A little dose of reality

I took delivery on Jan 3rd, and absolutely LOVE my car, but as I've been reading all the Broder comments (I made some myself), and reading the other threads every day I wonder - this may be heresy - if we need to stop, take a breath and maybe stop smoking the Tesla weed for a little while.

Yes we all love the car; yes Tesla is doing some AMAZING things; yes Elon is an über visionary who is pushing the envelope and delivering on it, but:

  • they met the June launch date for the Model S but only by hand building a dozen cars, then not releasing another car for months. Marketing stunt by any other name.
  • many of the signature cars were really release candidate cars that did not have the fit and finish of even the early production cars (confirmed by a TM service tech)
  • the signature premium paid by signature owners enabled them to get their cars only a few weeks earlier, or in some cases a few weeks LATER than production owners
  • the signature premium, rather than providing a 'deal' by discounting the optional extras as a reward for dropping $40k on TM did no such thing
  • TM is consistently underperformed on all delivery date promises since the Founders Cars, the latest being the slip of the 40kWh cars. 5000 cars in year one? Try less than 3000.
  • I know we are early adopters, but the reality of the fit and finish of the current cars is FAR away from the expectations set by Elon when he was 'personally inspecting' the cars off the line. Body panels don't fit. Chrome isn't aligned. Scratches in paintwork. PPF applied over the top of paint problems...
  • and handles that don't work, and doors that open on their own! Seriously?
  • the delivery process has been less than optimal in many circumstances - cars getting lost, cars going into limbo, cars damaged during delivery, wrong cars delivered...
  • the level of knowledge of TM 'product specialists' leaves A LOT to be desired. The forums are full of stories of owners being given conflicting and flatly wrong information by TM employees. I know this is a startup, but its not that hard to train new employees
  • we are still waiting for a long list of items that have been promised in writing by TM - seven months after launch and we still don't have a parcel shelf??? Really???
  • TM has been very quiet about the performance of the car in cold weather, to the extent that it could be considered deliberately misleading.
  • Overall communication has been less than stellar. Yes GB has stepped into the forums a couple of times, but we shouldn't be comparing TM's communication with old Detroit. We should be comparing it against some of Silicon Valley's best and by that standard they are falling short, especially when their average customer is dropping $100k, not $2.99 in the app store
  • the whole temporary tag/title process seems to be almost a running joke

I'm not suggesting we don't cut TM a lot of slack. I'm not suggesting they aren't on their way to building the best car in the world. All I'm suggesting is that we need to inject a bit of balance into the conversation, and acknowledge the gaps where they exist. Toning down the hubris on TM's part wouldn't go amiss.

I agree with Nick. He wasn't blasting the company -- on the contrary -- but just observing that many people on the forum cut them too much slack. Some things that people complain about do seem kind of frivolous, but there are other things I read and think, "Man, I'm glad that hasn't happened to me!" Invariably, no matter how "serious" an issue might be, a number of people denigrate the complainant for even bringing it up. I think there is a certain amount of group-think going on, not willing to blame the company for anything.

That said, I am thrilled with mine so far! I have only had my MS for a little over a week. A day or two before I got it, a couple of people I know sent me the Broder article (which was before Elon's formal response came out), and the article someone wrote about the MS being a beta. I also read about some of the windshield issues people were having. For the first time I had (not regrets but) a little trepidation. Was I following my heart instead of my head by putting down more than twice as much as I ever spent before on a new car?

I have had none of those issues. My doors shut very nicely and firmly, like a MB. I had heard so many negative things about the sound system -- I think it is really nice. No problems with door handles, or windshields.

Honestly I think the forums have covered all of these things and more. I don't see the weed being smoked here, really.

And Tesla has not been removing inconvenient threads as Apple sometimes does, to name one Silicon Valley example.

By the way, training people in quantity is very hard. Especially when there are so many moving parts and you need them to use common sense. Common sense is impossible to teach, so people need to be sized up and put in roles that match their ability to resolve correctly.

VIN133 so I'm a fairly early car and luckily I haven't had as many problems as many others I guess. The car certainly has its quirks. I say quirks lovingly. Yes, I spent 110 grand and I suppose I should expect perfection, but I also knew what I was getting into-- not only it is the first production run of a new model, but its the first production run of a whole new car! I expected problems, but bought the car because Telsa is not just a car, it is a movement. Naive, maybe, but those who continually gripe need to be realistic. Thus far, Telsa has been more than responsive to the few issues I've had, and I'm sure that, with time, they will deliver on the promised upgrades.

