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Tesla wasn’t happy about Consumer Reports Model 3 Predicted Reliability – It Responded “in kind”

Reality show or real problems taken public?

Tesla and Consumer Reports publication seem to be in a feud.

Long story short:

  • Consumer Reports reported that the Tesla Model 3 got “Average” reliability score,
  • Tesla responded by saying that the report is basically “*hit” because they hadn’t even driven the car nor do they know anything about the engineering or the production process.
  • And then, Consumer Reports responded again to prove that they have a longer… umm sorry, that they are “more right” than Tesla.

Tesla Model 3

Now, you may think whatever you want about the Consumer Reports and Tesla, but this seems very much like a feud between two kids arguing why did the chicken cross the road?

If you are still interested in knowing how Consumer Reports actually rated the Tesla Model 3 if they never drove the car, know that as a part of the Annual Reliability Survey, Consumer Reports PREDICTS reliability for the models they have yet to test or even see.

If you are new to this your thinking maybe along the lines of WTF?

Well, this has been common practice for a few years now. In Consumer Reports press release, the company noted:
“Consumer Reports (CR) predicts the new Tesla Model 3 will have an “Average” reliability score, based on improved reliability data reported by Model S owners.”

Tesla Model 3

They then continue with:

“CR’s predicted reliability for the Model S was rated “Above Average” by owners for the first time, and because the Model 3 shares much of its technology with the Model S, that improved reliability helps CR make that prediction for the Model 3. Consumer Reports doesn’t have data yet specifically from Model 3 owners. However, the world’s largest and most trusted consumer nonprofit makes predictions on every new and redesigned model based on the manufacturer’s history and data from vehicles that share major components.“

Back at Tesla – furious. They slammed Consumer Reports PR by releasing a response.

It goes like this:

“Ever since Consumer Reports declared Model S to be the best car ever and then revoked the rating after being questioned by Tesla skeptics, they have lowered the integrity of their automotive reporting by singling out Tesla to a degree that is absurd, unnecessary, and misleading, implying for example that our cars are unsafe, underperforming and unreliable based on tests and surveys that lack basic scientific integrity.”

Tesla continues in the same breath:

“Regarding its predicted reliability rating for Model 3, it’s important to note that Consumer Reports has not yet driven a Model 3, let alone do they know anything substantial about how the Model 3 was designed and engineered. Time and time again, our own data shows that Consumer Reports’ automotive reporting is consistently inaccurate and misleading to consumers. We have urged them multiple times to correct this, and they’ve refused. We believe this refusal is rooted in the fact that their coverage of Tesla generates significant attention for the publication.”

Tesla Model 3

Obviously, Tesla isn’t thrilled about the Consumer Reports, but the publication had to respond again, now giving us a bit more details about the whole rating process.

CR noted:

“First, Tesla appears unhappy that CR expects the new-to-market Tesla Model 3 to be of average reliability, which is generally a positive projection for any first model year of a car. This expectation is based on CR’s 2017 Annual Reliability Survey, measuring the dependability as opposed to the satisfaction, of more than 300 car models, the model year 2000 to 2017, using the responses of individual owners of more than 640,000 vehicles. We provide this information to help people make informed purchasing decisions as new products reach the market.

CR conducts a battery of 50 standardized tests across all the vehicles we review – we have a lot of mileage in this arena. We also continuously update our ratings as new surveys are conducted and we test the cars we purchase to reflect the current realities of what a consumer should expect in the marketplace. (That’s right, purchase. CR does not accept any advertising and purchases the products we rate like any other regular person.) The Model S rating has changed over time, going up and down, as new data becomes available.”

Now, I guess, we await Tesla’s response.

If you are still not convinced or clear about all of this, read the latest Consumer Reports report. It is quite a long one but here it is for your pleasure:

Late yesterday, Tesla shared with select journalists what appears to have been a prepared statement of supercharged and unsupported claims about the performance and safety of their own vehicles and our 2017 Annual Reliability Survey results, taking the occasion to air a number of grievances against Consumer Reports (CR) and our overall reporting on Tesla and its products.

