Can The Tesla-Consumer Reports Love Affair Be Saved?

1 year ago by Tesla Mondo 28

Consumer Reports Tests Tesla Model S

Consumer Reports Tests Tesla Model S

Free CR information, caught on camera at a local CVS. Why pay?

Free CR information, caught on camera at a local CVS. Why pay?

TESLA AND CR: CAN THIS MARRIAGE BE SAVED?

Tesla loves Consumer Reports. Consumer Reports loves Model S. They’ve both said so. Yet they’re perpetually estranged. After several years of Model S production — during which the car has morphed from merely powerful to Ludicrous and from merely smart to virtually alive, and during which Tesla has devoured market share from century-old brands and doubled its sales volume every year — CR is still telling everyone to avoid the car.

Go to your local CVS and look at the latest car issue. Tesla’s charts have a couple rows of black dots, mostly in “noises and leaks.” And Model S is among the “Worst of the Worst” used cars.

Irreconcilable differences, it seems. It’s the stuff of divorce — and a film in 1984, when the USA was still literate enough to abide big words.

Tesla isn’t the only brand estranged from CR. Even Acura is in the doghouse. But Acura isn’t trying to force a paradigm shift in motoring. Tesla is trying to do exactly that. It’s also trying to sell a low-maintenance story. Electric vehicles don’t need much attention, supposedly, right? Right.

Bottom line: Consumers are ignoring Consumer Reports. Tesla has generated such loyalty that CR’s little black dots may as well be Junior Mints. Why?

  1. It’s a gadget, not a car. Gadgets have bugs, but Silicon Valley does over-the-air voodoo that kills bugs dead. That the assumption, anyway.
  2. Safety ratings count just as much as reliability ratings.
  3. James Bond Q factor.
  4. Performance.
  5. Brand equity.
  6. Dealer delete button.

And so on. Tesla can survive this divorce. It has certainly won custody of the children. But what about CR? Well, it’s already frayed from its ongoing cold war with the internet. You’re pondering a purchase of, say, a hedge trimmer. Why pay for a CR subscription only to find it hasn’t reviewed hedge trimmers for five years? You can get crowd-sourced reviews instantly, for free, even on just-released or esoteric stuff that CR hasn’t touched.

Are peer reviews scientifically precise? No. Polluted by impostors? Maybe. Polluted enough to warrant getting out your credit card and going to CR’s website to click on a half-hour’s worth of subscription agita in the hopes of getting a cleaner opinion? Probably not.

And if you really want to know what CR thinks about hedge trimmers, even if its review is old, you can probably find out with just a few more clicks. Or drive to the library and look for the issue. But hurry, before libraries vanish.

Naturally, Tesla and TeslaMondo would love to see CR bless the Model S, and eventually the X and III. But if it never happens, Tesla will survive, even thrive. The brand has a very bright future. Consumer Reports, however, is aging along with its subscribers. Ask a room full of 30-year-olds this question: “Which brand will factor more heavily in your future, Tesla or Consumer Reports?”

*Editor’s Note: This and other Tesla-related posts appear on TeslaMondo. Check it out here.

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28 responses to "Can The Tesla-Consumer Reports Love Affair Be Saved?"

  1. William says:

    Nissan Leaf 2013, now (April 2016) downgraded to “worst of the worst”. CR has interesting metrics in their evaluations. Tesla has little to worry about with their customer service.

    1. evcarnuts says:

      Tesla can’t fix Leaks over the air …LOL … They have too much control over the car once it is sold they still have Propriety…& the car is not theirs anymore..WWWWWAAAASSSSSUUUUPPPP Wit Dat????

      1. floydboy says:

        You latter portion of your moniker is most appropriate.?

    2. Jim Whitehead says:

      A Consumer Reports plug is great when you are a new company. The 375,000+ reservations for the Model 3, proves that Consumer Reports has ZERO relevance to buyers now.

      Consumer Reports lost all credibility in my view when they gave Tesla a 103 out of 100 on the scale, panicked and “cheated” by changing the grading math to help Detroit, instead of just living with it, and explaining that the “bonus points” Tesla got are like what genius math kids get when their scores go above 100 by answering bonus questions on tests.

      When CR tampered with their math, they reminded me of the Soviet Union who tampered with history and doctored photos, lying to please the other auto giants. I knew I could never again trust this company!

  2. James says:

    Great to see the Teslamondo content here.

    I’ve found CR to be a viable tool in my search for new products, but sometimes I go more by their brand evaluations than individual products. I know it’s not as accurate of a measure – but if brand A made a great lawnmower 2 years ago, they probably still make a top-tier lawnmower…Not always…But it’s one measure.

    I also go to online reviews – but that’s a stickier and stickier wicket, as the Brits say. Now I check the reviewer if possible to see their track record. It’s uber time consuming…And even then we sometimes take products back.

    I just read rave reviews for a lithium ion chainsaw from a well-known established power equipment company. Most reviews were good. I should’ve watched the YouTube reviews though because they slanted on the negative. Lithium ion yard tools are coming up in power, price and competitiveness to the old, 2-cycle polluters many of us use. That said, my opinion is they’re the Nissan LEAF of outdoor yard tools…Limited, and in most cases, very limited compared to a gas car’s versatility as of today. In other words, neat to have and useful in some circumstances, but have the gas tools at the ready for most of the heavy stuff.

