Elon Musk and Tesla have certainly had their fair share of problems involving both its cars and the company itself. Just like their fellow American vehicle manufacturer Harley-Davidson, Tesla delivers products with more problems than their foreign counterparts. And just like Harley-Davidson, Tesla's customers report that they are more satisfied than owners of other makes.
Whenever they've been in a vulnerable position, their loyal, cult-like followers show up to defend the brand. The one thing Tesla has always been able to count on is that the customer will take their side. After all, Tesla's fanboys tend to see Elon Musk as a genius who is out to save the world from the horrors of climate change – like a green Batman – while others view him as an extremely eccentric billionaire with crazy opinions.
Here are some of the things every Tesla owner should know about the company.
The Autopilot has a misleading name, as it's not really an autopilot. The language on Tesla's website, their videos, press releases, and comments made by Musk has deceived and misled consumers into believing the Autopilot feature is safer and more capable than it actually is.
Consumer Watchdog and the Center for Auto Safety even sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission asking them to investigate Tesla's sales strategies.
19 Tesla Hides Work-Related Injuries
With the injury rate at Tesla factories being off the charts, management stopped recording most workplace injuries on legally-mandated logs to keep the injury rate down. An independent investigation in November 2018 found that Tesla actively hid serious injuries and sent injured workers back to the production line. A physician whistleblower who worked at the factory said her job was to keep as many patients off the books as possible.
18 Build Quality Like A '90s Kia
There's nothing nice to say about Kias and Hyundais from the 90s. They were cheap cars with several build defects, flaws, and failures.
When a Michigan-based consulting agency dismantled a Model 3, they likened it to a “Kia in the 90s.” The technician criticized the car’s gaps and generally lackluster quality. Green Car Reports wrote, "Model 3 build quality was the worst of any new car from any maker the last 10 years.”
17 Higher Maintenance Costs Than Advertised
With Tesla dealerships being so sparse, those living outside populated areas might have to plan their trips to the service center better than the average car owner would. We're told Teslas don't have many moving parts and don’t need the same servicing as a fossil-fueled car, yet standalone inspections usually range from $475 to $750 – repairs not included. A four-year Tesla maintenance plan is around $2,500.
16 Overpromise, Underdeliver
Elon Musk is a phenomenal salesman and has worked hard to convince everyone that Tesla is the most incredible thing ever! Sources close to Musk said, "It’s all about the narrative for Elon."
In Musk's mind, it's 'real', even if the products are far from finished when they go on sale. Tesla has already been sued for not delivering the product as promised, which technically can be considered fraud.
15 The Workers Don't Get Sick Leave
In 2015, Musk came under fire for scolding a Tesla employee who missed a company meeting to attend the birth of his child. Other employees have been prevented from returning to work following a medical leave.
Tesla has a very strict attendance policy with staff penalized for being late, taking time off for family reasons, and for being sick. Too many demerits will see them terminated regardless of any extenuating circumstances.
14 Cold Weather Woes
No matter the car brand, when it's cold, batteries on an EV drain overnight and lose more juice than it normally would. But other predicaments are particular to Tesla during the winter.
Tesla made a poor design decision with the Model 3's door handles that is turning into a headache for some owners. Basically, ice causes the handles to freeze and they can't open the doors.
13 Customer Perks Are Disappearing
In the beginning, when Tesla was a new, small company and not dealing with the kind of demand that it is now, there were a whole lot of perks that came with being a Tesla owner. Customers are complaining that the company is growing too big to keep all its customer-focused promises.
12 Low Salaries
It’s been widely reported that workers at the Fremont Tesla factory make far less than the typical U.S. automotive production worker – meaning they rely on overtime to survive.
The Tesla Gigafactory in Reno struggles to find new employees as they don’t pay enough for them to build a retirement fund, or even be able to afford insurance. Those who've asked for a pay rise were allegedly fired on the spot.
11 Complete Lack Of Safety At The Factory
Numerous accidents at the Tesla factory is because of severe lack of equipment maintenance – former employees claim at least three fires broke out at the plant because of that. Due to the bizarre reason that Musk hates yellow, the safety markings are painted grey – the same color as the factory floor. He also has a phobia of having too many signs around and doesn't like caution tape and safety shoes.
