Tesla is currently at the top of the EV market. Unlike any other, its vehicles provide an experience, performance is excellent for their price, and the tech is top-notch. However, as the company pursues its goal of delivering 500,000 vehicles this year, something is becoming clear: Tesla needs to stress its quality control aggressively, especially with regard to the Model Y.
Just recently, on the r/TeslaMotors subreddit, EV enthusiast u/Indescribables posted a confirmed anecdote claiming that their latest all-electric crossover lost its glass roof while driving on the 238 highway in California. According to the owner, he and his dad began to hear some wind noise inside the cabin while they were driving. Initially, they thought a window was open, but before they could check, the entire glass roof of the Model Y was blown off.
The pair drove back to the Tesla delivery center after overcoming the initial shock of the incident. The manager at the Tesla site reportedly noted after inspection that the incident was caused either by a defective seal on the glass roof, or by someone from the factory who failed to seal the roof. A loaner as well as the option to fix or replace the Model Y were then given to the new Tesla owners. The pair rejected a fix, instead preferring to replace the car.
Granted, such an account is purely anecdotal, but a significant point of change for Tesla is highlighted. After all, the electric car manufacturer must make it a point to ensure that its quality control must match their pace of innovation. This means that any new Tesla owner gets to undergo the same form of experience that has driven the company and its CEO, Elon Musk, to have such a strong and committed following. This becomes complicated if any cars end up leaving the factory without being adequately tested for possible issues.
With this latest Model Y mishap, this is particularly noteworthy, as Elon Musk himself has shown in the past that he is not happy with Tesla producing cars with subpar construction efficiency. Reports were abounding during the middle of Model 3 “production hell” in 2018 that certain vehicles delivered to customers were not up to par in quality compared to previous cars like the Model S. Musk then sent a letter to Tesla employees asking for vast changes in build quality. Musk’s meaning was evident.
“We will keep going until the Model 3 build precision is a factor of ten better than any other car in the world. I am not kidding… Our car needs to be designed and built with such accuracy and precision that, if an owner measures dimensions, panel gaps, and flushness, and their measurements don’t match the Model 3 specs, it just means that their measuring tape is wrong,” Musk wrote.
The enhancements in the Model 3’s build quality did not happen overnight, but once the company was able to improve, even legacy auto veterans could not deny that the all-electric sedan was being built with world-class standards. When he found a Model 3 in the wild, longtime GM executive Bob Lutz nearly threw in the towel, who is usually critical of Tesla. His findings are better illustrated by the following extract from a post Lutz shared on Road and Track.
When I spied a metallic-red Model 3 in an Ann Arbor parking lot, I felt compelled to check it out. I was eager to see the oft-reported sloppy assembly work, the poor-fitting doors, blotchy paint, and other manifestations of Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s ‘production hell’ with my own eyes.
But, when next to the car, I was stunned. Not only was the paint without any discernible flaw, but the various panels formed a body of precision that was beyond reproach. Gaps from hood to fenders, doors to frame, and all the others appeared to be perfectly even, equal side-to-side, and completely parallel. Gaps of 3.5 to 4.5mm are considered word-class. This Model 3 measured up.
What is very interesting is that Tesla enjoys widespread support from its customer base, particularly the Model 3. An extensive Bloomberg study surveyed 5,000 Model 3 owners found that despite the occasional cosmetic issue, buyers of the all-electric sedan were extremely satisfied with their vehicles. Nearly 99% of Model 3 owners said they would recommend the vehicle to friends and family. These are impressive numbers, and the revolution that Tesla is really bringing to the automotive industry speaks volumes.
The company will always strive to do better. One way to do this is to implement a more proactive quality control system.
Tesla has evolved at an unparalleled rate, transforming in just a few years from a producer of luxury cars, such as the Model S and Model X, to a mass-market automaker that manufactures the Model 3 and Model Y. Challenges came with this transition, as demonstrated in “production hell” faced by Tesla during the initial Model 3 ramp. Since then, the company has solved its quality problems with the Model 3, but the same trend seems to happen somewhat with the ramp of the Model Y. That’s got to change.
In view of the company’s objectives, Tesla must clearly not make mistakes such as the release of a vehicle without proper glass roof sealant to delivery centers from its 1-million-vehicle-per-year goal and, more importantly, its mission. At this point, these errors must be beneath Tesla’s Fremont factory, especially because cars from the Chinese factory of the company, Giga Shanghai, have been highly praised for their build quality, according to data from Chinese quality complaint company CheZhiWang.
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