Consumer Reports has withdrawn its recommendation for the Tesla Model S sedan, citing reliability issues, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Tesla shares were down 11% in trading on the news, to $US204.
“Consumer Reports surveyed 1,400 Model S owners ‘who chronicled an array of detailed and complicated maladies’ with the drivetrain, power equipment, charging equipment and giant iPad-like center console,” the LA Times‘ Jerry Hirsch wrote.
“They also complained about body and sunroof squeaks, rattles and leaks,” he added.
Consumer Reports specifically cited problems with electric drivetrains and battery charging in older Model S vehicles, the LA Times reported. In new cars, issues involved sunroofs and recessed door handles that fail to properly extend, a problem that Consumer Reports had previously highlighted.
In response to a request for comment, a Tesla spokesperson said:
Consumer Reports also found that customers rate Tesla service and loyalty as the best in the world. Close communication with our customers enables Tesla to receive input, proactively address issues, and quickly fix problems. 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 strive to make it painless.
According to Mark Rechtin, Auto Content Team Leader at Consumer Reports, “Tesla is keeping its customers happy with white glove treatment.”
He he questioned whether, as Tesla ramps up volume with new vehicles, the carmaker would be able to continue that level of service.
CR pulled its recommendation for Tesla as part of its 2015 Annual Auto Reliability Survey.
Hirsch noted that reliability concerns about Tesla vehicles could indicate difficulties in executing on new cars, including the Model X SUV, launched last month, and the Model 3 mass-market vehicle, scheduled to hit the road in 2017.
Consumer Reports has held Teslas in very high esteem, while at the same time stepping forward to detail problems with the startup electric carmaker’s vehicles. The Model S P85D, for example, did so well in CR evaluations that the publication said it broke the test scale. However, CR also questioned the high-performance 4-door’s claimed 0-60 time of 3.2 seconds.
On balance, the publication was understanding of what Tesla is up against as a new carmaker, writing that:
[W]hen automakers roll out new technology, be it infotainment, transmissions, or engine variations, it often has a deleterious effect on vehicle reliability. Tesla is not only the poster child for a new type of high-performance, high-mileage EV, but it also has been adding complex new variations as assembly-line updates, such as all-wheel drive this year. So it’s not surprising to see problems continue to crop up.
Despite the problems, our data show that Tesla owner satisfaction is still very high: Ninety-seven per cent of owners said they would definitely buy their car again. It appears that Tesla has been responsive to replacing faulty motors, differentials, brakes, and infotainment systems, all with a minimum of fuss to owners. And Tesla’s attention to customer service has been effective. Almost every survey respondent made note of Tesla’s rapid response and repair time, despite the lack of a traditional dealer service network. For its early adopters, Tesla has made a practice of over-delivering on service problems under the factory warranty.
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