Consumer Reports says Tesla misunderstands 'positive' Model 3 rating

Cesar Mills
October 21, 2017

The magazine said its survey of 640,000 vehicles showed that all-new vehicles or models with newly updated technology are more likely than older models to have a wonky engine, a jerky transmission, or high-tech features that fail outright.

"This is actually one of the most reliable vehicles in the General Motors fleet", Fisher said of the Bolt.

Tesla does have a valid complaint that Consumer Reports has yet to drive the Model 3 so it's hard to understand how it can predict the new car's reliability. Tesla ranked 21st on the list.

Its scorecard is influential among consumers and industry executives."Tesla seems to misunderstand or is conflating some of what we fundamentally do", the magazine, sometimes called the buyer's bible for vehicle shoppers, said in a statement."Tesla appears unhappy that CR expects the new-to-market Tesla Model 3 to be of average reliability, which is generally a positive projection for any first model year of a auto", the magazine said.Tesla launched production of the Model 3, its newest vehicle, over the summer.Consumer Reports said its rating was based on 2,000 consumer survey response about Tesla models.

Even in 2015, when Consumer Reports downgraded the Model S reliability ranking to "worse than average", CEO Elon Musk still cited Consumer Reports statistics in defending the electric vehicle.

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With many new cars, customers complain about problems with continuously variable transmissions and eight- and nine-speed gear boxes created to boost fuel mileage, the magazine said. "We would've not predicted average for the Model 3 unless we saw above-average data for the Model S. If the Model S was still just average, we would've not made that prediction". Tesla has delayed the unveiling of an electric semi truck and fired workers this month following a slower-than-projected start of production for the Model 3. The electric vehicle maker noted that Consumer Reports has not yet driven a Model 3, and did not know anything substantial about how the sedan was designed and engineered.

Has focusing on Tesla raised Consumer Reports profile?

"More often than not, our data suggests it's prudent for consumers to wait for the technology to mature", Jake Fisher, head of Consumer Reports auto testing, said in a statement ahead of a presentation in Detroit. But over-the-air updates are helping automakers alleviate problems more quickly, he said.

But which automakers build the most reliable vehicles? In testing, Chevrolet's new all-electric Bolt EV proved highly dependable, according to Consumer Reports, a non-profit organization which accepts no advertising.

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