Tesla CEO Elon Musk has vowed that the company will one day become “the best manufacturer on Earth.” While this is possible, there are some major flaws in the manufacturing process of their products that hold them back from reaching this goal. The luxury electric cars will often get to customers in relatively good condition, but not without undergoing an abundance of initial repairs right off the assembly line.
For most automakers, it’s not uncommon for a small number of cars to come off the assembly line with some errors that need correcting. With Tesla, that’s a different story. According to nine current and former employees, routine quality checks have revealed more than 90 percent of Model S and Model X regularly come off the line with defects. This has been a recurring problem with the company going as far back as 2012. Tesla, Inc. said its quality control process is abnormally rigorous and designed to catch and correct even the smallest imperfections, but they declined to present any post-assembly defect ratings.
Tesla’s methods seem to be unorthodox and pretty inefficient in comparison with other top automakers. Toyota is among the best automakers out there, and on average only make repairs on fewer than 10 percent of their vehicles, post-assembly. Getting the quality right on during the initial assembly process is important, as large amounts of post-assembly repairs waste an unnecessary amount of time and money. At Tesla, so much goes into the rework after the car is done, that money is basically just thrown away on it.
It’s no wonder that Bernstein analyst A.M. Sacconaghi was less than thrilled about his testing driving experience in the Model 3 at Tesla’s private event. Owners of the new Model 3 have had complaints about certain quality issues with the car, and now it makes sense. With the company’s survival riding on them being able to adequately push out high-quality cars in high volumes, as well as the success of their Model 3 sedan, things will have to change to garner better results.
Tesla has no problem creating fresh and exciting products, but when it comes to making them perfectly in large volumes, it proves difficult. Instead of rushing to get cars made quickly, they need to worry about making quality vehicles initially and appealing to the unforgiving mass-markets they’re trying to reach.