As is often the result of any new product or company that electrifies the market, Tesla does garner an outsized level of attention, scrutiny and discussion by the media. While we appreciate Tesla’s efforts to typically embrace and navigate, if not directly steer, this attention, we would like to offer some clarity on the examples they cite. (For other, perhaps not surprisingly Tesla-positive, examples from CR, you can visit the articles currently available at the Tesla press site, at least until they pull those links down, or visit us at CR.org).

Tesla seems to misunderstand or is conflating some of what we fundamentally do — our Annual Reliability Survey report and the related predictions versus our car reviews and tests.

First, Tesla appears unhappy that CR expects the new-to-market Tesla Model 3 to be of average reliability, which is generally a positive projection for any first model year of a car. This expectation is based on CR’s 2017 Annual Reliability Survey, measuring the dependability as opposed to the satisfaction, of more than 300 car models, model year 2000 to 2017, using the responses of individual owners of more than 640,000 vehicles. We provide this information to help people make informed purchasing decisions as new products reach the market.

Here’s how we make the prediction: CR uses survey data it receives from car owners to predict the expected reliability of new cars being introduced to the market by looking across a manufacturer’s historic results (akin to how a weather forecaster predicts it will be sunny) — separate from the hands-on road tests we use for our overall score.

For the Model 3, we looked at more than 2,000 consumer survey responses about Tesla models. In fact, the Tesla Model S is now reported as having above average reliability for the first time ever. The Tesla Model S is also currently CR’s top-rated car, period. (Kudos on both, Tesla!)

Second, Tesla has taken larger issue with how CR produces car ratings, citing specific examples where they think our testing methods fell short or were unfair. CR conducts a battery of 50 standardized tests across all the vehicles we review — we have a lot of mileage in this arena. We also continuously update our ratings as new surveys are conducted and we test the cars we purchase to reflect the current realities of what a consumer should expect in the marketplace. (That’s right, purchase. CR does not accept any advertising and purchases the products we rate like any other regular person.) The Model S rating has changed over time, going up and down, as new data becomes available.

Thanks to technological advances such as product changes delivered by an over-the-air software update and thereby adding or subtracting features, we reevaluate products to inform consumers about what to expect after any update. These changes are then reflected in our ratings. Tesla frequently updates its software in just this way, which is relatively unique in the automotive market, often resulting in material changes to its products and therefore our ratings — both positively and negatively. It also happens to drive more frequent press coverage given the need to communicate product changes to consumers.

While our reliability survey data feeds into the overall score we give any product, that is just one input. As with all the cars we review, you can rest assured that we will thoroughly test and evaluate the Model 3 with the same care and scrutiny we apply to all the cars we test just as soon as we can get one — we’re waiting patiently along with other consumers.

As an independent, nonprofit organization that works side-by-side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world, CR provides trusted knowledge people depend on to make better, more informed choices. We conduct evidence-based product testing and ratings, rigorous research, hard-hitting investigative journalism, public education, and steadfast advocacy on behalf of consumers’ interests. Buying a car that has an average or above average score for predicted reliability will likely reduce the chances of having problems with the car.

We at CR are confident in our data, methods, and reporting — and the historic results we’ve achieved in improving consumer products, services, and the marketplace. We will continue to report on and test Tesla’s products in the same fair-minded, consumer-focused way we do with all manufacturers, to help shape products to best serve the needs of consumers.

Categories: Automotive News

Safet Satara
About Safet Satara

I do not have spare time. All there is is car time. 12 years and counting. I am a Central European gearhead, but you are probably thinking – aaa a disposable Borg drone! Well, actually, I like to dress up like James Bond too. The only thing I need to be him is an Aston Martin (and I love DBS more than DB5 because, reasons). That’s something I guess.