From the same team that brought you the unsubstantiated hype about Tesla’s demise… From the creators of the overblown stories of each and every Tesla that ever caught on fire, may have caught on fire, looked like it could have caught on fire or was potentially, allegedly parked in a location where the sunshine could, on at least one planet in the universe, result in a fire… We bring you a story from Business Insider that frames up Tesla as a terrible company because it ditched the “brake and roll” test for the Model 3.
The BI article comes with a set of leaked photos of Tesla’s production management system for one of the Model 3 general assembly lines. BI claims that Tesla has abandoned the “critical” brake and roll test for the Model 3, which “ensures the car is correctly aligned.” The FUD is strong with BI this week, as it takes a single fact and extrapolates it to the nth degree just to pull in a few clicks. “The test was apparently shut down before 3 a.m. on June 26, according to a person familiar with the matter. It’s unclear why this particular test was halted or for how long.”
To be clear, we are all about holding manufacturers accountable for building safe vehicles. To accomplish this, automotive manufacturers typically follow a rigorous set of standardized tests — like the brake and roll test — to ensure the vehicle coming out the factory gate is a safe, reliable product. That’s quality assurance 101. But Tesla has never been one to conform just for the sake of conformance. It has never built its products, software, experiences, factories, or tests according to a standard just because that’s how it has always been done.
Quite the opposite, in fact. According to its own mission statement, Tesla builds electric vehicles, “to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass market electric cars to market as soon as possible.” From its foundation, Tesla has built perhaps the most innovative, disruptive, safest vehicles in the history of cars.
Starting with that foundation, Tesla CEO Elon Musk regularly takes to the stage to talk about the imperatives motivating the company. Many of his presentations start with mission number 1: climate change. It’s the reason for the company existing in the first place and drives most of what the company does. I don’t think the coffee and Kind snack bars in Tesla Service Centers feed into that directly, but you get the picture.
After climate change, Elon inevitably talks about safety. The safety of Tesla vehicles, the safety of Tesla employees. Anyone who has followed Tesla knows that Safety is building block #1 when it comes to designing a new car. The results speak for themselves — the Model S, X, and 3 are the safest vehicles on the road even.
Back to the brake and roll test, Business Insider claimed that this test was a critical test to ensure proper alignment of the vehicle. While it does test some of the systems impacted by vehicle alignment, it is fundamentally not a test of vehicle alignment. Fori Automation, a leading provider of testing equipment for the brake and roll test, notes that the test is comprised of a handful of tests, including:
- Dynamic Brake
- 4-Wheel Drive
- Speed Testing and Speed Calibration
- Noise vibration or harness testing
- Drag force tests
- Wireless dynamic vehicle testing
- Cruise control testing
- Electrical integration
- Transmission shift point
- Individual wheel testing
- Reverse testing
Some of the tests in the lineup are used to validate vehicle alignment, but the test is not specifically used to confirm vehicle alignment. Tesla checks alignment on every single Model 3 it makes — and always has — as part of the general assembly process. Tesla actually designed its own alignment system for the Model 3 GA3 line that is much more accurate than the alignment systems used by other manufacturers, the company claims. A Tesla spokesperson shared with us:
“Every car we build goes through rigorous quality checks and must meet exacting specifications, including brake tests.”
For dynamic tests, Tesla continues to test drive every single Model 3 built on its test track, where additional quality checks are performed. CNET confirmed that all of the relevant tests in the brake and roll test are being performed on Tesla’s Model 3 vehicles in its track testing.
Braking tests are a key component of this phase of the testing and have received additional attention after Consumer Reports raised alarm on the Model 3 for large variances in braking distances. Tesla addressed these and within 1 week had an update pushed out to all Model 3s that had been sold. The Tesla spokesperson continued:
“To be extremely clear, we drive *every* Model 3 on our test track to verify braking, torque, squeal and rattle. There are no exceptions.”
Tesla’s vehicles are fundamentally different from traditional internal combustion vehicles. As the rapid resolution of the Consumer Reports braking issue demonstrated, it also has the ability to resolve many issues remotely, without having to bother drivers with a visit to the local service center. Safety continues to be a foundational part of Tesla’s vehicles, and no amount of unsubstantiated hype will change that.
Everything we have seen from Tesla to date has moved the industry forward and resulted in vehicles and products that are far superior from anything else on the market. If anything, the elimination of the brake and roll test is a sign that it is confident it can build the next generation of safe, quality electric vehicles using another testing method. As for me, I’m putting my money — and my family — in a Model 3 as soon as the standard battery is available.