Tesla Test Driver / Quality Inspector Explains His Day-To-Day Duties

Tesla

FEB 8 2018 BY STEVEN LOVEDAY 18

Tesla

Tesla Model X

Quality inspector Jeff Hickethier test drives Tesla vehicles as they come off the assembly line, he shares the experience and his obsessively critical nature.

Jeff has been performing these tests for years (six of which have been at Tesla), and now he’s actually a trainer for new inspectors. He’s been dealing with cars for most of his life. In his 20s, he ran an aftermarket car parts business out of his parent’s basement. He went on to work for a few related companies and even managed a large automotive outfit until it shut down.

Tesla

Tesla Model 3 (Image Credit: Tom Moloughney/InsideEVs)

Jeff’s job is to comb over every vehicle for issues prior to delivery. While the word on the streets is that Tesla vehicles falter when it comes to quality, fit, and finish (it all depends on who you talk to), Jeff considers himself highly obsessive over the details. He told Business Insider:

“The things that I find are usually not going to be anything that a customer would complain about.

Sometimes I’m too critical. They’ll tell me, ‘Nobody’s complaining — pull yourself back!'”

According to Business Insider, 50-year-old Jeff Hickethier drives his BMW 3 Series to Fremont five days a week to hit Tesla’s test track. He leaves his Audi R8 at home. Apparently, he’s done pretty well for himself, but one would think he’d own a Tesla, right?

Anyhow, his arrival time is 5:45 AM, at which point the factory in Fremont is already getting quite busy. His initial time at the factory often includes touching base with some engineers, and then he heads outside for the remainder of the workday. Jeff shares:

“Most companies do sample testing. They take one out of every couple thousand cars.”

However, Tesla tests many more vehicles. The automaker is still “new” in the grand scheme of things, and can’t really afford to have continuous issues. He says:

“There are so many quality checks it’s ridiculous.

What we’re checking for are items like alignment and brakes. We’re taught to focus on every little thing.”

Tesla

Tesla Model S

As far as Jeff is concerned, you can never be too critical. These cars end up in people’s driveways after he’s driven them, and there’s no excuse for an issue that could have (and should have) been resolved. He claims that he won’t even allow a small creak to exist, even if no one else notices it. Despite the demands associated with his job, Jeff still believes that he “probably” has the “coolest job at Tesla.”

Jeff understands that Tesla will continue to be under constant scrutiny. His job is stressful, and no matter how hard he works, people will still find problems. Tesla is up against legacy automakers that have been succeeding at their craft for decades. At this point, Tesla still spends every penny it makes (and more) to invest in the future. It can’t risk faltering due to vehicle quality being deemed unacceptable. Business Insider explains:

“For Hickethier, handing the stress is simply what he does. He runs each vehicle through a gantlet of challenges, ranging from strips of bumps and rusty chunks of metal to locate lose components or suspension flaws to speed runs around the track to double-check that a Tesla can live up to its reputation for velocity. All the while, he’s scrutinizing the car for the types of nearly invisible flaws that he has spent years calling out. He may have a trainee sitting next to him, learning the ropes, or he may be in the passenger seat, passing on his obsessiveness to the next generation.”

Source: Business Insider

Categories: Tesla

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18 Comments on "Tesla Test Driver / Quality Inspector Explains His Day-To-Day Duties"

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DrJJ

For another point of view on M3 quality, read this:
http://autoweek.com/article/green-cars/tesla-model-3-walkaround-teardown-engineering-firm-highlights-assembly-issues

I am a concerned reservation holder (day 1) and have never owned or shorted a share of Tesla stock and never will.

Hayden Marsh

Why don’t they put the VIN in the article, or at least what car number that is. For all we know it could be VIN 1003 or some really early car that had a lot of issues. With every vehicle built, the quality only gets better

Pushmi-Pullyu

Ah yes, thanks for pointing to that perfect example of a shockingly biased “review” of a Tesla Model 3.

Let me highlight perhaps the worst example of bias from that fake “review”:

“If we look over here I can barely get my fingernail in,” Munro says. “And then we look over here, I can almost put my thumb in.”

But if you actually look at the video, what you see is the normal sort of 1-2 mm variance seen on just about every mass produced car.

“Almost put my thumb in”? Do we really need any more evidence of just how strong the anti-Tesla bias is there? No, I don’t think so!

comment image” width=”400″>

I urge all EV enthusiasts to post the picture above to all EV forums. Let’s fight the Big Lies from Tesla haters with facts and Truth!

