By Andrew Kelly
Silicon Valley automaker Tesla’s cars have been smash hits over the past few years. But are they really as good as the immense hype train surrounding them would suggest? I’d argue not.
First off, let’s start with the fact that Tesla has a history of lying to consumers about key specifications of their cars. A great example is when Tesla launched the high-performance P85D variant of it’s Model S midsize sedan, they claimed the onboard electric motors outputted a total of 691 horsepower. If this true, this would have easily made it one of the most powerful 4 door cars ever to be put on the market. However, after several P85D owners complained about performance figures that did not match up with the stated numbers from Tesla, HybridCars magazine put a P85D on a dyno, a device that measures horsepower in vehicles, and discovered it made only 463 horsepower, or over 100 less than what Tesla initially quoted as.
While the figure of 691 horsepower was technically true, Tesla conveniently failed to mention that 221 of those horses went to the front wheels and that the two motors cannot output the peak horsepower figure at the same time.
Or, how about the time Tesla promised that the Model 3 would start at a relatively cheap price of $35,000 dollars, only to “hold off” production of the base 35 grand model until a “later date.”And despite the cries of people who worship Elon Musk as some sort of singularity god, the $35,000 dollar version of the Model 3 will not include AutoPilot, the feature which has been so heavily advertised by Tesla in relation to the Model 3. Then again, seeing a Tesla being driven by AutoPilot running over a pedestrian, maybe that’s a good thing!
But let’s also take into account the sheer overpricing of Tesla’s vehicles. Take the Model S midsize sedan, with a starting price of $75,000 dollars, you’d expect the Model S to pack serious value. And yet, many features that have been so heavily advertised, such as fully autonomous driving, are only optional extras. There’s also the fact that Tesla build quality is notoriously bad, with gigantic panel gaps, harsh interior materials, and leather seating surfaces that degrade much faster over time than competitors. All in all, the interior of a luxury car like the Model S should be a great place to spend time, but it ends up feeling like something out of a car that you would only drive if you were forced to rent it due to a lack of travel miles. Certain Tesla models are also plagued with reliability issues and break down frequently. The Model X crossover scored a 1 out of 5 reliability rating from Consumer Reports based on an owner survey, and the Model 3 in their fleet has been prone to breakdowns.
Overall, there was a point to be made about Tesla being “innovative” when the Model S first launched-but that time has long since passed. Everyone and their mother now have electric drivetrain options, and even German luxury automakers such as Audi and BMW are now obtaining top 10 spots on Consumer Report’s most reliable brands index. Right now, there is simply nothing a Tesla can offer that another automaker won’t do for cheaper, with a better built, more reliable product.