Analysis

Deliver Now, Fix Later: Tesla’s Competitive Edge Is Also Its Major Weakness

At least if things are still like they were when a former Tesla VP for quality was there.

We never get tired of repeating what engineers tell us all the time: buying the first batch of any product is risky. All initial production issues will present themselves to early adopters. When it comes to Tesla, that may not be true. If what Philippe Chain – VP for quality at Tesla when the Model S was released – wrote is still valid, changes may happen all the time. Sadly, they do not necessarily imply improvements.

According to what Chain wrote to MondayNote.com, Tesla is obsessed with speed. A dialogue Chain had with Elon Musk back in the day is representative of that.

Tesla’s CEO was discussing long-term durability tests for the Model S with the VP for quality and said he would not postpone the car presentation because of them. Chain says:

“— But we might encounter issues that will require some modifications of the production models…

— Yeah, I know, but we will make the changes afterward if we have to…

— Even if it involves recalling some cars?

— Yes. And for the rest, we will adjust by pushing some OTA upgrades.”

When you put those words in light of all Tesla issues we have already spoken about, it is clear Tesla’s competitive edge is also its major weakness. Chain mentions he had a hard time with the Model S’s “body geometry.” He says that led to delivering “cars afflicted with wider than usual gaps,” which had to be manually adjusted “with mallet and foam.” That could help explain the pressure buffeting issue.

According to Chain, “what would have been deemed as unacceptable by any carmakers was seen as part of an ongoing process by Elon Musk.”

Tesla’s vehicles are famous for not presenting model-years. They are continuously modified not only with OTA updates but also mechanically and body-wise. The Tesla Model Y currently uses two massive rear castings, one for each side of the car. It will soon have a single one, and there are rumors the Model 3 will also have it.

More recently, Elon Musk said the Model Y made in Berlin would be a revolution in automotive body engineering.

What about the Model Y made in Fremont? Or the one slated for Giga Shanghai? That shows the standard industrial process of improving the product as manufacturing gets more mature may not apply to Tesla. The cars go through so many unexpected changes that production may never evolve the same way it does with conventional vehicles.

More importantly, what we need to know is how “ongoing” this process is and what Tesla’s CEO meant by “if we have to.” Will the company voluntarily replace defective parts on the cars, such as the MCUv1 or the rear bumpers on the Model 3? Or will it “have to” do that with NHTSA and court decisions for owners willing to ask authorities for help?

It is great that Tesla has a fast decision-making process, especially compared to that other companies have. We have recently given an example of how that works at Volkswagen. Independently of how bureaucratic things can be, some are probably “unacceptable by any carmakers” because they imply product issues, customer disappointment, brand image damage, and legal liabilities.

By doing what other manufacturers deem as unacceptable, Tesla is now facing Model Y quality issues, Model Y paint problems, Model 3 paint matters, and Model S and Model X battery pack concerns, to name a few.

That strategy may have enabled Tesla to survive its first years, but will it keep it going? Some practices exist for a reason. We hope Tesla figures that out before brand image damage, and legal liabilities kick in. Unfortunately, product issues and customer disappointment are already there.

Source: MondayNote.com via Electrek

This article originally appeared on Inside EVs.

kudlacz

Member
Jul 29, 2016
10
5
Miramar, FL
Is it just me, or is VW trying the same thing with the ID3 launch?
Well the build cars before they got the software working, but they did not sell those cars, so no. Now that software is ready ID3 deliveries are going to start in Sep. There are 250 ID3 out there being 'tested' by VW employees who opted to get the car early in order to provide VW with feedback.
 

AmpedRealtor

Well-Known Member
Jun 30, 2013
6,396
3,366
Phoenix, AZ
Yet more proof that Musk is nothing more than a con man who sees his customers as a means to an end. He doesn't care one wit about delivering a quality product. He just wants your money and will say anything to get it. While I enjoy seeing my TSLA shares rise to over 400% return—which have gained enough to pay for a Porsche Taycan—I will never buy another Tesla car knowing how Musk runs the company and how he builds cars.

I'm perfectly happy to see an entirely new generation of Tesla vehicle owners grapple with the reality many of us have accepted over the last 7-8 years. They think life is great and their cars are wonderful. Just wait for it. In the meantime, I'll continue collecting gains on my shares as fools continue to buy.

