Yes, we know the pictures were taken by a short seller.
When Tom Moloughney presented the insight that the Tesla Model Y has a known design flaw, we expected people would be mad. That did not prevent us from finding similar cases that showed that the new EV indeed has an issue with its rear hatch. It is more vulnerable to fender benders and even to minor rear bumps, such as reversing into a pole or a wall, even at slow speeds. It was a warning for Model Y buyers and potential owners. We felt they should be made aware.
We had thought it would take a while for the first case of rear hatch damage to a Model Y to appear. It didn't, as the video above shows. Mark Johnston – a short-seller – made the video, as well as providing us with the pictures in the gallery below.
What we asked ourselves was: could Mark Johnston have faked the images? Would presenting these images make Tesla have a bad result or fail, as some short-sellers want it to? Would that be bait? We decided to talk to Johnston.
You can see the original tweet here:
The images were not very good, with strange lighting and glare. They could be Photoshop work from a talented person. So we asked Johnston if he had taken those pictures. He confirmed to be the photographer and we shared our concerns with the images. He went back to where he took the first images to show they were real. This is the address.
“It is across the street from the Tesla Service Center in Dallas, Texas, where they are storing inventory.”
If you doubt the car exists and live in Dallas, you can go there right now to check for yourself.
We warned Johnston his images would be permanently under suspicion from Tesla supporters because he is a known short-seller. So he decided to make the video above, which is much harder to fake, and to tell us this.
"I might be a short seller, but I'm a reasonable guy. Yes, I am short the stock. Am I specifically betting that the company will fail? No. I just don't believe that $90 billion is the proper value for a company that isn't consistently making money in any of its business segments. That's all. Tesla sold more cars than I thought they would over the past 3 years. Sure. There are some things that I got wrong. I can admit that. I just don't believe that the fundamentals support the current valuation. If the company begins to consistently make money in all of its business segments, then maybe I will have to reconsidered my view. But for now, that isn't the case."
Gallery: Check The First Images Of A Tesla Model Y Rear Hatch Dent
Regardless of his intentions, what we needed to know was if the pictures were authentic. We have no reason to doubt they are real. Johnston said the car had just left the carrier. The dent on the rear hatch may have been caused at the factory or while transporting it.
"To be fair, I have posted other pictures of Model Y recently. I do believe that the quality of the production is incredibly poor, at least for now. Much like the early Model 3 days. Will it stay this way? Probably not. I try to highlight the issue, but I also try to be reasonable."
Johnston corrected us when we thought the yellow marks were made after his tweet. He said the car already had it when he first took the pictures. It was at this point that we saw the original images also had them.
He even took a picture of the VIN number to warn the possible owner his or her car had an issue.
It is 5YJYGDEF7LF002854. If you happen to be the owner or future owner, let us know.
"If this truly is a design flaw, I just hope that they fix it. That's it. If this were about me being malicious or something, then I would be screaming that the design is intentional. That it is an attempt to make more money from service or repairs. Even as a short seller, I can acknowledge that the proper thing for Tesla to do is to halt the current deliveries, fix the flaw, and start producing a car that will likely have less of a potentially repair issue on any type of rear-end collision. Is that a short term image problem for Tesla because they 'delivered' fewer cars? Yes. But it also means that they are saving themselves the potential pain of incredibly upset customers in the future."
We would not go that far. We know redesigning the car at this point would cost a lot unless Tesla made only the rear bumper bolder, just like Honda did with the Fit. And that would be difficult to do in a pleasant way in what relates to design.
Our main goal was to warn future owners that the rear hatch will be an Achilles heel of the Model Y. Whether our readers like it or not, a short-seller had the first evidence that our warning was right. For us to avoid reporting it just because of the source would be unreasonable.