Tesla Issues Email Claiming Model S Reliability Has Improved Significantly In Past 12 Months

2 years ago by Mark Kane 25

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

Consumer Report’s Tesla Model S recommendation was dropped due to reliability issues. That opened questions on the topic to the broader public.

Perhaps in response, Tesla recently sent emails as part of its November newsletter (Tesla Updates – November 2015) touching on the subject. A portion of the email suggests that reliability has improved by a lot.

According to Tesla, in the past 12 months reliability issues have decreased by half, while the satisfaction rating stays ultra-high at 97%.

Tesla Reliability and Service

Close communication between customers, service, and engineering enables us to receive feedback, proactively address concerns and quickly fix issues. Customer feedback in the last three years has helped us increase the reliability of our charging equipment and infotainment system, reduce braking noise and improve the fit and finish of the Model S interior.

In the last 12 months alone we’ve decreased reliability issues by half, and improvements have been made at no cost to our owners. If hardware does need to be fixed, we strive to make it painless through our four-year/50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty (and eight-year/unlimited mileage battery and drivetrain warranty). Even if potential issues have a low likelihood of causing future problems, we fix them. It’s why 97% of Tesla owners expect their next car to be a Tesla.

To our owners we say: Thank you. Uncovering and resolving quality and reliability issues on an ongoing basis will allow us to continue to innovate and drive to accomplish our mission of a renewable transportation future.

Our customer stories offer the most compelling reviews of what life with a Tesla is really like.

If the Tesla Model S reliability improved so much, the high rate of problems might only be linked to the early Model S, but we are still not fully convinced that’s the case.

The early Model S, with a higher number of reliability issues, shouldn’t get Consumer Reports’ recommendation (but there wasn’t sufficient data for all-new cars, we believe), while the new, more reliable cars, perhaps should receive the recommendation if the reliability is actually now at a higher level, as Tesla states.

In the end, we likely will have to wait until next year (and more miles driven) to learn the verdict on how reliable today’s Model S sedans truly are; still, it is good to hear some confirmation that Tesla is dedicated to continually improving its product.

Original portion of email (quoted above) sent via Tesla:

Tesla Reliability Note - November 2015

Tesla Reliability Note – November 2015

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25 responses to "Tesla Issues Email Claiming Model S Reliability Has Improved Significantly In Past 12 Months"

  1. Robb Stark says:

    Doesn’t Consumer Reports use a rolling three year average to project reliability.

    They recommend 2016 cars without knowing 2016 model year reliability for a fact.

    CR also acknowledged they did not get sufficient data for 2012 MY Teslas.

    Before they had sufficient data Tesla got an average reliability rating as a default.

    1. GasKilla says:

      They use historical data so if a company rapidly changes it would take a year or more for consumer reports to catch up. Rapid change doesn’t happen often in the automotive industry, Tesla may be the exception.

    2. Ambulator says:

      “Before they had sufficient data Tesla got an average reliability rating as a default.”

      No, Tesla got a “not enough data”. Consumer Reports will not recommend a new model until they get some data in.

      1. GRA says:

        Indeed. They have a standard formulaton for new models and new generations of models, which goes something like We can’t recommend it as it’s a new model, and we have insufficient data”new model If it’s a new generation of a well-known model, it follows that says something like “previous generations of the ‘model’ have been average in reliability”, or else “much worse than/worse than/better than/much better than average in reliability”, as applicable. CR doesn’t recommend any car until they have a sufficient number of owner reports for that model year, and it achieves ‘average’ or better reliability. I forget what the minimum number of reports they require is, but it’s somewhere in three figures IIRC. The current (Dec.) issue rates automakers by brand (Lexus was #1, followed by Toyota, Audi, Mazda, Subaru, Kia, Buick, Honda, Hyundai, and Mini to round out the top ten; FCA languished at the bottom again, with Fiat at the absolute worst in 28th spot, Jeep and Ram just above it, and Dodge three spots above Ram), as well as the 20 least reliable 2015 models (Fiat 500L tops that list).

