Tesla Motors and reliability problems: Do they even matter?

The company’s unconventional approach to customer service has helped mollify consumers who are unhappy about issues with early models.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: fortune.com

The company’s unconventional approach to customer service has helped mollify consumers who are unhappy about issues with early models.  It was easy enough to predict the immediate aftermath of Consumer Reports pulling its recommended buy rating from the Tesla Model S earlier this week. Shares dropped 6.6% to close at $213.03 on Tuesday amid four times greater trade volume than usual and then slid even further Wednesday to close at $210.09, as analysts weighed in with mixed reactions.  And then CEO Elon Musk—and other Tesla fans—took to Twitter to defend the Model S saying, “Consumer Reports’reliability survey includes a lot of early production cars. Already addressed in new cars.”  What isn’t so clear is if the downgraded status will turn off potential buyers and depress future sales of the all-electric sedan or the new Model X SUV from Tesla  . The company’s earliest customers—a fan base that is perhaps among the most fervent in the auto industry—certainly aren’t going anywhere. Some 97% of owners in the CR survey said they would buy a Model S again, despite issues with the car.  Even Consumer Reports stands by its earlier assessment that the Model S is one of the best-performing vehicles it has ever tested. The publication only pulled its “recommended” rating after 1,400 owners who responded to its annual reliability survey said the Model S suffered from a variety of issues, from leaky sunroofs and general rattling to problems with the drive train, center touchscreen console, and power equipment. The publication forecast that owning a Tesla is likely to involve a worse-than-average overall problem rate, a step down from last year’s “average” prediction.  “This really wasn’t too surprising to me,” Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing at Edmunds.com. The company purchased a 2012 Model S P85 and drove it more than 30,000 miles over 16 months back in 2013. “The car isn’t perfect and we did have problems,” says Edmunds, who listed the electric battery and motor as parts that needed to be replaced when they tested the car. “But it also does a few important things very well—like performance and safety—and its approach to customer service is unmatched and totally different from other manufacturers. So yes, I’d buy the car, even knowing what I know about it.”

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