Consumer Reports: Tesla Model S has 'more than its share of problems'

DETROIT Mon Aug 11, 2014 6:51pm EDT

A Tesla Motors logo is shown at a Tesla Motors dealership at Corte Madera Village, an outdoor retail mall, in Corte Madera, California May 8, 2014.    REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

A Tesla Motors logo is shown at a Tesla Motors dealership at Corte Madera Village, an outdoor retail mall, in Corte Madera, California May 8, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Robert Galbraith

DETROIT (Reuters) - Consumer Reports, which last year gave top marks to electric carmaker Tesla Motors Inc's (TSLA.O) Model S sedan, now says the car it owns has had "more than its share of problems."

While the car has impressed staff at the influential U.S. consumer magazine with its "smoothness, effortless glide and clever, elegant simplicity," there have been many quirks that might dampen consumers' experiences, Consumer Reports said in a statement on Monday.

Consumer Reports, which anonymously buys the vehicles it tests from auto dealerships, said the Model S it owns now has traveled nearly 16,000 miles. Its 2013 Model S was purchased for $89,650 in January of that year.

"Just before the car went in for its annual service, at a little over 12,000 miles, the center screen went blank, eliminating access to just about every function of the car," the magazine said in its statement.

Tesla fixed the issues on the magazine's Model S under warranty. These included a "hard reset" to restore the car's functions after its center screen went blank and problems with the automatic retracting door handles, which were occasionally reluctant to emerge.

Last November, Consumer Reports ranked the Model S best among all cars on the market in its annual survey of vehicles on U.S. roads. And in May 2013, the magazine awarded the Tesla sedan 99 out of a possible 100, one of the best ratings it has ever given an automobile.

The base version of the Model S starts at around $70,000.

Tesla said in statement that it considers service a top priority.

"We err on the side of being proactive to ensure the best driving experience possible," it said. "That means we are particularly attentive in addressing potential issues, even if those issues appear to be very minor or have a low likelihood of causing any future problems.

"We take these actions with the customer’s convenience and satisfaction top of mind and strive to go above and beyond the expected level of service.

"In addition, we are constantly upgrading the functionality, features and quality of every Model S through the free over the air updates we provide to every owner," it said.

Tesla has been one of the hottest U.S. stocks this year, more than doubling its value. It closed on Monday at $259.32 per share, up 4.5 percent.

Tesla's only production model is the Model S, but next spring it plans to introduce a crossover electric car, the Model X.

(Reporting by Bernie Woodall. Editing by Andre Grenon)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (9)
AlkalineState wrote:
This illustrates why reviews on brand new cars are useless. Pretty much all brand new cars are great. But give me the 2 – 3 year review any day. I want to know what fails and falls apart RIGHT AFTER warranty coverage is gone and I’m still making payments. those are the reviews that matter.

Aug 12, 2014 11:35am EDT  --  Report as abuse
ppellico wrote:
See…this is the whole thing with Consumers Reports. They initially give high grades to a product, then people buy them…and next time around the products get low grades and people are disappointed.
I got mislead by CR on tires and refrigerators and other products. The refrigerator ended up performing poorly and the tires were rated high for certain cars BUT performed poorly on others. CR NEVER mentions this, or perhaps never knew. The likely perform tire test on a specific car and never test against the many designs and chassis issues.
Their surveys are years behind the most recent productions for cars.
In the case of the Tesla…the whole 200 mile limit is pushed under a rug as if only a few drivers would consider a need for a 100K car driving more than this, so why spend any time on it.
Owning a 100K car as just a “local” car is pretended to be a normal position.
Really? Who knew!
Anybody who purchases based upon CR direction is an idiot.

Aug 12, 2014 11:44am EDT  --  Report as abuse
playspeed wrote:
So, so far I read just one complaint in the article is that the embedded computer had one glitch. Well…. I’m sorry it can happen to any gadget out there, an iPad, Google tablet, Windows PC, whatever, it’s not a…. an axe, to be a “square fair”…

Aug 12, 2014 1:51pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.