        1. GRA says:

          Urk! Was doing some editing, and hit post by mistake.

  2. ffbj says:

    It’ll all come out in the wash.

  3. WR says:

    There is a need to cut the reliability data by year and quarter of delivery, then plot it as a function of time. If there is an improvement trend, it should become evident through this type of simple analysis. There should be enough Model S cars out there now to make this feasible and informative.

  4. DonC says:

    From looking at trudelta the numbers suggest that there are more problems with the 2015 MY than with the 2013 MY. 61/100 in 2013; 98/100 in 2014; 78/100 in 2015. Certainly nothing suggesting a steady improvement. Overall the Model S sits at the “not good” end of the distribution curve.

    IMO the quality problem has to be in production or design because the quality of the parts seems to be quite high.

    1. Nathanael says:

      That looks…. completely fishy. There are no reports of new problems in 2015 cars (ones which didn’t exist in 2013 cars). There are a bunch of latent problems with 2013 cars which didn’t show up until 2014 or 2015, though….

  5. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    “In the last 12 months alone we’ve decreased reliability issues by half…”

    Well, I hope that’s true. We’ll find out next year, when Consumer Reports issues its next reliability report on the Model S.

    In the meantime, it might be useful to discuss whether or not Tesla Motors is actually getting “dinged” by CR’s survey process, because they’re so pro-active in not only dealing with reported problems, but spotting and dealing with even potential problems when a Model S is brought in for servicing.

    For example, when Edmunds.com’s Model S was taken in for its regular quarterly service check, I think more than once a Telsa tech heard a funny noise in the drivetrain, so they swapped it out to make sure no real problem developed, even though the Edmunds team hadn’t noticed anything.

    Is that sort of thing being reported on the CR survey as something that needed fixing, and so contributing to the low reliability rating? If so, then Tesla Motors is being unfairly judged because they’re going out of their way to provide better service!

    It would be quite unfortunate if Tesla decides to cut back on being proactive, and only dealt with actual problems reported to them by customers, because of the negative publicity associated with the downgrade from CR.

    It would be even more unfortunate if Tesla service centers start doing what stealership service departments all too typically do: Simply say “Oh, that’s normal, don’t worry about it” when a customer makes a complaint about how their car is working. I wonder how that shows up on a CR survey, hmmm?

    1. Three Electrics says:

      Elon,

      One of the heads of the Pushmi-Pullyu is SpaceX, and the other is Tesla; that we know. But we don’t know how you can expect such a ridiculous theory to be swallowed by anyone. On one hand, we have hard data from at least two surveys of MS owners, asking them to report the incidence of problems.

      On the other, we have Iraqi Information Minister style FUD, asking us to believe that busy owners are willing to give up their cars for extended periods of time to fix imaginary issues.

      Furthermore, we are asked to believe that traditional dealerships, which derive a substantial portion of their profits from service, don’t attempt to push needless repairs on everyone who walks through their door, especially when the manufacturer is paying for it under warranty. If there is an honest dealership service department out there, I have yet to come across it.

      1. Anon says:

        UR FNY.

      2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Three Electrics:

        I feel sorry for you, being so jealous of Elon Musk that you’d try to label others with his name. I’m sure the real Elon Musk has better things to do than to point out the numerous absurd fallacies in posts from Tesla-bashing Internet trolls like you.

        1. Three Electrics says:

          It sounds like you do have the time; so I would appreciate counterpoints to my argument that your post is little more than air from Tesla’s PR department. If Elon were the author his words would scarcely differ.

      3. Nix says:

        3 – stop being an obvious troll. Or do you think I’m Elan too?

        If you have a legitimate argument, make it.

        I don’t always agree with Pushy, but he makes an honest point whether he is right or wrong.

        Tesla has been known to be very proactive on their service. I don’t know what percent of the service numbers come from that. If you actually have any knowledge, share it.

  6. Chris O says:

    That’s all good but I wonder how long until those improved models start shifting the balance as owners of older models will keep reporting higher than average problems.

    Well..presumably, at some point the problems with older models will be fixed I suppose.