    Tesla can definately bring their quality and reliability shine back. They just didn’t foresee HOW MUCH Tesla owners beat the crud out of their cars. It’s a two-edged sword to sell your product on 0-60mph and instant torque, and then expect your customers to treat the product like a normal car. The good side is Tesla can beef up certain components to tank-like strength to counter the beatings, which makes the cars bulletproof for ordinary consumers who don’t floor it ever five seconds to show off to Uncle Harry and his neighbor friends – then make a video of their reactions and post it online.

    1. TomArt says:

      To my knowledge, much of the existing problems with Tesla are the gadgets failing, like most luxury vehicles not manufactured by Japanese companies.

      I think, but not entirely certain, that they did fix the drivetrain milling-sound issue…

  3. Tom K says:

    I would’ve thought the 2011 LEAF was worse….

  4. Tom Huffman says:

    Yes, Tesla has high consumer satisfaction and excellent customer service, but the reliability problems are a cancer on the company that they need to fix now.

    If these problems continue with the Model 3, warranty costs could bankrupt the company.

    1. floydboy says:

      Tesla, by all indications, seem to be extremely conscious of warranty issues in their cars. Constantly keeping tabs of what issues that pop up, then implementing fixes.
      Even extending that ‘constant improvement’ mantra to the manufacturing side of the house.

      I believe this to be the best philosophy in the long run with regard to increasing actual, as well as perceived, reliability.

    2. TomArt says:

      If reliability hasn’t tanked the European luxury makers, then Tesla is fine.

  5. floydboy says:

    Internet denizens, whom in the past, would routinely denigrate Consumer Reports as lacking sufficient know-how of automobiledom to pass judgment on gas cars, now invariably turn to CR’s criticisms of Tesla as a solid source of information to support their dislike of Tesla, or electric cars in general.

    1. sven says:

      Is it kind of like how the internet denizens invariably turned to CR’s unbridled praise of Tesla after the Model S “broke CR’s ratings system” as a solid source of information to support their love of Tesla?

      1. floydboy says:

        Yes, but to my knowledge, the electric car aficionados weren’t hating on CR prior to the praise, like the ICE car people were prior to the criticisms.

        1. sven says:

          Yeah, but the electric car aficionados were sure hating on CR after the criticisms.

  6. Breezy says:

    I think Consumer Reports will be fine. It’s not like people haven’t “ignored” them for decades. There are many cars that score poorly in Consumer Reports ratings but are appreciated by owners and sell in large numbers.

    When it comes to reliability, they have a large database and they make good predictions. Do with that what you will.

    1. TomArt says:

      Agreed, for the most part. I have a subscription to CR simply because they are not set up to have any conflict of interest when reviewing a product.

      You just don’t know how many of these voluntary user reviews online are legitimate, and it’s often difficult to be able to tell the difference.

      1. Rob Stark says:

        CR surveys are a self selected echo chamber.

        Not random and not scientific.

  7. scott franco (No M3 FAUX GRILL!) says:

    Isn’t this were someone comes out and accuses CR of being on oil company payroll????

    1. floydboy says:

      As a long time CR subscriber, I take great resemblance to that remark! ?

  8. HVACman says:

    So, with Leaf and Tesla tanking with CR, where does the Volt stand in CR’s reliability reviews? A lowly GM product? A vehicle that is arguably the most complex car in the world, with the new tech of electric, plus “saddled” with the high-maintenance ICE?

    1. kdawg says:

      Anything from GM starts with a negative point handicap from CR. But if you change the badge, somehow it magically makes the car better.

  9. Michael S. says:

    Model S, to this day, has the highest road test score of any car tested by Consumer Reports.

    Model S also has one of the poorest reliability scores among cars according to CR reader surveys.

    Model S also has the highest owner satisfaction ratings among cars according to CR reader surveys.

    I don’t think there was necessarily a love affair that ended; rather, CR reports on a number of aspects about a car, and Model S does excellently in some categories and poorly in others.

    In short, Model S is an excellent vehicle that’s comparatively unreliable that owners still love.

    1. Tech01x says:

      That’s not true that the Model S had one of the poorest reliability scores among cars in CR surveys.

      The Model S came in with a -43 score. There were plenty of cars with much worse scores, including:

      Dodge Charger: -52
      Mercedes Benz CLA: -55
      Infiniti Q50: -64
      Mercedes Benz C-class: -82
      Acura TLX: -92
      Chrysler 300: -99
      Chevy Corvette: -178

      It was about the same as:
      Porsche Cayman: -41
      BMW i3: -37

      The new car prediction score for reliability for the Model S is rated at Fair. That’s the same as the BMW 5 series.

      1. Koenigsegg says:

        All of that is meaningless

        -43

        -63

        what does that even mean?

        The chevy corvette is minus 76! lol makes no sense

        1. Martin Winlow says:

          Makes perfect sense to me!

  10. Jacked Beanstalk says:

    CR are irrelevant. Their ratings affect only a tiny fraction of consumers.

    The more important question is how Tesla’s reliability problems will affect their reputation and ultimately their sales, and if Tesla’s poor reliability will taint the image of EVs in general.

  11. lithium78 says:

    Consumer Reports is the magazine that rates all Fords as “poor” because they don’t know how to use the entertainment system. All they would have to do is literally just read the instruction manual but that’s too much work for them so their laziness is called “defects” in Ford’s product. I no longer pay attention to anything CR has to say.

  12. Peter B says:

    I used to rely heavily on CR for new car purchases, but they are so slow to adapt to the EV/PHEV era it is laughable. This is combined with giving glowing reviews to new models of Mercedes, BMW, VW, Volvo, etc, then the same cars end up on their “Used Cars To Avoid” list 3 years later.