Consumer Reports To Tesla Motors: “We’re Not Complete Idiots”


CR's Tesla Model S P85D

CR’s Tesla Model S P85D

Shortly after Consumer Reports posted on the now famous door handle problem with its Tesla Model S, the electric automaker turned defensive.

According to USA Today:

“Consumer Reports says testers were initially locked out of its 27-day-old top-of-the-line Tesla Model S P85D because the car’s fancy retractable door handles wouldn’t work. They were able to get into the car through the passenger’s side door and squeeze behind the wheel, but the car then wouldn’t shift into drive.”

However, Tesla stated that Consumer Reports could have simply used Tesla’s cellphone app to remote start the car. Jake Fisher, director of auto testing for Consumer Reports, responded by saying they were unaware that the app would allow for driving the car and suggested that most consumers would not know about this feature either.

Consumer Reports then stated that the big issue is that the car wouldn’t go into drive due to the door handle issue.  Tesla states that there’s no connection between the door handle and the car’s ability to go into drive.  Here’s where Tesla made a mistake.  Tesla suggested that perhaps the test driver didn’t depress the brake pedal and that’s likely why the car wouldn’t go into drive.  Consumer Reports’ Jake Fisher responded to this accusations by stating:

“We’re not complete idiots.  We’re not backing away from ‘undriveable.”

End of story…

As for those door handles, Green Car Reports reached out to Consumer Reports to see how big of an issue they are.  Fisher stated:

“Of the 1,278 2012-2014 Tesla Model S cars in our 2014 Survey, 31 were reported to have problems on locks and latches, and 11 were reported to have problems on doors.”

“These are unusually high problem rates. The average problem rate for locks and latches is less than one-half of 1 percent for each of the model years 2012 through 2014.”

So, yes, the doors, lock and latches are highly problematic on the Model S.

Source: USA Today

Categories: Tesla

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71 Comments on "Consumer Reports To Tesla Motors: “We’re Not Complete Idiots”"

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Tesla should really step carefully when they deal with CR as they are very, very, good at what the do.

Yep. Plus it’s not like the door handle thing is a secret. It’s been all over the forums and Musk has mentioned it as well.

Being defensive about it is just dumb.

It’s weird. CR has been super-positive about the Model S – why poke the bear by suggesting there isn’t really a problem. If Tesla had a do-over it would’ve been more productive to contact CR and apologize, let them know how important it is to fix these issues and that they’re listening, working on it, etc… then get someone the hell over to their location and get the darn thing fixed, pronto.

PR 101 really.

So NOW everyone is saying what I had said some 1 year or so ago.

Tesla does NOT know how to do PR. In fact, they only have 1 PR guy, and he’s the boss, although they have hired someone else to do PR for the company…

It might become problematic if this shows that the “success story” narrative becomes more important than all the rest.

It’s very unfortunate that Elon Musk tends to overreact and get defensive at the least little criticism of anything Tesla does, and it’s also unfortunate that Musk has made himself the principal spokesman for Tesla Motors. Tesla would do better by muzzling their CEO, but of course that’s not gonna happen, as Musk is also… well, I don’t know any nice way to say someone is a control freak.

I greatly admire Elon Musk for his vision, his indefatigable energy, and his willingness to put his money where his mouth is in a way that almost no other billionaire does. But I’m not blind to his faults. This isn’t the first time that Musk has exhibited “foot-in-mouth disease”, and it almost certainly won’t be the last.


Well mentioned. Tesla’a reaction reflects the company’s arrogance. They should concentrate building rockets.

Um, CR reviews cars. Sure. But the reviewers are not clearly experts in interacting with a Model S…

CR admitted they didn’t know about remote start via phone app and Tesla has the vehicle logs which show that car was not usable, as CR claimed.

It was also not unreasonable to offer advice to CR on how to start the vehicle, given that door handle errors don’t disable putting the vehicle into drive mode.

Personally, I’ll believe TM over CR any day about the state of their vehicles in a given situation.

CR tries to represent average joe…

If it doesn’t work or average joe, CR will point it out. It is consistent, at least!

That’s the whole point. *Consumers* aren’t experts in cars either, whether it’s any one particular car, or all of them. I’m not particularly expert with my own car. I know a couple of things about the car, but expert like I am at my day job? No.

According to Consumer Reports which is a better car a Camry or a Corvette.

