Early models of Tesla’s electric SUV, the Model X, are facing teething issues, plaguing users with glitches that lock them out of their cars and bang their falcon-wing doors into things.
Weeks after the recall of 2,700 Model Xs, which at the time was nearly the entire fleet, over a safety issue with the rear seats, reports from buyers have painted a picture of Tesla struggling to meet demand and quality control.
One venture capitalist from San Francisco, Byron Deeter, has seen so many problems with his Model X, which was one of the first off the production line, that he’s had to stop using it for his daily commute.
Deeter told Fortune: “It had a handful of what I’d call acceptable tech glitches early on, like the falcon-wing doors not always detecting that I was ready for them to open. But in the past couple of days it’s gotten to where I think there are safety and usability issues.”
Deeter is not alone. The US-based Consumer Reporters recently detailed one 75-year-old buyer’s experience. It was bug-ridden from the start and prevented him from making the cross-country journey from the Tesla factory in Freemont, California to New Rochelle in New York. Michael Karpf’s Model X has issues with its doors failing to close, open or sense objects to prevent striking them.
The Wall Street Journal also detailed two further Model X owners facing issues with the falcon-wing doors, putting the cars out of commission until they could be serviced.
Other buyers have flocked to the company’s support forums to complain of quality control issues, including a distortion of lights at night caused by the curved windscreen making it difficult to judge distances to cars and objects.
‘I could go on and on’
One Tesla forum user called Shelmire said: “My car has been back into the shop twice, and the bugs are still everywhere.
“The P door does not open, the D door opens to different positions, no parking feature, sometimes doors won’t close unless you force it and when you close it sounds like metal to metal. I could go on and on.”
Consumers having issues with new lines of cars is not unique to Tesla, which also had teething issues when it first rolled out its Model S saloon in the US in 2012. Toyota’s Prius suffered reliability issues after a redesign in 2010, while Volvo was forced to recall 59,000 cars, Vauxhall 220,000 cars and Toyota 6.5m cars in over the past few years.
A Tesla spokesperson said: “While we have seen some issues with early Model X builds, the issues are not widespread, and we are working closely with each owner to respond quickly and proactively to address any problems. We will continue to do so until each customer is fully satisfied. This commitment is one of the reasons why 98% of our customers say they will buy another Tesla as their next car.”
While Tesla’s rapid responses to buyers’ issues has kept customer loyalty for its Model S and X cars, with consumer reports scoring it 99 out of 100 for consumer satisfaction. It will be a different kettle of fish should issues such as these be present when the company ships its Model S, which has reached almost 400,000 orders, according to CEO Elon Musk.
Meeting production volume and quality for a mass-market vehicle such as the Model 3 could prove magnitudes more difficult, as will the service problems if Tesla cannot get the car right out of the gate.