More than 90 percent of Tesla Model S and X models that roll off the assembly line require fixes before they are shipped. This figure comes from nine former and current Tesla employees that spoke to Reuters this week citing data from the company's internal tracking system.
At Tesla “so much goes into rework after the car is done ... that’s where their money is being spent,” said a former supervisor.
Industry experts say it is critical for an automaker to get the quality right before initial production as repairs waste time and money. Other automakers such as Toyota only have an average of "fewer than 10 percent of their cars" requiring some sort of fix.
Some of this can be attributed to Tesla's pressure to keep the production line moving, even when there was some sort of issue. This caused certain batches of vehicles to not have various parts such as windshields or bumpers. The understanding according to the workers is they would be fixed later.
Other issues such as doors not closing or missing trim pieces show Tesla is still struggling with getting the basics right.
Defects included “doors not closing, material trim, missing parts, all kinds of stuff. Loose objects, water leaks, you name it,” another former supervisor said. “We’ve been building a Model S since 2012. How do we still have water leaks?”
Tesla calls models with quality issues “kickbacks” and are either fixed on the production line or head to one of Tesla’s outdoor parking lots for repair. According to the workers, one of the lots "has exceeded 2,000 vehicles at times".
“Our goal is to produce perfect cars for every customer. Therefore, we review every vehicle for even the smallest refinement. Most customers would never notice the work that is done post production, but we care about even a fraction of a millimeter body gap difference or a slight paint gloss texture. We then feed these improvements back to production in a pursuit of perfection,” Tesla said in a statement to Reuters.
The company declined to provide any post-assembly defect rates and denied those repair lots exist.