DETROIT, Oct 19 (Reuters) - Tesla Inc’s new Model 3 sedan is likely to have “average” reliability despite production snags because it uses older technology rather than newer innovations that are causing problems for automakers, Consumer Reports magazine said on Thursday.
The magazine said its survey of 640,000 vehicles showed that all-new vehicles or models with newly updated technology are more likely than older models to have a wonky engine, a jerky transmission, or high-tech features that fail outright.
The magazine’s annual survey of new vehicle reliability predicts which cars will give owners fewer or more problems than their competitors, based on data collected. Its scorecard is influential among consumers and industry executives.
For the fifth straight year, Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corp placed first in the magazine’s ranking with the most reliable vehicles on average. General Motors Co’s Cadillac brand was last among 27 brands ranked. Tesla ranked 21st on the list.
The magazine’s prediction that the Tesla Model 3, which has faced production bottlenecks, will have average reliability illustrates the challenges automakers face.
The Model 3 is the luxury electric vehicle maker’s newest car, and Consumer Reports said it had no data on the vehicle. But it relies largely on technology the carmaker has used on its Model S sedan, which has been in production since 2012, and Consumer Reports said predicted reliability for that car is now “above average.”
“Electric vehicles are inherently less complicated than gasoline or hybrid alternatives. The Model 3 is the least complicated Tesla yet,” Consumer Reports said.
With many new cars, customers complain about problems with continuously variable transmissions and eight- and nine-speed gear boxes designed to boost fuel mileage, the magazine said.
Hard to use infotainment systems also continue to annoy customers. Consumer Reports said its survey found that owners of models in the first year of production reported twice as many complaints about vehicle electronics.
“More often than not, our data suggests it’s prudent for consumers to wait for the technology to mature,” Jake Fisher, head of Consumer Reports auto testing, said in a statement ahead of a presentation in Detroit.
Automakers are moving quickly to fix problems, the magazine said. After Korean automaker Hyundai Motor Co got hit with complaints about the transmission on its 2016 Hyundai Tucson sport utility vehicle, the company took action that reduced complaints about the 2017 model by more than half, Consumer Reports said.
In July, Consumer Reports restored a top rating in its class for Tesla’s Model S after the company updated the braking system. (Reporting by Joe White; Editing by Susan Thomas)