My latest issue: the auto adjust for the mirrors stopped working when I did the latest SW upgrade. Annoying, but not that big a deal. I know I'm weird, but I actually found it kind of charming.

So folks, be patient. If you want tomato perfection, don't buy the car. Wait a year.

Thanks for all the thoughtful comments. Like I said I'm an owner, I'm long on Tesla stock, and wouldn't give my car up for anything.

It just seemed to me that we might be getting a little carried away sometimes. "My door opened without any human intervention, but that's OK". Really?? Really?? Yes, my list had some things that might be considered frivolous, but there's also some things that you'd kinda expect not to be an issue when you drop $100k on something. QC anyone?

There's no way I'd have the ***** to try and turn an industry upside down the way that TM is doing so kudos to them, but I think we owe it to all the owners that come after us, and to the long term success of the company to hold TM accountable to the very high standards that Elon has publicly set. We'll all be better off for it.

I think the attitude of top management is more important than anything else. I worked at startups before and I know startup products are full of problems. If management established the attitude to build the best cars, they will fix the problems. I am sure TM need to deliver as many cars as possible to keep the company live. Once you order the components, you have to sell the car to pay for the components. TM, keep up the attitude, build the best car and reshape the world. I trust TM is in best position to achieve it.

QC cannot test for and prevent electronic Infant Mortality. That would require 100% "burn-in" of every component of every car. They can test vital systems, and can buy the best h/w, and react promptly when the rare exceptions (infant death) occur. Yes, Really.

my door opened by itself, it was annoying, it never did when I was in Drive, it is Ok because Tesla fixed it.
I have a sig red and happy to get it sooner and love the color. How many people are on this forum? how many post vs look? why are you here? were you ever on a forum of your other cars? not me.
this is a car for the 21st century, and I am lucky to be driving one.

"electronic Infant Mortality" Brian - most of the time I have absolutely no idea what the heck you are posting, or what kind of drugs you are on.

Brian H,

It's not QC job to test for infant mortalilty, that is a design issue. Since you bring it up, you must be aware of the "bath tub" (search for "reliability bathtub"). So the early part of the curve is resolved by part selection - ie: use only parts that have passed that stage of thier lives. Since electronics have a long servicable life (some argue that life is near infinite), this doesn't add to the overall cost of those devices.

If electronic circuits are going to fail, they tend to do so early, or not at all. In the biz, it's called "infant mortality"; it's the reason for doing "burn in". I thought the expression was clear enough not to need explanation. Apparently not.

yes, you're agreeing with me, really. What's your point? The chip mfr. is supposed to test for it, but weak infants do make it through. But higher quality and QC cost more. One hopes TM is buying quality.

brian, your generalizing QC to the electronics and the point was in regard to production/entire vehicle QC

Much of the vehicle is electronic, so QC of the electronic parts, to the point of burn-in, would require each vehicle to be stressed in every electronic circuit for many hours. Impractical.

Upstream testing by suppliers is the way such issues need to be handled. There are different "grades" of chips and boards, etc., of course. You may well get what you pay for.

I have only been on this board for a week but I've already noticed nickjhowe is the biggest whiner here. :-( I feel for his wife/girlfriend if he does have one.

@carlk I have to disagree with you. I've been on this board for 20 months & find nick's posts to be spot-on

I've been called many things, most of them deserved, but not a whiner. Guess you can't please everyone.

Thanks KevinR. Appreciate it.


I agree with KevinR that nickjhowe has made very positive contributions to this Forums with his comments and opinions. It is MS owners like nickijowe who have enlightened other MS owners through this Forums.

I applaud nickjhowe for his post. It's my belief that Elon WANTS critical input. (wonder why negative posts aren't removed?) And I bet he uses input like this to challenge his team to work harder, work smarter. Look, 98% of us in this forum love the car, the company, the founder, the movement, etc. So those that are attacking rational and unbiasec opinions are doing the brand a disservice. Tesla NEEDS HONEST feedback from it's customers. And it needs that feedback to be public so that he can jolt his team into fixing problems quickly.

Those that think a few negative posts will find their way into mass media hysteria are conspiracy theorists. The proof? It would have happened by now. And yet there has been no major story with it's roots in a negative post from this forum.

In fact, if there were a MAJOR problem that was reported here first....well MAJOR problems find their way to the mass media eventually anyway.

