The Tesla quality problem

posted by Jeff | Thursday, April 11, 2024, 7:50 PM | comments: 0

One of the things I immediately noticed about the new Model Y that Diana is driving (replacing the totaled car) is that the quality of it is generally pretty good. I mean, you'd expect that for any car, but Tesla's quality "journey" hasn't been great. I'm comparing the new car mostly to the other three-year-old Y we have, which is not on the same level.

It's weird, because the first one, the Model S in 2015, was perfect as far as I could tell. When we replaced it with the Model 3, they had been making them for a bit, so it wasn't early in the run, but still fairly new. The only thing that I could really find wrong with it was that the trunk wasn't aligned well, but that was pretty easy to adjust. It had no rattles or squeaks. But the issues with the Model Y are pretty well documented, and they were a problem for quite awhile. When we replaced the totaled Nissan Leaf, I remember a rattle driving the 2021 Model Y home the first day. It tormented me. I'm pretty sure I actually fixed that (it was the seatbelt attachment in the passenger B pillar), but it has since developed other noises, and it's infuriating. The body panel alignment isn't great, and I had them fix the most egregious one, the front quarter where you could see the lines in the crease not line up to the door. The car is so fun to drive, but the noises grate on me. It's why I drive with open windows as much as possible, and/or loud music.

To their credit, the new car seems OK. It does sound like a stray label or something is flapping around sometimes when the AC spins up, but we can probably get that resolved if we can capture it happening. Otherwise, no rattles, no squeaks, the panels seem well aligned, doors and trunk all close smoothly, it's all just as expected. And actually it's better, because they iterate constantly, not just on model year. Diana's car has a better center console, a privacy cover in the trunk, more double-pane windows and noise isolation, better interior materials (and no piano-black), and it even has the bio-weapon defense mode air filter. Cost less, too! Overall, I'd say this car is the least remarkable one we've bought since going electric. There's nothing particularly novel about it and is simply as expected.

For now, Tesla still has some competitive advantages (if you keep in mind that 140,000 other people work at Tesla other than its off-the-rails CEO), but I'm not sure if that lasts. The supercharger network is opening to all cars. And the phone/keycard thing to get in and drive, and no "power' button, it's hard to think of a different way to go. The standard dash cams have helped document the previous accident, and we've submitted footage to law enforcement for other accidents we've witnessed.

But the Hyundai group is making some pretty great, affordable EV's now, and unlike others, they're profitable. All of the German makers are doing great stuff as well. So I can't say what our next car will be, and frankly if we can avoid any new cars for another five or six years, that would be ideal. The others are adopting Tesla's charging standard, so now it's a matter of them picking up the other things that we've gotten used to. Midlife crisis me is really liking the Porsche Macan EV, as well as their too-expensive Taycan.


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