Consumer Reports Pulls Tesla Model S Recommendation, Cites Owner Complaints Of Spotty Reliability

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What Consumer Reports giveth, Consumer Reports taketh away. Consumer Reports has waxed poetic about the Tesla Motors Model S electric car for well over a year, giving the vehicle a 99 out of 100 rating — the highest honor it has ever bestowed upon a vehicle -- that was until the Model S P85D came around. The balls-to-the-wall performance monster broke the publication’s rating system, scoring a 103 on the 100-point scale.

But the folks at Consumer Reports may have been a bit blinded by the aura surrounding the Model S. Dashing good looks and supercar performance can have that effect on people. But when it comes to how the vehicle holds up in the real world, Tesla’s pride and joy isn’t exactly a winner when its owners have their say.

During its Annual Auto Reliability Survey, Consumer Reports reached out to Tesla Model S owners. It received 1,400 survey responses from owners, which was enough to compile a laundry list of complaints about the Model S ranging from faulty electric motors to stubborn door handles to leaky sunroofs.

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“The main problem areas involved the drivetrain, power equipment, charging equipment, giant iPad-like center console, and body and sunroof squeaks, rattles, and leaks,” wrote Consumer Reports. “Specific areas that scored worse on the 2015 model, compared with the 2014 model in last year’s survey, were the climate control, steering, and suspension systems. Complaints about the drive system have also increased as the cars have aged—specifically for the 2013 model, which was the car’s first full model year.”

The sheer volume of consistent complaints about the Model S was enough to send its predictive reliability score of “average” to “worst-than-average.” TSLA was down over 10% earlier today in trading on the news and ended the day down over 6% to $213. It is still down in after hours trading.

The problems that owners reported are exactly new news either — Edmunds’ long-term Model S went through four drive units before it put the vehicle up for sale last year.

This is an interesting development in the Tesla Motors saga. If Tesla is having this many issues with its premium Model S, which can soar well past the $100,000 mark, one must wonder how that bodes for the entry-level Model III, which will be priced from $35,000. A lower price tag means more areas to cut corners, something that Tesla can ill afford at this time.