So yes you guys are Idiots.

Very stupid from Tesla to pick a fight with CR, they love Tesla, the PR person who respect should be fired


CU has been Continuously Anti-Hybrid and EV, and that hasn’t changed.

You kidding or just living under a rock lately? They love Tesla.

…and Hybrids!


And the Model X funky doors are yet to arrive.

And even you, will have to break down and publicly admit to their superior utility and quality.

If the Model X’s falcon doors “break down”, will you admit that Tesla made a bad design choice?

Only if there are a higher than normal statistical frequency of problems with them. Currently, no such data exists.

Keep in mind: All machines break down. So one problem door or handle is not cause for a recall / redesign. It’s simly a natural aspect of the Universe, called “Entropy”.


“Only if there are a higher than normal statistical frequency of problems with them.”

Let me shorten it for you…


“Only if there are a higher than normal statistical frequency of problems with them.”

What is the comparison to? Car doors in general? I think there is a good chance they’ll have more problems than car doors in general because they are more complex. Or is the comparison to other gull-wing doors? And there might not be much data on that.

Perhaps we should compare to lift gates?

Speculawyer said:

“What is the comparison [with Model X falcon wing doors] to? Car doors in general? I think there is a good chance they’ll have more problems than car doors in general because they are more complex.”

A good chance yes, the odds do run that way, but not necessarily. As a case in point, I offer the gear train of the Volt. It’s quite complex compared to the transmission of the average gas guzzler, yet according to reports, the Volt drivetrain doesn’t have a higher failure rate than average for a car.

Superior engineering and quality control do count.

“I offer the gear train of the Volt. It’s quite complex compared to the transmission of the average gas guzzler”

I highly disagree. Voltec is very simple compared with a 8/9/10 speed transmission!

Only those who doesn’t understand it consider it as “complex”…

You’re joking, right?

Apparently, the guy who is completely clueless on how transmission works is calling out for a joke. LOL…

Let me put it this way, have you opened up a 8-speed transmisson and see how many actuators, hydraulic clutches and planetary gearset there are inside of it?

Why don’t you google it and then count the similar components inside the Voltec planetary gearset and then we can discuss it again.

Or do it this way, compare the size of the 8-speed transmission against the Voltec and see which one is larger…

Yes, the Voltec has more SW and is complex in terms of SW due to its numbers of modes, but the transmission itself is actual much simpler mechanically than any 8/9/10 speed transmission.

The modes control are mostly due with 3 clutches and the two electric motors which are naturally driven the car in any case.

I am sure you can easily Google a typical 8-speed or higher transmission diagram but since you couldn’t do it in the previous reply, here is a sample of the Mercedez 8-speed transmission and how it looks…

This IS an article about “a higher than normal statistical frequency of problems” with the doors, and you still have people rabidly defending Tesla. The MX falcon doors, good or bad, will have the same thing.

I’m curious how the falcon doors will work in winter or rainy weather. Will rain droplets and/or snow go falling into the cabin due to the falcon doors?

… unless they’re different. 🙂

Driver’s door are regular doors on the X. Unless you enter your car through the rear doors, and then climb into the front seat, there is no chance of the X being “undrivable” because of the back doors.

“…there is no chance of the X being ‘undrivable’ because of the back doors.”

No chance? I can think of at least one scenario: The door gets stuck half-way open, and cannot be closed. That would make it unsafe to drive on public roads, and in fact you probably wouldn’t even be able to get it out of a standard garage.

You know, we haven’t heard from you in a while.

We miss that. The not hearing from you part.

+ 1,000,000!

Serious, it is the variety of opinion which makes this site interesting. I would become stiff bored reading comments otherwise…

This tendency that Tesla has to invent needs we did not seem to have (retractable door handles, gull wing doors) is their Achilles heel IMO. It is plenty good enough to have the longest range EV out there with the highest battery energy density.

My own experience of faulty door handles in 30 years of driving was:
Around were I live (Luxembourg): not seen one car with that specific problem.
During a short stay in West Africa (4 months): plenty of cars with door handles problem (often due to straight forward absence of it).


