Tesla shares dive after Consumer Reports yanks recommendation for Model S

20 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Boston is getting its first Tesla store.

As automakers race to meet tougher government fuel-economy standards that take effect in the next decade, they are finding trouble with some of the hardware that will get them there, according to a Consumer Reports’ survey. DETROIT: Owners of vehicles with advanced fuel-saving technology and digital multimedia systems, including the Tesla Model S sedan, are hurting reliability, Consumer Reports magazine found in its annual survey of vehicle reliability.Tesla Motors plans to open a new store at the Shops at the Prudential Center, the company’s first store in the city and its third retail center in Massachusetts. There is “an emerging trend of increased troubles” with many vehicles that use new transmission technology to boost mileage, the magazine said Tuesday. Consumer Reports surveyed 1,400 Model S owners “who chronicled an array of detailed and complicated maladies” with the drivetrain, power equipment, charging equipment and giant iPad-like center console.

They also complained about body and sunroof squeaks, rattles and leaks. “As the older vehicles are getting up on miles we are seeing some where the electric motor needs to be replaced and the onboard charging system won’t charge the battery,” said Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports’ director of automotive testing. “On the newer vehicles we are seeing problems such as the sunroof not operating properly. Instead, its business model is focused on selling advanced electric car technology directly to consumers similar to how big stores like Best Buy and the Apple Store sell computers and smartphones.

Door handles continue to be an issue.” Fisher said the flaws could signal future problems for the brand, which plans to roughly double production next year. It has just begun deliveries of a second vehicle, the Model X electric crossover, and intends to introduce the Model 3, a smaller, less expensive electric car, in 2017. Complaints about balky multimedia “infotainment” systems continue to plague several major automakers, including Ford Motor Co, Nissan Motor Co, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, and several prominent brands including General Motors Co’s Cadillac luxury line, the magazine found. While wealthy Tesla owners are likely to have other cars, making problems less of a hassle, if Tesla reaches its 2020 goal of selling several hundred thousand Model 3s annually, buyers might not be as forgiving, Fisher said.

According to Tesla, the feature (available in the Model S) combines input from the car’s “camera, radar, ultrasonics, and GPS” to deliver the first autonomous driving system. Tesla also reports the Autopilot features collects data from these systems so that the technology “is continually learning and improving upon itself.” Among 28 brands in the survey, seven were rated as “most reliable,” eight as “reliable” and 13 as “least reliable.” In recent years, infotainment systems that control features such as music and navigation systems have caused the most problems, as consumers found the controls and software behind the systems to be unreliable, Fisher said. Acura owners reported problems with the infotainment features in its RLX and TLX sedans, as well as with the company’s 8- and 9-speed transmissions. Nissan Motor Co.’s main brand also had reliability complaints on some of its transmission technologies, while still finishing 15th, within the “reliable” category.

The rankings of the other brands with better-than-average reliability are second-place Toyota followed by Audi, Mazda, Subaru, Kia and Buick. “We’ve seen a number of brands struggle with new transmission technology,” Fisher said, including systems such as a dual-clutch gearbox, a continuously variable transmission and transmissions with eight or nine speeds. Fiat-Chrysler products were the worst, taking five of the seven bottom spots. “We’re significantly accelerating our pace of improvement for our entire product lineup,” said Matt Liddane, vice president of quality, FCA North America. “We compete with many other global players in an industry that’s always evolving and is certainly not standing still; so, we need to continue to push harder.” The publication didn’t rate the Tesla brand because that required enough responses for at least two models, and because the Model S rated below average, the highly rated electric car is no longer on the magazine’s recommended list.

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