Tesla appeals more to motorists than EV competition but suffers most issues
It's official: you want one, even if you know it won't work.
Two recent surveys by a company in the US seem to confirm what we’ve long thought. Teslas are both fascinating and terrible.
JD Power published the results of the first one in June. This was an Initial Quality Survey (IQS) made to measure customer satisfaction by ranking manufacturers by problems per 100 cars. The industry average was 166, while Tesla owners are reporting more than anyone else at 250. Each brand-new car is having at least two problems with it after not very long.
You’d think that would be that. But no, because the second survey was called 'Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout Study', or 'APEAL'. This was based on a 1,000-point scale, and defines “owners’ emotional attachment and level of excitement with their new vehicle across 37 attributes”. In other words, how much they are willing to ignore the mild fire that has started in the footwell or the electronic boot that has just opened into the garage door.
Among the premium brands was Porsche, and because this is America, Lincoln and Cadillac, BMW, Land Rover, and Genesis, but at the very top by a decent margin, was Tesla at 896.
And all of this was after Tesla had forbidden JD Power from surveying owners in 15 of the US states. The actual figures are surely a lot worse and a lot better respectively.
This means that Porsche technically wins the highest APEAL score and Dodge and Kia have tied for the highest customer satisfaction. Presumably because the owners don’t see anything too out of the ordinary when a piece of trim falls off.
I think it’s easy enough to see how Tesla has managed to woo everyone. They’ve made electric cars cool.
No, it's not the Stig... Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Governments around the First World are putting out the clarion call for us to ditch fossil fuels and embrace clean and renewable energy so that our descendants can continue to frolic in fields of daisies for generations to come.
Car manufacturers dutifully respond by offering us the likes of the Nissan Leaf, Toyota Mirai, Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, or Volkswagen e-Golf. All interesting in a sort of clever, technological way but they’re also boring. Not to mention expensive, and that's before you get to the BMW i3 and Jaguar I-Pace.
If you want all of us to suddenly change the means of propulsion which we have been using for over a century, at least soften the blow.
Teslas are more than just another piece of the puzzle that is some future utopia. They were dreamt up by a man who also smoked a joint during an interview and rocketed a car into space just because.
They're fast. They look very good. They have giant iPad screens inside and a driving mode called ‘Ludicrous’. The Model-X has gullwing doors and the lights can flash in time with your favourite music. We’re told the roadster – when it finally arrives – will have actual thrusters like Thunderbirds 2. And I’m sure we haven’t forgotten about the stainless steel, bullet-proof door-wedge that is the Cybertruck.
The new, now old, Tesla Roadster. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
They are, in fact, like those ads that pop up in my Facebook feed from time to time. It’s for something I’ve never even dreamed of or it’s designed to solve a problem that… yep, nobody has really ever had. But none of that matters because now I’ve seen this foot duster and must buy it.
At least in its home country, a Tesla is also relatively cheap. A base Model 3 can be had for $39,990 USD, or not much more than the $31,600 USD you would spend on a Leaf. For a start-up company with a flimsy grasp of profit, that's impressive.
Until you arrive in Britain, where the difference is a much larger 17,000 pounds. Or Australia, where the Model 3 still gets bludgeoned with a Luxury Car Tax designed to protect the local car industry we don't have. It starts at $73,990 AUD.
The point is, they’ve nearly mastered the electric bit. So it is unfortunate that they haven’t got the hang of the actual vehicle.
Many are the stories and YouTube videos of Teslas crashing into things while in autonomous ‘AutoPilot’ mode, or catching fire, or catching fire and setting whatever happens to be parked next to them on fire, or automatically shutting their doors on people’s limbs. Sometimes, they’ve even proven themselves lethal. I could go on.
But I still want to drive one, and I’m sure you do too. I think that says it all.