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Tesla crushed in Consumer Reports reliability rankings despite improvement

Credit: Tesla

Tesla was found to be one of the most unreliable brands in America, according to Consumer Reports’ annual reliability report.

Consumer Reports‘ annual reliability rankings have been released, and with data from 24 brands and over 300,000 vehicles, Tesla fell near the bottom (19/24) along with Mercedes-Benz, Jeep, Volkswagen, GMC, and Chevrolet. Electric vehicles overall also placed poorly, being the second least reliable category of vehicles. Hybrids/plugin hybrids, especially those from Toyota, were found to be the most reliable.

Before diving deeper into the rankings, it is crucial to understand how Consumer Reports creates its yearly reliability rankings in the first place. This year, the company surveyed over 300,000 vehicles (sold between 2000-2022), and over the past year, owners were asked to report issues they had with their vehicles. Issues were categorized into 17 categories; engine issues, transmission issues, interior electronics issues, etc. From this accumulation of data, Consumer Reports then gives each brand a grade out of 100 regarding their overall reliability.

Consumer Reports also stipulates that they will only rank brands that they have “sufficient survey data for two or more models.” Hence the absence of brands such as Rivian, Alfa Romeo, and Lucid.

Tesla scored a reliability score of 40/100, while electric vehicles overall scored 36/100. It isn’t all bad news for Tesla; its score matches the average for domestic automakers, the company was able to improve its ranking by four places compared to last year, and none of its vehicles made it to the list of 10 least reliable vehicles in America. A list that notably included the popular Hyundai Kona EV scoring 5/100.

Conversely, hybrid and PHEV vehicles crushed the competition with an average score of 78/100. And unsurprisingly, the brand with the most extensive representation within that segment, Toyota, achieved the number 1 spot with an overall reliability score of 72/100. Toyota was joined by Lexus, BMW, Mazda, and Honda in the top 5 (descending order).

Consumer Reports’ results lead to one central question, what influenced Tesla (and electric vehicles generally) in scoring so low compared to the competition? This question becomes especially confounding when the prevailing narrative is that “electric vehicles are generally more reliable than their gas counterparts.”

Consumer Reports’ analysis only addresses this question once, noting that “As more EVs hit the marketplace and automakers build each model in greater numbers, we are seeing that some of them have problems with the battery packs, charging systems, and the motors in their drive systems. Owners of the Chevrolet Bolt, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Hyundai Kona Electric, and Volkswagen ID.4 all reported some of these issues.”

Another couple of issues that may be plaguing Tesla include build quality and software problems. Tesla has notoriously had quality control issues, which will certainly not aid its reliability score. At the same time, as Tesla attempts to offer the bleeding edge of software innovation, they undoubtedly encounter more software issues than have been typically seen in the automotive space. And while these problems are typically fixed through updates and technical support quickly, they could easily contribute to Tesla’s poor performance.

Looking to the future, it is clear that Tesla needs to continue to dedicate itself to improving QC and general reliability. It is easy to say, “Tesla needs to increase production,” but consumers will pay the price if this production expansion comes at the cost of reliability.

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Tesla crushed in Consumer Reports reliability rankings despite improvement
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