Munro & Associates is a “competitive benchmarking” company headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan, close to the heart of the US auto manufacturing industry. It makes its living tearing apart everything from automobiles to rice steamers to see how they are made and how much they cost to manufacture. Some people call the process “destructive testing” and it is standard procedure in the auto industry. It’s how Company A knows what Company B is doing, how they are doing it, and how much it costs them to do it.
Munro has just begun a teardown of Tesla Model 3 and Sandy Munro, CEO of the company, tells John McElroy of Autoline the car has “flaws we would see on a Kia in the ’90s.” Some of you may not remember the cars Kia built back then, but they were pretty dreadful. The fact that Kias are now some of the best built cars in the world is because of feedback from competitive benchmarking companies like Munro.
The video of their conversation is fascinating stuff, but if you don’t have 7 minutes and 35 seconds to watch the whole thing, here are some relevant parts as highlighted by Jalopnik, where we ran across the news. Munro found some extra sealing material for the driver’s side window that had been glued on. “This is an afterthought or something. … You’re not supposed to just glue on another piece. Usually you take whatever’s wrong and pull it out and put another one in. Geez, I never saw that before.”
Panel gaps and overall fit and finish have been dissed by others — something some Tesla fans furiously dismiss. Here’s what Sandy Munro found: “The gaps on this car are like — you can see ’em from Mars. This is really, not so good.” Turning his attention to the rear of the car, he says. “Let’s just have a look at … the gaps. If we look over here, I can barely get my fingernail in. And if we look over here … I can almost put my thumb in. This is … very unusual. The tolerance stack-ups on this car are just, like nothing we’ve ever seen before. Not since … the ’70s or something.”
The beatdown continues. “I don’t understand how it got to this point. These are flaws that we would see on a Kia in the ’90s or something. I can’t imagine how they released this. It’s just a surprise. A really big surprise for me.” Ouch!
This is the point where Tesla defenders start spitting fire. How dare someone criticize the Model 3, the most transformative automobile since the Model T? Doesn’t Munro earn most of its income working for the Big 3 Detroit automakers? Isn’t Jalopnik actually run by anti-Tesla Russian trolls?
Cool your jets, people. This isn’t a Tesla hit piece and we certainly don’t have an anti-Tesla agenda here at CleanTechnica. In fact, we come close to being Tesla fanbois ourselves. What this story should tell you is that Tesla, making a brand new car in a brand new way on a brand new assembly line, might still have a thing or two to learn about manufacturing.
People have said for generations to never buy a new car during the first year of production — from any automaker. Those who absolutely have to have the newest new thing will disagree, but those who want a well built car might prefer to wait until Tesla gets its act together. Your mileage may vary. See dealer for details.