10 No Teslas Are Recommended By Consumer Reports
Due to reliability issues, Consumer Reports doesn't recommend any of the models in Tesla's lineup. Problems include loose body trim, glass defects, rattling noises, leaks – the list goes on.
The Model S actually received the best review score ever by Consumer Reports when they first tested it, scoring 103 points on a scale only designed to go to 100. Shortly after, it lost its "recommended" status as problems started to surface.
9 Poor Quality Control
When you finally decide to treat yourself and buy a nice luxury car, you'd think it would actually look nice! That's not always true regarding Tesla. Every Tesla model has suffered from various cosmetic issues, with panel gaps being the most common, and has been a problem on all models.
There are also complaints about paint blemishes and brand new cars delivered with rust-spots. Clearly, Tesla's quality control is lacking.
8 Employees Aren't Allowed To Form A Union
Musk has officially stated that his position on unions is neutral, however many former workers have complained that they've been fired for wanting to unionize. This means there isn't much the employees can do about the poor factory working conditions. Any supervisors who overhear production workers discussing unions are quick to shut down the conversation. Those who keep talking about it end up getting fired.
7 Not As Environmentally Friendly As We Are Led To Believe
According to the German ADAC, a Model S must be driven more than 380,000 miles before it will be more environmentally friendly than a diesel-powered car of the same size. Compared to a same-size gasoline-powered car, Tesla would have to drive 72,000 miles in order to be better for the environment. The largest part of an EV's CO2 emissions is battery production, but electricity from sources not 100% renewable is also to blame.
6 The Competition Is Heating Up!
When Tesla first hit the market, there was nothing like it. They had a monopoly when it came to high-end electric cars – all other EVs were obscure city cars that would people rolled around in on streets, dying from laughter. These days, things are a little different. If Tesla can't get their quality control issues fixed, they might be in serious trouble.
5 Never Question The Great Leader
Elon Musk is apparently prone to bouts of rage, which often culminates in firing whoever is around him at the time. As a result, managers have warned staff not to ask questions, raise concerns, or objections. If anyone questions Musk, they quickly find themselves reassigned, demoted, or terminated.
A former executive claimed he came to the office every day wondering if it was going to be his last day at work.
4 Never The Car's Fault
After a Tesla accident, Elon or another Tesla official will claim their investigation shows it was caused by the driver – not the car or autopilot. Musk also claimed Teslas are four times safer than other cars. Either he's very misinformed, or he's lying.
Tesla's actual fatality rate is quadruple that of Audi and BMW, more than triple of all luxury cars combined, and at least 37% higher than the average car.
3 Potential Drop In Secondhand Value
We've covered problems regarding Tesla ownership and the company's poor quality control. In addition, there's Tesla's decision to not have the usual dealerships, the cost of ownership, the increasing competition, the lies and cover-ups. If consumers consider that to be too troublesome, that could potentially be the straw that breaks the camel's back.
Once a product's perceived value goes down the drain, the rest of the company will usually follow shortly.
2 Electric Cars Might Not Be The Future After All
Tesla uses Lithium-Ion batteries, and we've already covered how bad battery production is regarding pollution. However, there's another potentially cleaner option for drivers looking to move away from gasoline: hydrogen fuel cells.
Lexus, Honda, and Toyota are already choosing hydrogen fuel cells over lithium batteries, largely because they charge faster, hold their charge longer, and perform much better in extremely cold weather.
1 The Car Names Are Sexy
We could easily have written more negative stuff. However, there are some positives to Teslas as well. We can't deny that they're insanely fast, and at least Tesla seems to have a sense of humor, which is evidenced by the 'easter eggs' and the model names.
The upcoming Tesla is planned to be called the "Model Y,” and if you put the names together, they spell out ‘SEXY.’ Or, more accurately, ‘S3XY’.
Sources: Cheatsheet, Electrek, Green Car Reports, Consumer Reports, Forbes, CNBC, Entrepreneur, Business Insider, Motor Trend, Fortune