I can see the point gullwing doors can provide to the X, althought the complexity of it does make it very questionable, but I don’t know what retractable door handle really add to the S.
Seems like flush spring loaded door handle would have done the same function without the breakdown.
K.I.S.S. indeed

I know we all love our phones, however, requiring a phone to be on and charged and to be in an area with data coverage to be able to drive your car is a ridiculous position for Tesla take. My phone runs out of battery almost daily. I shouldn’t expect to drive my car with a dead phone or god forbid, I left it at home.

Lol, Tesla PR gone wild!

Not at all. The phone is but another backup method / convenience for the driver that CR was not aware of.

Don’t blame the folks at Tesla for properly doing their jobs.

What if I don’t have a smart phone?

Is smart phone required for Tesla buyer?

I want to meet the Tesla Model S owner who still uses a Motorola StarTAC!!

If my StarTAC could still find service I would totally hook it back up. It was so much more reliable, compact…and of course now super reto-cool.

Fair disclaimer: my Samsung S6/Note Pro still wouldn’t ever be too far away

or a Nokia bar phone…


Strangely, my phone battery lasts 2-3 days, and if it does run out I pop the back off and put a spare one in.

Oh wait that’s not strange at all. It’s called “I didn’t waste my money on an overpriced iPhone with shoddy battery life”.


Simple solutions are what got us in this mess, currently looking for sustainable non-fossil fueled transportation.

There is nothing inherently wrong with innovation, especially in an industry that seems to avoid it at all costs.

Tesla didn’t put automatically extending door handles on the Model S in an attempt to find a better solution to personal transportation than burning oil. They put those unnecessarily complex door handles on just because of the gee-whiz “ain’t that kewl?” factor. The ongoing problem with door handles are an “unforced error” by Tesla. They could easily have made them optional, and still have used them in their demos and advertising, while allowing owners the option of “opting out” of the unnecessary complexity.

K.I.S.S. indeed!

I think Tesla needs to get this Model X out the door with this Falcon-wing door because it is way too late to change course now.

However, I REALLY hope they have a skunkworks project for the same vehicle with conventional rear doors that they can release a year or two down the road. That version could cost less to build and be sold at a lower price. It would probably have less problems too. But it might but much harder to get into the 3rd row of seats.

And such a version would be easier to use with roof racks.

I haven’t decided if “roof racks” are a real issue or not??? I feel like I can count on one hand how many Merc, BMW, Porsche, and Audi SUVs I have seen in the past year with any type of cargo on their roofs.

Being unaware of a simple method to make the car driveable does not make the car “undrivable”. It only makes it undrivable to those that are ignorant.

I love CR, but come on guys.

A method of turning on the car which requires the driver to have a operational smart phone, and to have a particular app installed, and to know how to use that app, is not by any stretch of the imagination “a simple method”.

Consumer Reports loves Tesla cars. This is the second Tesla they’ve bought. If the car guys at CR can’t figure out how to get the car to turn on, then this is most definitely a problem. It shouldn’t take a professional Tesla engineer or service tech to make the car operational. If the CR car guys, with all the experience they already had with the Model S, couldn’t figure out how to turn the car on, then what chance does the average car owner have?

Defending Tesla in this case is simply not appropriate, period. Let us Tesla enthusiasts not make the same mistake Elon Musk does, and get defensive. Let us be honest and admit there is a problem here.

Well spoken.

“We’re not complete idiots”. In parsing that statement, to me its the most candid thing I’ve ever read in CR. Regarding 40 out of 1200 problems, more than one Tesla Tech has told me 100% of the early door handles at least have been replaced. So perhaps that figure means ‘ongoing trouble’. As regards my Tesla, it was sold yesterday to a Texan after calling me to discuss charging cords included with the car. He’ll have a lot of fun with the car, as I did. (Interestingly, the HUGE Basil motors dealerships in Western NY don’t have a single EVSE at any of their dozzen dealerships. Nothing for Ford, Chevy or Cadillac. I know GM insists on at least 2 EVSE’s per Caddy dealer, and used to insist on at least 2 at each Chevy dealer. The Basils must have told GM and Ford that if you want us to sell these products we’re not going to put in infrastructure we’re never going to use, since if the cars need a charge up we’ll just use the ‘travel charger’ included with the car. GM apparently buckled first, seeing as they didn’t want to lose the sales. I wonder if Basil… Read more »

Musk’s ego will be his downfall.

He messed up industry partnerships with Daimler and Toyota as well as with minor partners.

