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Building a New Car, Even a Tesla, is Harder Than Ever

Tesla Model S, Still Teething?
Tesla Model S, Still Teething?

Today’s drivers expect damn-near-perfection when getting into their second-biggest investment, an automobile, and Tesla Motors may have it more difficult than most other automakers.

Of course, we’re talking about reliability, and no other car is more reliable than the Japanese. Is there anything that Tesla can learn from the big Japanese automakers, such as Honda and Toyota, who consistently rank high on vehicle reliability, both new and used? Given that Tesla Motors is the newest automaker on the market, having started basically from scratch with ideas for a great new automobile, the company has been wildly successful, in spite of a few teething pains. Long-term testing by Consumer Reports (CR) and Edmunds may, however, indicate that the innovative automaker’s teething pains may not be over, yet.

According to CR, Tesla Model S is one of the best cars that you can buy, which is saying a lot for a brand new automaker, the first in the last half-century, the only automobile to ever rank a 99:100 score from the company. Over time, however, maybe CR will change that rating, with some reliability issues they’ve come across. CR, for example, by the time their Tesla Model S rolled around to 12,000 miles, had a couple problems with the pop-out doors handles (no pop) and trunk lid (again, no pop), which were addressed with a couple of OTA (over-the-air) software updates, and even full failure of the central touchscreen console.

Edmunds’ problem with the Tesla Model S were more serious, requiring drive unit replacement, four times as a matter of fact, and battery pack replacement two times. I have to wonder what Edmunds’ test drivers are doing to the car, or if there is genuinely something wrong with their test vehicle. There are many different drivers and terrain and certain combinations of which are certainly no good for even conventional vehicles.

True, CR and Edmunds are just two companies, but their testing and reviews are generally without bias, unlike certain New York Times’ and Top Gear reviews of the car. Still, tens of thousands of Tesla Model S owners can’t be too far off, so I might be willing to take Edmunds’ and CR’s updated reviews with a grain of salt when they come out. If anything, these teething problems show just how hard it is to make an automobile these days!

Photo credit: Captain Kimo

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