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Reuters: 90% Tesla defects

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Well-Known Member
Nov 25, 2012
Reuters published the report today which might have negatively affect TSLA stock price:

Build fast, fix later: speed hurts quality at Tesla, some workers say

"Quality checks have routinely revealed defects in more than 90 percent of Model S and Model X vehicles inspected after assembly"

The source came from fired employees who remain anonymous due to Tesla non-disclosure agreements.

Tesla denied the figure and stated:

"...we care about even a fraction of a millimeter body gap difference or a slight paint gloss texture..."

Hmmmm. Let's see:

A millimeter is the size of an eye of a regular sewing needle:


But we are talking about Tesla millimeter that fits a finger as pointed out by forumer @rolling18?


Who should we believe?

Bias report from Edmunds?

Slightly mis-aligned chrome trim:


Uneven gap:


Uneven hatch closure:


And @Iflyplanes:

Huge door gap:


Uneven door closure:


Mis-aligned black window edges between front and back doors:


If Tesla wants to argue against those fired employees, it should make public of its Quality Assurance tracking system log because the pictures are embarrassing.
Slightly mis-aligned chrome trim:

90% seems high, however I would not be surprised if this was accurate. Tesla is known for its somewhat sloppy fit and finish. I am drawn to the chrome trim on other Teslas when I see them since mine also suffered from this very common issue.

Just yesterday, I saw a newer 100D parked at a detailing shop for tint or a wrap, and sure enough, the passenger side had trim that was misaligned. I also saw one with this issue months ago while supercharging. Maybe I shouldn't have pointed that out to the owner since they had never noticed.

Attention to paint defects and panel gaps? Yeah right.

I wouldn't complain about any of those issues if I received a car like those in the pictures.

If it doesn't bother you, that's great. However they are still issues (that bother most IMO) that should be addressed before the car leaves the factory.
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Those pictures look a lot like the 2012 Mercedes SUV (Alabama built) I bought new. Many, many defects. The initial build quality on our May 2017 delivery Tesla Model S, on the other hand, has been quite good. Not that MB is much of a quality benchmark anymore...
+ Expect selection bias in any discussion about fit and finish.
+ The interview seems to be with people who were fired. News flash: people who were fired have bad things to say about the company that fired them!
- Despite the selection bias, I do think that Tesla's fit and finish QA needs work, especially for its higher end vehicles, where customers are more discerning.
+ Despite that, I generally don't give a rat's arse about fit and finish personally, so long as it doesn't affect drag. :) My current cars are in such bad shape that it'd be hard to even apply a measure of "fit and finish" to them ;)
I think it’s no secret that Tesla assembly quality and precision has been less than ideal, particularly in the early years and more skewed towards the complex Model X.

Anyone who’s ever spent time in an auto assembly plant is familiar with the “rework” area and while I’m certain that Tesla’s area gets more activity than the average assembly plant, this is not at all unique to this company.

Remember when Ford was airlifting dash skins from Germany for the Focus plant in the states because they were all goofed up? When Nissan shipped thousands of units with missing structural welds? When BMW shipped cars with the wrong color seats in one position? When FCA was reversing trainloads of minivans back to Canada due to a critical flaw in the powertrain? When Toyota shipped trucks with defective camshafts that snapped? No? This stuff is relatively commonplace in the industry if you’ve ever spent time around big manufacturers. Tesla is just small enough that it doesn’t get lost in the noise.

I’m sure Tesla still has much to learn about improving their processes but where the rubber meets the road their measurable defect metrics from the likes of Consumer Reports have been improving relatively rapidly and their warranty costs per unit are supposedly dropping in lockstep. As long as the car doesn’t reach the customer with the defect it matters little how it was resolved provided the company improves their processes as they discover the issues.
Back in June 2016 Tesla communicated their % of cars not requiring rework after manufacturing was greater than 90%, combined for S and X, with S being better. So unless things have reversed, I see this story as very unlikely to be correct. Or they are talking about something else, or have changed their levels of tolerance about what requires rework. Seems strange they would go from 90% not requiring rework to only 10%. They haven't really changed their production rate since then, so I'd expect the number to improve instead of get so much worse.
I'd be happy to put my new 100D up for comparison with any German auto... I put myself through undergrad and grad school doing body work, and I have yet to find any mis-aligned panels or trim. And all the cars I saw when I took delivery in October were blemish free.
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My brother worked in auto repair, and one day was showing me how pretty much all those above shown "mis-alignments" are easily fixable. The chrome strip by the window simply pushes up or down by hand. Door, trunk, hood alignments are all adjustable by turning rubber bumpers. Doors align with a few screws at the hinge or latch..

Of course, the average person would either accept them or complain, but it simply takes a turn of a wrench or the pull of a hand to fix most of it. Take it down to your body shop and see what they can do before spending time leaving it at Tesla for a few days.

Yes, they should have done it at the factory. Yes, Toyota delivers without such errors (really??), but Toyota doesn't make Teslas. And I agree. My Tesla had none of these problems.