In his latest video, Ben Sullins tells his audience why he thinks J.D. Power was not fair to Tesla when it placed the company last in its quality ranking. At the same time, the YouTuber presented his history of issues with all four of his Teslas so far. That raises a more important question than the one the video tries to answer: is Tesla fair to customers when it repeats the “within specs” speech again and again?
Sullins just gives us an overview of all the problems he had ever since he first bought a Tesla. He also remembers how different Tesla Service Centers were back then.
When he took delivery of his Model S, the EV had a big bow on it (probably red), and the youtuber and his family took a one-hour private tour around what was already a used car. As Sullins puts it, “very different than what it is today.” Sandy Munro pointed that out as a reason why Tesla should not build its affordable &25,000 vehicle.
The only issues the youtuber had with his Model S were the 12V battery and a broken windshield wiper arm. His Model 3 was the next one, and Sullins had more serious issues with it. Tesla replaced the steering rack, the MCU, the center console, the seats, and the glass roof, which broke in the Tesla logo's shape.
Sullins then traded his Model S on a Model X and faced design flaws, such as opening the falcon-wing doors and getting wet with any water over them. His air-conditioning also went out, but it is his new Model Y that has the most problems.
The trunk lid did not close. The frunk lid, the left-rear door trim, and the charge port door were misaligned, and the cover that is equivalent to the charge port door on the right side is loose. Inside, the sun visors were squeaky, as well as the steering wheel.
The coat hooks were replaced, but their rubber coating is coming off, and Sullins fears his children may rip them apart. The youtuber sums that up as “not the greatest experience,” looking pretty disappointed: most of the issues have not been fixed or are just a little better than they were before.
Sullins apparently decided to adopt a forgiving approach about that – probably because he did not have more serious issues. The youtuber mentions some Model Y owners who had their frunk lids popping open when in movement, which we were not aware of.
Another serious matter would be the rear seats' alignment, which we also did not know about. If you have experienced any of these problems, make sure to get in touch with us at email@example.com or through our Facebook page.
Sullins later stresses many Model Y owners sent him emails saying their cars were flawless. We just wonder if their assessment is any similar to what you can see in the video below, right in the first 15 seconds after you hit play. You don't have to go much further than that.
Either there is a new definition for alignment, or this youtuber is just way too forgiving about Tesla’s issues. Flawless is another definition that cannot change: either the cars are perfect or not. That’s what J.D. Power tries to measure.
When Sullins gets into that, he disputes the result presented by the consultancy on Tesla’s quality. A constant improvement would be one reason for him not to believe that, even if the Model Y still presents multiple quality issues, such as with the paint and the suspension.
Suspension issues with Teslas are reported for many years already and were even investigated by NHTSA in 2016, the same year in which Sullins bought his first Model S. If this constant improvement policy was effective, shouldn’t these problems had been fixed four years ago? For good?
Sullins continues and wonders if J.D. Power got enough cars to make a fair quality evaluation. Still, his main point of criticism is that Tesla did not grant the research company access to its customer registration data.
Without this information, Sullins believes J.D. Power should either have excluded Tesla from its survey, or Tesla should have granted the company access to the data.
He also compares having Tesla in the ranking to declaring Tiger Woods lost a golf round because he did not show up. The issue is that Tesla is in a tournament: any competitor that fails to show up in any round loses precious points.
Having elements to compare cars is important, and J.D. Power is theoretically as neutral as EPA to present unbiased measurements. In EPA’s case, we learned thanks to Car And Driver that range numbers are not as comparable as we thought they were. For the record, Tesla takes advantage of that.
Refusing to participate in J.D. Power’s rankings is like refusing to talk to the press: it only harms the consumer, who loses an important information source to decide what to buy. In a way, complaining that Tesla was not treated fairly by J.D. Power is like Elon Musk complaining about the Tesla Battery Day media coverage.
Both J.D. Power and the press had to make do with what they had to keep customers informed. J.D. Power’s rankings only became relevant because the public trusted them, as much as they trust the media to keep up to date with news.
Ironically, Sullins's description of all the issues he had with his EVs confirms J.D. Power’s assessment that Tesla desperately needs to improve quality control. If its cars are as flawless as its supporters claim, why not have companies like J.D. Power and Consumer Reports confirm that? Why not answer media questions about eventual problems?
One thing cannot be denied: it does not matter whether you are a regular, anonymous customer or a popular youtuber that loves Tesla – his YouTube channel used to be called Teslanomics. Both will get the “within specs” speech and the same issues that made it notorious. It is up to Tesla to be notable for something else. Build quality would be an amazing choice for that.
Source: Ben Sullins