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Tesla CEO Defends Model S After Consumer Reports Downgrade


William Maley

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One thing you cannot call Elon Musk is a shrinking violet. The CEO of Tesla has taken to Twitter once again to defend the company. This time it deals with the results of Consumer Reports' annual reliability survey where the Model S, a vehicle which had earned the coveted Recommended rating, lost it this year due to a number of problems reported by owners. CR says the Model S likely to face a "worse-than-average" overall problem rate.

 

Musk said in his tweets that problems outlined in CR's survey were because of early production models and that new models have these issues ironed out. Musk goes on to say "Most important, CR says 97% of owners expect their next car to be a Tesla (the acid test)."

 

Source: Elon Musk Twitter, (2)


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Good for him to defend his product. Wish others would take CR to task for a heavy hand on their review of american products.

Consumer Reports reliability survey is just that : reporting problems from a survey. Why blame the messenger ?

Musk defends his product but he doesn't deny the problems reported. He even acknowledge them but say they have been corrected.

I'm actually glad consumers have tool to take manufacturers to task instead of the other way around.

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Didn't Consumer Reports say the Model S scored 103 points on a 100 point scale, and thus was a beyond perfect car?  Now they don't like it?  CR is full of crap and knows nothing about cars.  If you choose a car based on reliability ratings from a scale designed to judge washing machines then you might as well admit you have no goals or ambition in life and just pack it up and die.

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Didn't Consumer Reports say the Model S scored 103 points on a 100 point scale, and thus was a beyond perfect car?  Now they don't like it?  CR is full of crap and knows nothing about cars.  If you choose a car based on reliability ratings from a scale designed to judge washing machines then you might as well admit you have no goals or ambition in life and just pack it up and die.

 

You're talking about a vehicle review like we might do here that "broke" their scale.  The car reliability survey is different and is why they are rescinding their recommendation. 

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Hopefully the geek squad over at CR has learned a lesson from this major miscalculation.

They didn't when the same thing happened with Toyota, I doubt they will now.

 

 

CR testing/ratings and the reliability survey are two very different things.

 

CR testing/ratings have Tesla S, Chevrolet Impala, Chevrolet Sonic, Lincoln MKZ, Buick Regal, Dodge Durango and Buick Enclave on top of their categories while CTS, Verano, LaCrosse are rated among the best. What's so geek about that ? Like for any testing, one has to give or take according to his own priorities.

 

The reliability survey is flawed like any survey (only from people willing to answer, thus probably more with things to report than not, no cue about condition of ownership - hence Buick appearing more reliable than Chevrolet counterparts - and tolerance to "glitches" like with infotainment systems). But some valuable indications. Toyota never dropped that much in those or any survey since, as for the GM ignition switch drama, a recall is still just one trip to the mechanic for the owner.

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CR's survey is unreliable because it counts on the customer making a judgement as to the severity of a defect. Customers are, in general, really really dumb.

Then there is the issue of CR giving two different ratings to two mechanically identical vehicles with different badges. It is virtually impossible for there to be a statistically significant difference between a Toyota Corolla and Chevy Prism. They were built on the same lines, with the same parts, by the same workers. Yet CR rated them differently.

There are other issues as well....

CR has a long history of being unreliable on car ratings. This is not a defense of Tesla but an indictment of CR.

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Tesla probably has a very high (possibly approaching 100%) [recall?TSB?update?] service completion rate, as the company does over the air updates.

 

So you end up getting real mechanical failures that stand out...

 

For the price they charge for the vehicles, doing things such as replacing entire motors and going the extra mile is something that should be expected. 

 

But them doing this kind of extensive under warranty repair service for customers without a traditional dealer network is quite frankly, impressive. They have vehicles everywhere, now. I see so many of them here in Toronto. And a lot of the ones I spot are Dual Motor.

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A number of the early motor replacements likely weren't even needed, Tesla just wanted the parts back to study potential failures to avoid them in future. An engine replacement in a petrol car is a big deal. Swapping the motor out of a Tesla is simple, relative to a petrol car.

However, on a CR survey, it sounds pretty bad.

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If I am the owner of a vehicle and the basic motive force of that vehicle fails, whether it be an electric motor or a gasoline engine, it is a big deal to me, the person who bought said vehicle.  I don't care if it takes 10 minutes or a day to swap out the heart of it.

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If I am the owner of a vehicle and the basic motive force of that vehicle fails, whether it be an electric motor or a gasoline engine, it is a big deal to me, the person who bought said vehicle.  I don't care if it takes 10 minutes or a day to swap out the heart of it.

