In parallel with Tesla's recent sharp spending cut, the quality issues of its vehicles that have already flooded social media and Tesla owner forums, are poised for an uptick. And it is Tesla's quality control, or lack thereof, that is the topic of a new Detroit News investigative article that highlights extraordinary measures Tesla has taken to deal with its poor build off its manufacturing line.
The article notes that at the same time Sandy Munro of Munro & Associates was telling the world that the Model 3's electronics and battery systems were "generations beyond what other manufacturers are doing", Tesla was hiring a separate automotive supplier in California to work on paint quality issues for cars coming out of its Fremont factory. Outside experts had been called in to touch up paint jobs on tens of thousands of vehicles before they went to customers, according to the article.
First, the good: Munro concluded that the Model 3's technology and electronic systems were state of the art, after doing a full teardown of a Model 3 vehicle. He also believes that the company's over the air updates are "several leaps ahead of the industry".
But it is when we consider Tesla's manufacturing, that it becomes clear that the company is trailing far behind competitors and not spearheading new ground. In fact, an industry paint supplier employee spoke to the Detroit News and told them the contract they worked up with Tesla to fix flaws on their cars coming off the line was "unprecedented".
Musk had disclosed that the company's paint shop (which also was the location of more than one freak fires) was running into difficulties last year and it was evident in the quality of the product that was coming off the production line: Model 3s with paint drippings, dirt in the paint and inconsistent clearcoat. Last August Musk even acknowledged the issue on Twitter: "Sorry, we’ve put pretty extreme rules in place for paint & quality in general. If need be, we’re repainting/replacing entire sections of car or building whole new cars. Got to be done."
But the article reveals it wasn’t just a couple of dozen cars that had issues - rather, it was tens of thousands of them. There was an estimated 20,000 cars that needed paint fixes piled up in lots in the San Francisco area that were too flawed to deliver to customers.
And finally, Munro was forced to conclude that these manufacturing issues presented themselves clearly after they tore down the Model 3. He called the body a "mess of over-engineering". Places like the doorframes and the trunk use "too many parts", according to Munro. "It's like a kid designed it. It's not right. Nobody I know in the industry who knows how to organize a body shop has been called by Tesla," he said.
Online forms and social media continue to be riddled with tales of poor quality builds. These complaints include things like failing doorhandles and bumpers falling off, alongside of car rattling and screen glitches.
"Their poor build-quality is what is holding them up," Munro continued. "The car has too many parts, and too many parts cause the problems you see."