Consumer Reports Is Wrong About Future Reliability Of Teslas

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Originally published on Tesla Motors Club.

First of all, I am not blaming Consumer Reports for being biased or anything nefarious. They have their own criteria and are totally within their right to add or remove anyone to their recommendation list. However, their conclusion regarding future reliability is simply based on a false premise.

The “below average” reliability rating is based on early year Model S’s. The first batch of electric cars built by Tesla who’s only prior experience in carmaking is retrofitting an electric engine into a Lotus chassis. The logic is that since this early version product now proves to have “below average” reliability, Consumer Reports extrapolates that future model years will have similar reliability issues. Furthermore, Consumer Reports concludes that since the reliability issue does not stem to EVs in general, citing the Nissan Leafs, it calls into question Tesla’s ability to scale its production, in particular for the Model 3.

The logic used by Consumer Reports here is simply wrong. It is one thing if a 100 year old car company making the same product with minor iterations produces a car with “below average” reliability. Then at least you can extrapolate with some firm standing. In Tesla’s case however, it is like saying “Since the Iphone 1 had so and so bugs, we expect future models to be just as buggy”. Elon Musk himself has admitted that, initially, Tesla was not good at making cars. He may have been talking about efficiency, but also overall you cannot expect a company in its infancy to be experts at making a brand new product. It is only natural that Tesla will improve over time at manufacturing, and we are already seeing that come to fruition in the model 2015 compared to 2013, after two short years. Future models will become MORE reliable as Tesla becomes a more mature company and manufacturer, not less. Just like any new technology on the market that gets better with time, not worse. And I hate saying this because sometimes it is used in hyperbole, but in this case its true: Consumer Reports is viewing Tesla as a car company, instead of a technology company that is improving its technology over time.

This is what happens when Consumer Reports makes blind extrapolations based simply on history and ignoring reality or logic.

Reprinted with permission.

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