Tesla: Beyond the Hype?

Tesla entranced eager customers with their innovative, first-of-its-kind clean technology and energy-powered cars on the market. Because it captured the world’s spotlight and the attention of consumers of all economic backgrounds–especially the higher class– it also attracted immense pressure to manufacture quality and luxury for its exorbitant price points. Tesla is not simply an electric car, it provides the opportunity to commit to the vision of future that runs on clean energy. With the recent release of its Model 3 and Semi, many consumers are flocking to understand, be apart of, or reject the hype around Tesla’s quality.

The quality of Tesla’s cars has been greatly disputed from high-profile car or technology reviewers to Tesla owners themselves. According to Reuter, user complain of defects from “annoying rattles” to glitches in software and poor seals. Other reviewers such as the respected J.D. Power(market researcher) and Bernstein analyst Sacconaghi test drove Tesla Model 3 and had negative comments of “faulty door handles, body panel gaps, and relatively poor fit and finish.” The article also mentioned a former Tesla supervisor who expressed concerns over the large amount of post-assembly repairs that go into reworking the cars and contribute to prevention costs before the models go on market. The overarching concern over Tesla’s quality is whether or not the company can handle the growing pains of transitioning from a boutique carmaker to a mass-production manufacturing business without forfeiting quality and falling into the trap of “building fast, fixing later.”

In defense of the article, Tesla pushed back against the accusations made criticizing quality. The company firmly stated their goal of producing perfect cars for every customer, fine-combing every detail of every vehicle produced, and ensuring that all cars can’t leave the factory in order to keep Tesla’s control end-to-end over all vehicles. Tesla’s site proudly claims that there is zero percent chance of accidents as a result of battery fire while also boasting the lowest probability of injury of any car ever tested by the U.S. government. Additionally, the article highlighted on the company’s increased efficiency in production, from decreasing the number of labor hours needed to manufacture a vehicle 33% since early 2016. Increasing speed of production could compromise quality in cars , be an assignable cause for defects in assembly, and cause extensive external failure costs. These awards demonstrate Tesla’s goal for safety and quality of its drivers, which correlate its aims for sustainability in both environment and quality.

With pressure to market affordability towards mainstream consumers with their Model 3 starting at $35,000, the firm must be attentive to customer satisfaction and customers who are not forgiving of potential defects in function. Because the company is young and pushes for drastic change, the qualms and  skepticism over the quality of its products is understandable. However, the firm could further emphasize quality management using models such as Total Quality Management, which centers the core around customer satisfaction and is supported by tenets of employee involvement and continuous improvement. It could also emulate 6 sigma, which emphasizes techniques and tools for process improvement, which is vital for removing defects and could help establish the firm’s reputation not only for sleek design and luxury, but also quality.

Do you have doubts about Tesla’s quality? What other quality control techniques or practices do you think Tesla should incorporate?  

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-tesla-quality-insight/build-fast-fix-later-speed-hurts-quality-at-tesla-some-workers-say-idUSKBN1DT0N3

http://www.businessinsider.com/tesla-denies-claims-its-cars-suffer-from-quality-issues-2017-11

https://www.tesla.com/blog/mission-tesla

3 thoughts on “Tesla: Beyond the Hype?

  • February 13, 2018 at 4:40 pm
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    The quality of a product is based on the consumers´ perception and satisfaction. So, in this case Tesla is affraid that by changing their production system (increasing the speed of production), the quality of their product will decrease. In order to figure how real is the risk of decreasing quality, Tesla is going to have to find out if their customers are perciving this decrease on quality. In order to do so they will have to generale appraisal costs to assess the performance level of its processes. They could make some surveys to customers and ask them if they feel that the new models have less quality as the old ones. If the customers don´t think that, there is no problem because as I said before, quality depends on the consumers´ perception and satisfaction. But, it they do feel that the quality is decreasing Tesla will have to analyze the process to figure out where the defect that is decreasing the quality is. It seems that it might be in the production process, but it migt be somewhere else.

  • February 15, 2018 at 2:06 am
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    I find it hard to comprehend that increasing production time has such serious effect on product quality. Tesla has been an immense firm for the past few years and just because they enhance their production time does not mean the quality of their product has altered. More importantly, Tesla runs a high quality business. Their products are top of the line and challenge other similarly priced automobiles. Transforming the perception of ‘forced poor quality’ will help Tesla regain market control.

  • February 15, 2018 at 7:38 am
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    My analysis of Tesla’s quality management strategy is that they are fine paying these external failure costs based off defect criticisms of rattling, door panels, glitches, software, and so forth. This company is so dissimilar from Toyota, who efficiently makes a practical car for the consumer at the lowest costs they can. Instead of practicality, Tesla focuses on wowing the consumer with the ultimate technological experience. Most of the awesome features the car offers to the consumer end up working, such as the autopilot driving system and electric engines. Tesla is fine hearing if a few small defects exist, and are happy paying it as long as the core technology they have creates brand recognition.

    On the mass scale there is definitely some concern they won’t be able to match the demand, and it may hurt the quality of their cars – even the core technology. Consumers already saw the Tesla Model 3 miss its production goals, so who knows if they can reach every consumer and turn the nation towards electric cars at a high quality?

    (https://www.wsj.com/articles/tesla-misses-model-3-production-goals-1506976496?mod=djem_jiewr_MG_domainid)

    There’s a few things they can try to prevent a quality disaster on the mass scale. Process improvement through Six Sigma is a must, and should be heavily considered if it is not already. The less variability there is on the market for the cars, the better. There needs to be constant tests on these cars to see if they have too much variability, through x-tests and r-tests. If they do find out there is too much variability in quality, they need to check and find out why this is happening. That could take some serious internal analysis, and I think Tesla’s highly skilled labor could pull it off.

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