Consumer Reports is pulling its recommendation of Tesla Model 3, citing reliability issues with the car.
Tesla buyers are more likely to be satisfied with their car than customers of any other brand, according to Consumer Reports. Yet the publication says many customers reported problems with the Model 3, including loose body trim and glass defects.
"Consumers expect their cars to last — and not be in the repair shop. That's why reliability is so important," said Jake Fisher, senior director of automotive testing at Consumer Reports.
Tesla (TSLA) pointed to its overall customer satisfaction rating from Consumer Reports and said it has corrected many of the problems found in the survey.
"We take feedback from our customers very seriously and quickly implement improvements any time we hear about issues," said the company statement. It said the survey was conducted from July through September, "so the vast majority of these issues have already been corrected through design and manufacturing improvements, and we are already seeing a significant improvement in our field data."
Consumer Reports has previously pulled its recommendation of a Tesla model over questions about its reliability. Last fall, the higher-priced Tesla Model S sedan also lost it "recommended" status, even though Consumer Reports had given the car its best review score ever: 103 points on a scale only designed to go up to 100.
Tesla's stock (TSLA) fell 2.3% Thursday.The Model 3, which is significantly less expensive than the Model S, didn't have a score nearly that good. But it had a good overall score - 82 on the road test conducted by Consumer Reports staff. That put it behind only the Model S among electric cars and hybrids and better than most car models.
The Model 3 is key to Tesla's goal of becoming consistently profitable. After a difficult ramp-up process that included many missed production targets and deadlines, Tesla made about 5,000 of the Model 3s a week. That allowed Tesla to turn a profit in each of the two most recent quarters.
It also made the Model 3 the bestselling luxury car in the United States. Its starting price is currently about $43,000, though options can make it significantly more expensive. Tesla promises it will come out with a $35,000 version later this year. That version will have a less expensive, shorter-range battery. Tesla hopes the cheaper version will help it tap into the mass market.