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Tesla Model 3 Not Faring Well in Media Spotlight

Consumer Reports, Edmunds point out problems with new sedan.

by on May.21, 2018

Tesla's Model 3 isn't getting the rave reviews from some media outlets the company would like.

Tesla’s Model 3 is slowly working its way on to the driveways of the tens of thousands of folks who ordered one — including Consumer Reports and Edmunds, and the results are not what the EV maker had hoped.

Consumer Reports said it “found plenty to like about the luxury compact sedan (which starts at $35,000 but goes all the way up to $78,000), including record-setting range as well as exhilarating acceleration and handling that could make it a healthy competitor to performance-oriented cars such as BMW’s 3 Series and the Audi A4.”

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However, it quickly pointed a few flaws in the new model, primarily long stopping distances in the magazine’s emergency braking test and difficult-to-use controls, that prevented it from earning a recommendation.

The Tesla’s stopping distance of 152 feet from 60-to-0 mph was “far worse than any contemporary car we’ve tested.” In fact, it was about 7 feet longer than of the Ford F-150. Tesla offered up its own results saying that using the same tires that Consumer Reports model was equipped with that it performed the same test in an average of 133 feet.

(Tesla’s California plant shutting down for six days later this month. Click Here for the story.)

Tesla CEO Musk claims the performance Model 3 will not only be faster, but handle better than the BMW M3.

“The automaker noted that stopping-distance results are affected by variables such as road surface, weather conditions, tire temperature, brake conditioning, outside temperature and past driving behavior that may have affected the brake system,” CR reported.

“Before each test, we make sure the brake pads and tires have been properly conditioned,” says Jake Fisher, director of auto testing at CR. “We’ve conducted it on more than 500 vehicles, and we are always looking for consistent, repeatable results.”

The magazine did note that it was able to achieve a result similar to Tesla’s — 130 feet — on its first attempt, but couldn’t get the vehicle to repeat the result again.

Edmunds.com added the sedan to its long-term test fleet and have been dealing with several problem since they received the vehicle. In fact, it has had more issues with the Model 3 than either the Model S or the Model X when they were in the long-term fleet.

“Sixteen weeks into ownership, we’ve had so many issues with our Model 3 that we started a shared Google Doc to catalog various warning messages, necessary screen resets and general failures,” they wrote.

Model 3 production has picked up but remains well behind the company's targets.

(Click Here for more about Musk looking beyond Model 3 problems, but creating some headache in the process.)

Edmunds had problems with the touchscreen and the audio system that were unusual, as well as a potentially dangerous problem with the vehicle’s Autopilot. Give Tesla credit, they did issue a software update that resolved the problem, but it took more time and effort than one might expect.

Some of the issues included:

  • Did not recognize keycard in or on the console and hence would not go into gear.
  • Backup camera screen did not appear when reversing.
  • Navigation screen zooming, scrolling, pinching and pixelating all at once.
  • Audio system turning on by itself at full volume, including once when the vehicle was shut off.
  • Icons on the map screen flickering.
  • The passenger vanity mirror fell off completely. Installed and held on only by double-sided tape. Reinstalled by pressing really hard on the mirror.
  • The screen went completely dark on startup, no music or operation. Restarted the car. The screen worked; the backup camera did not.

Edmunds staffers found “work arounds” for most of the issues while Tesla dealt with the remainder of them with software updates. Still, in an inauspicious beginning for the Model 3.

(For more on Tesla’s first-quarter earnings, Click Here.)

“Just to recap, this has all happened in the past four weeks, less than four full months into our yearlong test,” according to the Edmunds report. “We’ve already scheduled a third service visit for next month, and our collective patience with this car is wearing thin.”

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