    This is not an easy one to come back from though. I still have a hard time taking Mercedes seriously as a quality product despite the fact that quality reportedly isn’t as abysmal any more as it used to be.

    1. Nathanael says:

      See below. In fact, most of the (many) problems with older models have actually been permanently fixed by retrofits.

      There are two rather serious problems (described as the “milling sound” and the “clunk”) where it’s not clear that Tesla has actually tracked down the root cause yet. But based on their track record, when they do track it down, it will be fixed *permanently*.

      Worth getting the extended warranty!

  7. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

    Always read statements literally.

    (1) Reliability

    Reliability can simply mean “is the car driveable”. Or “do things do their fundamental job”.

    At its extreme reliability might not include a leaky panoramic roof, and wouldn’t include the “milling sound” that annoys drivers and leads to so many drive unit replacements. (And note that the drive unit replacement is almost always a swap for a refurbished unit).

    (2) Measuring reliability

    What does it mean to have halved reliability issues? Is it per car produced? Sold? And which issues have been resolved or improved?

    Tesla’s increasing production should lead to an increase in reliability because that lowers the average mileage in the fleet.

    Still, something’s improved.

    1. mr. M says:

      Steady milling sound means something is bad designed, but no reliability issue. Increasing milling sound means something is on the way of breaking appart which is a reliability issue (see renault zoe milling noise threads).

      1. Bill Howland says:

        Oh Mr. M, if someone bought an S with a quiet gearbox and it after a few thousand km starts making noise, that undoubtably means something is wearing.

        Now if their machining is rough, but the design isn’t overloaded, then you’d expect any ‘wearing in’ would get quieter with use, whereas this is the opposite problem.

        When I was in the Toronto Gallery, I was disturbed by the very small gearbox running off of an over 300 hp motor and wondered outloud about the reliability.

        It is no surprise to me that these assemblies (Motor, Inverter, and gearbox) are changed out as a unit 2 or 3 times on the cars reviewed.

  8. Dustin says:

    With all the electronic gadgets it has, there are plenty of non-motive things to break. This gives people the false impression that the cars are sitting dead. There are tons of minor problems being falsely presented as “car dead” by this false wording. Look at the numbers of problems that actually result in the car being immobile, then I’ll care. “Oh, look, there’s a scratch in the paint” is not a valid complaint and is being included here and presented as “Oh my GAWD my $120,000 car exploded!”

    1. Nathanael says:

      Because of the high sticker price of the car, Tesla *has* attracted a lot of super-picky owners who take their cars in for every little thing.

  9. pjkPA says:

    Consumer reports has no creditable statistics backing up their vehicle recommendations. All they do is tally up responses to THIER magazine survey to come up with reliability recommendations. This is totally wrong.

    ie: If a Chevy that has a million cars on the road has 10 problems and a Toyota that has 50,000 cars on the road has 8 problems … CU rates the Toyota better… which is totally wrong.

    Another thing CU does is rates a bad engine the same as a loose thread in a seat…
    Which is also totally wrong.

    All the bad V8 engines in Toyota, Nissan and Honda trucks because they didn’t quite copy the FORD and GM v8s never hurt their reliability as far as CU is concerned.

    This has gone on for many years and no “journalist” have taken them on… which it also totally wrong.

    1. kubel says:

      They make their recommendations based on problems relative to responses of one product to the same of another product. They aren’t just comparing the number of problems on one product to the number of problems on another. It’s all relative to their sample size.

      They don’t take into consideration the number of cars on the road, but they argue that responses typically track the number of sales.

      I agree that Consumer Reports has a flawed method, but it’s not *that* flawed.

  10. Nathanael says:

    As a Tesla Model S owner, I believe this 100%.

    Why? Every single thing which has gone wrong with my car has been replaced with an *improved part* which is supposed to fix the problem *permanently* and which is already in the new cars. They mostly have fixed the problem permanently.

    There have been quite a number of things which went wrong with my car. But they were all of this character.

    That said, Tesla’s biggest problem is lack of service centers. Don’t buy the car if you live more than 160 miles from a service center. Period.