Nix

DrJJ — Please post who paid for buying that car for teardown, and who paid for the teardown.

Follow the money.

DrJJ

I have no idea.

Chacama

This says it all: “Their clients are the automakers themselves, who pay Munro to figure out just how their competitors are building the latest models and what lurks beneath the bodywork.”

Brian McGranahan

Was he the one that missed that broken A pillar that’s been posted on the teslamotorsclub forum?

Six Electrics

No, he’s the one that missed the ghosting on 25,000 Model X windshields. And the spoilers that would rub against the body. And the half shafts that rumble. And the paunchy droopy headliners. And the squeaky middle row seats. And the failed door latches. And the failed ultrasonic door sensors.

Evidently this guy’s job performance is graded on the same scale as Elon’s.

Brian D

At this point in its development, unfortunately, every single 3 ought to be driven for 5 minutes on a test track in varying conditions. 1 out of 10, or more likely 1 of every 100 that he checks, is simply not enough.

Also, doing this in a moderate climate is making his job much easier. If this factory was in a northern state he’d be dealing multiple considerations.

The potential expansion noises coming from disparate adjacent materials.

Ice and snow gathering in channels and valleys, such as door seams and sunroof edges.

Noises from moving parts, improperly designed or inadequately lubricated, namely door hinges and window tracks.

Give me a Model 3 for a day here in Ohio and if I don’t find 20 issues, I’ll praise Tesla from a mountaintop. I’ve had more than my share of new cars in my life, and have never found one that is 100% perfect.

Get Real

Look, 3 brand new usernames just suddenly popping up to spew anti-Tesla FUD and follwed join 2 of out most rabid POS Serial anti-Tesla trolls who have been carpet-bombing the Tesla threads forever.

Gee I wonder what is going on?

More people waking up, putting down the red kool aid, and smelling the coffee, that’s what.

Pushmi-Pullyu

What’s going on is that Tesla’s increasing success, despite the delay, in ramping up Model 3 production is cutting the legs out from all the Tesla Hater cultists’ FUD. How can Tesla be growing, and growing rapidly, while they continue to whine that Tesla is a house of cards that’s going to collapse any day now?

Expect to see a rising tide of ever more desperate posts from the Tesla Hater cultists as they lose money faster and faster on their TSLA short investments, and as Big Oil shills become ever more desperate to counter the ever more clear reality of Tesla’s growing success; a success that has now blasted off the Earth and into outer space!

Go Tesla!

Get Real

Right, More people realizing what a mentally ill troll you are from your constant carpet-bombing here and also seeing how you and your other usernames are trying to spread basically fake news like the Trumpster.

What a clown you are MadBro.

Jayydeeee

So this is the guy that missed the rip in my rear seat, BPillar with a missing clip, and dead space in the handle and peeling gasket of my rear passenger door.

TM

They missed a big paint bubble on my chrome mirror. Fire these guys

Pushmi-Pullyu

Kudos to Tesla for solving its fit-and-finish problem! I’m very gratified to read, in the vast majority of posts and reviews from actual Model 3 owners, that the fit-and-finish of these cars is at least as good as the industry average, and perhaps even a bit better.

Meanwhile, I see the Tesla Hater cultists are getting more and more desperate to deny the reality of Tesla’s success here, and also to deny the reality that Tesla’s production of the Model 3 is going to outstrip every other EV maker in the world.

No less than 9 anti-Tesla FUD posts in only 15 comments here! Yeah, they are getting very desperate — and very silly — indeed!
😆 😆 😆

Go Tesla! Illegitimi non carborundum!

Brian D

I have not read a single credible mainstream review state that fit and finish is as good as the industry average.

http://www.roadandtrack.com/new-cars/first-drives/a15070866/tesla-model-3-test-drive-review/

“There are skills that Tesla still hasn’t mastered. Our Model 3’s turn signals blinked unsteadily and far too fast, like it was one incandescent bulb short of a complete circuit (Tesla says this was fixed with a software update after we returned the car). One DRL was notably dimmer than the other. Body panel gaps, particularly around the doors, were gaping and inconsistent; the paint showed a few sags and one spot of mismatched hue on the driver’s door.”

Call me whatever label you want, I’m not a “Hater”. The FH launch brought tears to my eyes. I’d love to see a 3rd domestic automaker rise up and be wildly successful.

I want a Model 3. I just don’t want one with paint streaks, panels misaligned, and chaotic turn signals. I’ll wait while they work the kinks out. Maybe by early 2020?