feel free to have your say in the comments below.
View the Consumer Reports Brand Rankings page here.
John Goreham is a long-time New England Motor Press Association member and recovering engineer. Following his engineering program, John also completed a marketing program at Northeastern University and worked with automotive component manufacturers. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin
Top of page image courtesy of Tesla. Tesla service center images by John Goreham.