The Tesla Model S received perfect marks from Consumer Reports earlier this year (it in fact received 103%, forcing them to revise their methodology), but apparently the EV's reliability isn't quite on par with its performance during road tests. Now that the early production run have had time to age a little and rake up some miles, various issues are starting to surface. CR does a yearly reliability survey, and for the Model S they had 1,400 Tesla owners with cars bought over the past 3 years fill out the forms.
Based on this data from real-world use, which includes reports of all kinds of problems with the center console touchscreen, door handles, sunroofs, and even the electric motor itself, CR is predicting a "worse-than-average overall problem rate" with it, and because of this, it has to remove its sought-after "recommended" seal of approval from the car despite the fact that it did so well in other testing.
Here's a video that they produced to explain their findings:
Note that these problems are all still covered by Tesla's warranty, so they are being fixed at no cost to Tesla owners, and Consumer Reports that those who filled the survey were quite satisfied with Tesla's customer service. But it's no doubt still annoying and worrying, especially when you've paid a lot for the vehicle.
On the other hand, Tesla has done something truly impressive by going from nothing to a car that gets perfect mark reviews and is recognized as a true innovator in just a few years. It's impossible to get everything right, and hopefully the company is working hard on correcting these problems and EVs that will be coming off the assembly line in the near future will be more reliable.
In a statement to Consumer Reports, a Tesla spokesperson said: "Close communication with our customers enables Tesla to receive input, proactively address issues, and quickly fix problems. Model S over-the-air software updates allow Tesla to diagnose and fix most bugs without the need to come in for service. In instances when hardware needs to be fixed, we keep the customer's convenience and satisfaction top of mind."
It's especially important to get this right with the upcoming Model 3, because the mass-market introduction of the Tesla brand could be a make-or-break moment for the company.
Despite all this, Tesla owners are still 97% satisfied with their purchase and would buy a Tesla again, according to CR, so let's not let these small problems overshadow all the positive aspects of the Model S.
The stock market was certainly surprised by Consumer Reports:
Via Consumer Reports