Now he alienates CR…what’s next? Panasonic?

PS: Tesla wouldn’t even exist today without Daimler saving them in early 2009.

He hasn’t ‘alienated’ CR, you idiot. So, one PR dude got a bit rude when dealing with them. That hardly constitutes some kind of Musk-vs-CR attack, does it now?

CR said it themselves; we’re not idiots. I doubt this tiny, little thing would put them off Tesla.

“He hasn’t ‘alienated’ CR”

It’s the guy at the top who defines the corporate culture and communications.

And yes, Tesla alienated both Daimler and Toyota.

tftf said: “Musk’s ego will be his downfall. “He messed up industry partnerships with Daimler and Toyota as well as with minor partners. “Now he alienates CR…” Looks like you’re overreacting every bit as much as Musk did. I think Consumer Reports is more level-headed than that. I’m pretty sure it was Toyota that “messed up” the partnership with Tesla, what with all their EV-bashing PR statements. I see no evidence whatsoever that Musk “messed up” the partnership with Daimler. Daimler got what it wanted out of it, and what it wanted was not a long-term deal. “what’s next? Panasonic?” This is the one which actually concerns me. Panasonic is very obviously reluctant to invest the amount of money that Tesla wants them to invest in the Gigafactory. Musk’s public statements about that seem designed to try to embarrass Panasonic to pressure them into ponying up the money. This is not the way responsible executives conduct business, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Panasonic makes its displeasure known by digging in its heels. When it comes to building the Gigafactory, Tesla needs Panasonic much, much more than Panasonic needs Tesla. Elon Musk should quit trying to publicly pressure… Read more »

Did Toyota’s EV-bashing PR statements come before Elon’s “fool cell” comments. I thought it was the other way around.

Oh, I think Musk’s “fool cell” comments came first. The difference being that Musk’s comments about fuel cell cars are factually accurate, and Toyota’s EV bashing isn’t.

But even aside from objective truthfulness, I don’t see the two as being equivalent at all, as far as attacking what the other company is doing. Fool cell cars are a very minor sideline for Toyota; EVs are Tesla’s main product. Indeed, until quite recently, EVs and EV drivetrains were Tesla’s only products.

In what way is the term “fool cell” factually accurate and not what it superficially appears to be: a petty barb designed to embarrass FCV competitors?

If Toyota’s execs were referring to Tesla’s cars as “Rolexes-on-wheels” and “toys for the 1%,” Tesla’s execs would rightly be offended. Musk’s proclivity to run his mouth does not help Tesla’s business relationships.

Now that’s a serious door handle problem. Coincidentally also could have been solved had the driver not been ignorant of a certain feature of the vehicle.

TESLA 0-60 3.1s
bmz 0-60 3.8s

case closed. TESLA has won.

Well that settles that!


I open the trunk of my MS every single day, it opens in the same mechanical way or similar to the Falcon door, it has the same use of the driver door, 16 months 0 problems. Wjat about the i8 doors? Same issue.

Nope. The Model S hatchback “door” has just one set of hinges and one servo motor to open it. The Model X falcon wing doors will have twice the number of hinges, twice the number of servo motors, and will also be relying on sensors to determine how much room there is for opening the door.

Much higher chances there for failure.

Consumer Reports said: “Of the 1,278 2012-2014 Tesla Model S cars in our 2014 Survey, 31 were reported to have problems on locks and latches… “These are unusually high problem rates. The average problem rate for locks and latches is less than one-half of 1 percent for each of the model years 2012 through 2014.” 31 out of 1278 is 2.43%, so that would be about five times what CS says is the normal rate of such problems. It’s great to finally be able to assign a real figure to the failure rate on Model S door handles. I wish more figures like this were available, because it generally comes down to some Tesla bashers claiming a problem is “common” based on a few anecdotal reports, and Tesla cheerleaders countering that the problem is quite rare. But I’d be far more interested to see what the failure rate has been after the first year of production. I wouldn’t consider even a 2.43% failure rate to be that problematic in a new auto maker’s first mass produced car, if they were able to correct the problem in the next production year. Now, if the problem with the door handles still occurs… Read more »

On my test drive in May I was informed that to move from park to drive. CR should be aware of this. NORMAL PPERATING PROCEDURE FOR ALL AUTOMATICS VEHICHLES INCLUDING GAS VEHICLES.