The next time I make such an investment, it will be with a company that actually cares about quality and makes a properly engineered and tested product. Tesla is a joke led by a clown.
 

EVDRVN

Active Member
May 12, 2018
1,460
1,872
North Bay Area
You would think Tesla would have a PDI checklist when arriving at delivery centers. I mean half this stuff could be taken care of prior to delivery.

You would think but Elon could care less about anything but pumping out cars. Even if there is a list it is clearly ignored.
 

InternetDude

Member
Nov 5, 2014
839
572
Yes
Yet more proof that Musk is nothing more than a con man who sees his customers as a means to an end. He doesn't care one wit about delivering a quality product. He just wants your money and will say anything to get it. While I enjoy seeing my TSLA shares rise to over 400% return—which have gained enough to pay for a Porsche Taycan—I will never buy another Tesla car knowing how Musk runs the company and how he builds cars.

I'm perfectly happy to see an entirely new generation of Tesla vehicle owners grapple with the reality many of us have accepted over the last 7-8 years. They think life is great and their cars are wonderful. Just wait for it. In the meantime, I'll continue collecting gains on my shares as fools continue to buy.

The next time I make such an investment, it will be with a company that actually cares about quality and makes a properly engineered and tested product. Tesla is a joke led by a clown.
Well said! Ditto except I cashed out between $400-$900 because it was too risky for me.
 

Mod3Update

Member
Mar 4, 2020
51
4
93065
picked up My Model Y on July 17, 2020 and right away noticed the body panel misaligned, call the Marina Del Rey Delivery center and informed them. I got a an answer from the personal please take pics and update the service app.
No sorry for the inconvenience, no apology, I mean you spend 60K + and they just point you to the app.
I have until Friday to return the vehicle. I am really going to think hard and decide if I want my money back or should I have them fix the issues.
Elon Musk should be talking more about what he is doing on Planet Earth than planning to send people in outer space.
Maybe folks are right, this will be another Dolorean Auto Maker that had the vision but could not deliver a good product.
Sorry Elon I wish you could answer this face to face but i know you don't have the guts to face the people.
 

BM3LRPUP19

Member
Jun 29, 2018
38
23
San Francisco
Picked up my MY at the beginning of COVID19 shelter in place - so nerve racking pick up process and other administrative issues, but everyone trying their best - except for the quality issues. Even in the dim light of the service center - numerous issues that QC at Fremont and at SC prep should have caught. In retrospect I wish I had refused delivery and waited until another batch came out. But I needed transportation with more room than my current M3 as spouse has bad back and taking care of elderly parent was - couldn't delay. I was promised it would be fixed. Photographed the issues and returned the car a few weeks later for repairs.
  • Drivers window ajar - enough to to smack the glass pillar
  • Rear tire well trim misaligned - was told this was in factory specs, months later - the saw a MY on the showroom gaps/trim were perfect.
  • Lift gate still wobbles and misaligned
  • Hood - Frunk lid - appears warped and misaligned
  • Passenger side front pillar misaligned - saw on several Y's this batch
  • Greasy had prints and the car was generally not clean - like a dirty rag used to clean window.
  • Scratched interior plastic in the cargo /back seat area
  • Bought the garage door opener - extra charge now - $300 - annoyance
  • I blue taped every issue, put it all in the app with photos.
Brought my car window fix, but the driver's door is misaligned, the hood lid is way way worse raised catching air and making noise, no replacement parts available for scratched plastic. lift gate better but still wobbles and now seems less aligned at the top with glass, garage door opener installed and works as it should. The car was brought to me and with covid, understaffed, they disappear to the next customer no opportunity for feedback and the 3 day survey - is never sent.

Needed a tow-hitch for bike rack $1200 -not offered at order and now the MY drops in $3000 in price ugh! - Ok will try a different store for the repair. stated all the issues photographs in the app and make appointment. Bring in the car they can only see the tow hitch in the system - I tell them about the issues - they can find the notes but no photographs, not to worry - we will fix these issues. Come back the next day to pick up - nope just the toe hitch installed and staff that told me not to worry isn't in that day - drop off staff says nothing is on the order.

$66,500. Really disappointed in the deliver now fix later approach, especially during a pandemic where every visit is potential exposure for customer and Tesla employees and the inconvenience and to fix issues that should be caught before delivery, at least by the first visit and still un resolved at the 3?? WTF.