Model X ‘Malfunctions’ Are Hurting Tesla’s Reliability Score

Posted on Oct 27 2016 - 5:45am by Lisa Chan

Tesla was featured for the first time in Consumer Reports’ annual survey of vehicle reliability, but not in a good way. The upstart electric car company was ranked near the bottom, 25 out of 29, with the publication knocking the Model X SUV for “abundant problems, including frequent malfunctions of the falcon-wing doors, water leaks, and infotainment and climate-control system problems.”

Tesla Model X

The below-average ranking was a shift for Consumer Reports, which previously broke its own rating system because it loved the Model S so much. But that love affair started going south almost immediately, when it surveyed about 1,400 Tesla owners and used that data to project a “worse-than-average overall problem rate” for new buyers over the lifespan of the vehicle. As a result, it pulled its coveted “recommended” rating for the Model S.

With the release of the Model X, Tesla now has the two vehicle models “with sufficient data” required to be included in Consumer Reports brand-reliability rankings. The scores are based on an annual survey of the magazine’s subscribers. Tesla’s overall score was saved by the improving reliability of the Model S, which gained ground this year.

Jake Fisher, director of automotive testing for Consumer Reports, told The Washington Post that Tesla’s poor showing in the survey was the result of “so many overly complicated features: the front doors are power automated, the middle-row seats are on power sliders… All those things add up in a way that can bring the platform down.”

Tesla responded that many of the problems cited by Consumer Reports’ subscribers have been addressed since the survey was conducted last spring. Indeed, the Model X’s falcon-wing doors now open and close at a faster rate thanks to a recent software update.