Getting decent ratings from Consumer Reports is an important achievement for any product – particularly high ticket-items such as large home appliances and motor vehicles.
Many consumers consider CR to be the Holy Grail when it comes to its product evaluations. Indeed, weak comparative ratings is why so many American car makers have suffered greatly when attempting to compete with their Asian and some European counterparts.
And then we have Tesla. This American car (and solar panel technology) company is different in that the Tesla product line doesn’t include any traditional gasoline-fueled vehicles. The company has suffered for that in Consumer Reports’ reliability rankings, as its electric car technology isn’t fully mature – and hence subject to some rather gnarly quality control issues.
Actually, the company had been making some pretty steady progress on the product quality front – until the new Model Y mid-size SUV model hit the market earlier this year. Some of the common complaints about that new Tesla model have been eyebrow-raising to say the least – including some very basic and distinctly lo-tech problems like misaligned body panels and mismatched paint colors.
As it turns out, the knocks on the Model Y have sent Tesla’s brand reputation plummeting in the CR reliability ratings. The company now ranks an abysmal 25th out of 26 auto brands. Ouch!
The Model Y has garnered Consumer Reports’ embarrassing designation “much worse than average.” But Tesla’s more established vehicle models aren’t perceived to be that much better, actually. CR rates both the Model S sedan and the Model X SUV as “worse than average,” meaning that only Tesla’s Model 3 is currently holding an “average” rating and the commensurate “recommended” status from CR.
Clearly, this company has substantial work left to do to convince a skeptical public of the quality of its automotive lineup. Considering how quickly electric cars are being adopted now, it looks like the company will need to clean up its act within the next 24 to 36 months, or risk becoming one of those early pioneers that flamed out — just like happened to many of the early entrant motorcar companies a century ago.
What are your own thoughts about the promise – and pitfalls — of Tesla and its products? Please share your perspectives with other readers here.