The Grand Tour

The Tesla Model S Is Still Pretty Dang Unreliable

Reliability has never been Tesla’s strong suit, by which I mean they are the 70s Alfa Romeo of electric cars. And according to a new report from What Car, the Model S is officially the least reliable electric car among the four big players.

38% of Model S buyers reported faults with their cars. Most of these involved the bodywork and trim pieces, and to a lesser extent, the electric drivetrain itself. I thought if there was only one engine that would be really hard to mess up, it would be an electric motor, which has only one moving part, but Tesla and its infamously shaky quality control found a way. It should be noted that when issues do occur, Tesla has some of the best customer service in the industry, and most problems can be fixed in your driveway by one of their roving service vans.

Topping the study, unsurprisingly, were the Germans and Japanese; the Nissan Leaf is the most reliable electric car, with less than 8% of cars having issues, and What Car reports that they were all fixed for free within a few days. Up next is the BMW i3, which had a reliability score of 89% and problems affecting less than 12% of vehicles. They were also fixed expeditiously and at no cost.

The third-place finisher was the Renault Zoe, the only car on this list which isn’t available in the US, with 32% of owners having problems. This isn’t that surprising, given that it’s a Renault, but it makes Tesla look even worse when the French can build a more reliable car.

The Model 3 has only been out in the wild for a couple of months, and there isn’t enough data to determine whether it’s more reliable than the Model S and Model X. Even if it’s not, owners probably won’t care; nearly every report I’ve read of a Tesla owner complaining about faults ends with the words “I still love my car, though” and “My ‘NO GAS’ license plate should be arriving within the week!”

All joking aside, it’s undeniable that aside from the quality niggles, Teslas are, in general, excellent cars. If the Model 3’s build is up to scratch, it’s got a very real chance of dominating the small-sedan space.

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