The Tesla Model S came in last in a major survey ranking cars by how reliable they are

TeslaThe Tesla Model S.
  • UK motoring magazine What Car? surveyed more than 18,000 car owners to establish the reliability of 159 models across 31 brands.
  • The Tesla Model S proved the least reliable and was given a score of just 50.9%.
  • Owners identified issues with the cars’ electrical systems and bodywork.
  • “Just over half of the cars were out of action for at least a week and some fixes cost more than £1500,” What Car? said about the Model S.
  • In a statement to Business Insider, Tesla said that the survey was “statistically meaningless,” claiming that less than 0.3% of UK Tesla owners were represented.
  • The company also highlighted its repairs process and high customer satisfaction scores.

More than 18,000 car owners in the UK identified the Tesla Model S as the least reliable car out of 31 brands and 159 model.

Motoring magazine What Car? gave the Tesla Model S a reliability rating of just 50.9%, with owners identifying issues with the car’s electrical systems and bodywork.

The car’s “electric powertrain is proving reliable,” What Car? said, but owners reported bent seat frames, broken door handles, and failures with parking sensors.

What Car? factored in how much cars cost to repair and how long they were off the road for. When it came to the Tesla Model S, “Just over half of the cars were out of action for at least a week and some fixes cost more than £1500,” What Car? reported.

41% of the Tesla Model S cars owned by those who responded to the survey had faults. Of those, 30% had issues with bodywork, 19% had issues with non-engine electrics, and 7% had issues with the interior trim.

Another 4% of these owners identified issues with battery, brakes, steering, and the wheels and tires.

Tesla’s Model S, first released in 2012, was the second car that Tesla ever produced and made waves in the industry, becoming the first car without a combustion engine to win Motor Trend’s Car of the Year award.

While the Model S was placed in What Car?’s electric and hybrid cars category, it received the lowest score out of any car in any category.

It was 16.4 percentage points behind the second least reliable car, the Land Rover Range Rover.

In a statement to Business Insider, Tesla said that the low number of respondents with Tesla cars invalidated the survey results: “Only 28 Model S owners responded out of a total of 18,000 car owners surveyed by What Car?. That’s less than 0.3% of UK Tesla owners, so this survey is statistically meaningless.”

The company also said that internal figures show customer satisfaction scores at 90%, and that the company topped the annual Company Reports customer satisfaction survey every year since 2013.

“We are committed to making the world’s best cars, and in order to ensure the highest quality, we review every vehicle for even the smallest refinement before it leaves the factory,” Tesla said.

Tesla also highlighted its repairs policy:

“To the extent repairs are needed, the majority of work carried out on cars up to 4 years old is done under warranty and free of charge to the customer while they are supplied with a courtesy car. Unlike other manufacturers, Tesla repairs can also be carried out in a customer’s driveway or office by mobile service, or even via over-the-air updates, to minimise any disruption.”

What Car? asked owners about car trouble they had faced in the past 12 months, and ranked cars that were up to four years old.

The overall most reliable car was the Toyota Taris, which was given a reliability score of 100%.

The most reliable electric car, the category that the Tesla Model S is included, was the Nissan Leaf, which was given a score of 99.7%.

Overall, What Car? found “that it is Japanese models that continue to dominate the top of the reliability rankings, both for car model and brand rankings,” according to a statement from Editor Steve Huntingford.

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