JZ --

People that love the car give constructive criticism. They don't come to forums to threaten lemons laws, proclaim the downfall of tesla, post false information, or try to spell check other posters for attention...

If you have an issue with your car, contact Tesla directly. If you feel as an owner that loves his/her MS and the need to share on these forums, do so in a way that gives perspective.

If you hate the car, then disregard and do whatever the hell you want. Some already do and that's fine...

I don't want to play anybody's advocate, but please make a distinction. nickjhowe is an long-time forum member and has contributed greatly. He also created, simplyfying the searches since there is no search engine for the forum. You may be mixing him with another nick...

That's right. The issues listed in op are all known by TM already. It's not that they want these things to happen but it's likely the best they could achieve under the circumstances. Publicly venting one's grip whether it's justified or not is NOT a positive contribution. Nothing can be achieved other than giving the car/car company a bad name. Direct your concerns to the company officials or the board of directors if you really want to help.

And right again, please do this if you don't like the car/car company. I just find it ironic when you started your op by saying you love your car.

Tesla has reinvented the car. If you think of it, there's very little of it that's derivative and therefore battle-tested. Everything is fresh and new. When you have a product that has so many new systems, it's normal to have a large number of glitches. Look at our poor friends, the Fisker owners :(. Compared to them, I think it's reasonable to say that Tesla has had a pretty easy time of it.

There are problems, and Tesla needs to fix them. But frankly, I think it's very impressive that the car has had so few problems.

If I were in the market for a $80k car, which unfortunately I am not, I would be comfortable putting my money into a Model S.


@jk - I only read the OP. I did not take the time to read every post in between the beginning and the end. If he made mentions of the things you reference then I would reconsider my praise of his post. From what I gather nickjhowe has been in this community a LONG time and in good standing. I think tiebreaker may be correct that you are confusing another nick.

I have only had my car for 4 days but I absolutely LOVE it.

Trust me, Elon and the executive committee depend on this public feedback to hold their team accountable and demand that they find resolve on these issues. Putting your head in the sand and sending an email to an executive is not nearly as effective.

I received my car on the 20th of this month, and I was production sequence number 13,269. I picked it up 3 days after my delivery window, which was supposed to end on the 17th, so not bad in terms of delivery based on the original window they gave me.

In terms of the quality of the car itself, I have not had any of the issues reported on the forum, which I have been following for a very long time now.

I also listened recently to the web cast Q&A with analysts for the Q4 earnings. I think the most telling thing that Elon said was about production efficiency and quality at the end of the line. Apparently, in the early production cars, virtually ever car had some problem with it. During December, they reached full production volume, but with averaging 68 work weeks for the assembly plant staff. That will certainly make quality go down.

What he said that was encouraging, is that early in the quarter, January and early February, was that the average work week for full production was now in the 50 hour range, instead of 68, and continues to fall. Also, the percentage of cars with issues at end of the line is now a fraction of what it was. It was unfortunate that he didn't give us a real percentage, but based on my car, which I don't have any issues, it seems like they are on the right track, and it will continue to improve over time.

So the issues have certainly been real, but its starting to already look like things are much improved, and will continue to get better.

@Carl I think it is very logical to love the car and express HONEST criticism at the same time. The two are not contradictory. In fact, by being honest, you are letting the other party know where they need to improve. Sending an email to a few executives is much less powerful. (Executives have been getting correspondence from the public for centuries. Guess who reads those emails the majority of the time? An assistant. Only those emails that stand out get passed along to the executive. We don't want GB or Elon wasting time sifting through the countless minutiae they receive)

Also, sending an email has no opportunity to gather community criticism or support. Posting in this forum allows Tesla to see if their customers consider the issue major or minor.

Don't get your feelings hurt when you see honest criticism from a Tesla customer. It's not personal.

JZ --

Cool. I'm not referring to Nickj specifically. If you feel Tesla actually takes what people say in this forum to improve, then give measured perspective... Offer ways to improve... Give this constructive criticism in a tone that doesn't reek of emotional backlash. Again, this suggestion only applies to owners that love the car and want Tesla to succeed. Otherwise, disregard everything I've said and post away...

jk - I hear ya Tesla brotha!

I can't give Tesla ways to improve because I am not an engineer. I can only report back to them my experience and opinion and it is their job to fix the delivery process, etc. But I see where you are coming from as some are not always so objective.

We all know that in time these issues will sort themselves out. But a little pressure from the customer base is a good thing.

nickjhowe a whiner? News to me.

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