Consumer Reports And Its Troublesome Tesla: Keep Calm And Carry On

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The media have seized on a blog post that documents the niggling problems Consumer Reports has had with its long-term Model S. But it’s best to keep calm and carry on, because there’s not a lot  to see here.

Any company on the rise will have our 24-hour media cycle hungry for the “gotcha”, the indication that things aren’t what they seem.

And so it went after Consumer Reports blogged about the failures of the Model S it purchased new and has driven more than 15,000 miles. On cue came the harping: Is this the beginning of the end of Tesla’s inspiring progress? And the stock price – good God, won’t somebody please think of the stock price!?

Particularly tiresome was the Nightly Business Report’s excitable coverage, where the expert they brought on said, “If I’m paying $90,000 for a vehicle, I want that vehicle to perform flawlessly.” This completely misses the point of why people are buying Teslas.


Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, where Tesla is based and its cars are designed and built, the Tesla is akin to a four-wheeled killer app, the one out there on the bleeding edge that everyone has heard about and think they kinda want. No one living this close to Silicon Valley expects anything on the frontier to perform flawlessly; in fact if it did, it may indicate that it’s not advanced enough and that its engineers did not take enough risks.


But you don’t have to live near Tesla to decide to throw in with the rookie. If you wanted a reliable car with an established history for the kind of coin Tesla charges, then your choices are just about limitless. Tesla buyers are now and will continue to be first adopters who are willingly embarking with Tesla on its grand and so far fruitful carmaking adventure.

Media hysteria aside, the blog post shows Consumer Reports being even-handed, balancing the obvious love its staffers have for the Model S with the list of items that have been fixed and replaced. It does not appear that its Model S ever left a driver stranded, and some of the issues were resolved with software updates.

The blog’s writer floats concern that the magazine’s next reliability survey may find the Model S scoring a worse-than average rating. If this kerfuffle is any indication, then the media will care a lot more about that than Tesla’s potential buyers will.


Meanwhile, development continues on the Model S…


…and as of this writing, Tesla’s stock is up $4.54 to close at $264.50. Keep calm and carry on.






  1. You write that owners spending $90k on a car have a limitless array of options for reliable transportation, sure, if you count lowly Toyotas and Lexuses (Lexi?). But if you compare it to the competition, you have a much smaller universe (BMW 7s and MB S-classes will also likely find their way into the shop for some niggle). Perhaps the Lexus LS is the only car that will be (almost) guaranteed to not spend much time in the shop. While the Germans’ issues may not be as major as driveline swaps, they will still be annoying, all the while a 750 or S550 not being as innovative or eye catching as a TESLA.

    Like you said, TESLA owners are first-adopters, just what TESLA needs as it perfects it’s products and moves downmarket with the X and 3.

    1. Yep, that’s true – you’re typically signing up for more complexity and potential maintenance with an ultra-premium sedan. To get the Tesla’s innovations in the bargain is likely a no-brainer for its buyers.

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