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?