And still read it again. Tesla took some of those motors to study them. Not because they needed full motor swaps. It skews the results of the CR survey, but the owner got a new drive unit that they might not have actually needed so Tesla can make further adjustments to their design.

Tesla does rolling upgrades to their cars without waiting till the next model year, so as they find fixes to make, they go into production quickly.

It's a different and more nimble business model than the traditional car companies.

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All customers are not equal though in a Tesla lover's world.  Tesla owners are tech savvy.  They are very smrt individuals who are on the cutting edge of consciousness.  Why would they report something that was irrelevant to them?  That was not fully explained to them by their God, Elon Musk?  These failures were noted, and not just by CR's skewed method.  They are facts.

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Because a lot of times, it is just the service advisor saying "We're just going to swap out the drive unit, it will be back to you on Thursday."

Simple, friendly, direct, exceptional customer service.

And while you might find it a big deal, I don't find swapping out a drive unit in a Tesla under warranty to be a big deal. It's a few wire harness clips and a dozen or so bolts.

But I work in technology... I understand that electronics are designed to be easily swappable. As long as the parts are replaced with equal or greater performance, it is no different than swapping out a dead hard drive on a $2,000 laptop.

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OK yeah, call me old skool, but if Tesla cannot get the main drive motor right, what else will go wrong?  This is not a minor detail, Good Lord, it is everything.

 

You're old skool.  You're thinking in terms of catastrophic engine failure, generally one of the only reasons a big legacy manufacturer would replace an engine under warranty.  They'll only do engine swap outs if the entire engine is toast.

 

That's not what is happening with these Teslas. Some of them just have the petrol equivalent of a check engine light on, but are still otherwise functioning.    

 

GM, for a number of years now, has been dealing with timing chain issues on the early versions of the 3.6 and 3.6 DI.  This covers the engine in the current Lambdas too.  The timing chains will stretch, cause very poor running conditions, and generally F-up the VVT.   Initially GM's response was to recall the unaffected cars and reprogram the Oil Life Monitor to go off at 5k - 8k instead of 10k -12k, but all that does is push the inevitable to outside the warranty time limit. GM did this because they were doing frequent timing chain replacements on vehicles with under 30k miles.  Imagine having to get your timing chain replaced on your Colorado next year.... how upset would you be?  To use your own language; "If GM can't get a timing chain right, technology that has been around for 100+ years, Good lord! What else will go wrong?!"

 

What Tesla is doing is swapping out the entire engine instead of replacing the timing chain because it is faster to just swap out the whole unit.  Do you get the distinction yet?

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You don't understand my point.  Enjoy your Sunday though!

 

He does understand your point. You're looking from a systems perspective and saying that just one piece can be integral to the overall functioning of the vehicle.

 

But it can be boiled down to individual components.

 

People can interpret a great warranty policy as actually a poor product design. Or they think a very strict warranty policy with few documented fixes as a sign of quality. That's just a misinformed way of thinking without knowing the facts.

 

Tesla designed their car to be very modular. So it's kind of like a LEGO plug-and play kind of deal. 

 

And if GM can't get ignition switches right, such a catastrophic design flaw that disables all safety systems, what else could go wrong? If Toyota can't get floor mats and accelerator pedals and electronic throttle control units right, what else could go wrong? If VW cheats with a specific ECU control software to skirt the system, where else are they cheating? If Ford EcoBoost is a hit and a miss in fuel economy, how much are consumers overspending on fuel compared to the ratings? There's so many questionable actions by other automakers, not the least of which are LESS severe than what Tesla is doing.

 

It's easy to take that kind of approach to undermine an entire company. Put it this way. It's not hurting the buyer one bit to have their entire motor replaced no questions asked.

 

But automakers are known to cut corners. Tesla isn't. They are bearing a large cost of the few shortcomings their vehicles have. They can do this, and others can't. 

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snip

You're arguing with an individual whose sole hangup is the powertrain, preferring a propulsion method littered with complexities and a ~20% average efficiency for reasons that are purely emotional and visceral.

FWIW, 97% of Tesla owners would buy one again, which is also mentioned in the same CR survey. There are companies that'd do terrible things (like cheating emissions tests) to get that kind of love.

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You don't understand my point.  Enjoy your Sunday though!

 

You're saying that swapping out the drive unit is a big deal.  I'm saying it's not and that it is likely not even necessary in many cases, but Tesla is doing it anyway to maintain top consumer satisfaction..... a warranty policy that other companies should consider emulating.  

 

But again, nearly everyone here reading this knows you have an agenda against electric vehicles and Tesla in particular. 

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"NEARLY" everyone?  I'll have to try harder then.  :smilewide:

 

As far as Tesla bearing costs, where are they getting their money from?  Please explain.  Thank you!

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