Elon Musk admits Tesla quality control issues

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has fronted up to negative feedback about his company’s inconsistent product quality

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Tesla CEO and currently the world's richest man, Elon Musk, has admitted that not all Teslas are created equal when it comes to quality.

In a candid interview hosted by engineering and tear-down expert Sandy Munro on Youtube, one of the first questions asked of Musk is about panel gaps on Munro’s own Tesla Model 3.

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“I’ve had criticisms in the past… when I did my reports [on Model 3 build quality]” begins Munro. 

“On the Model 3 we have, I wanted to show you the panel gaps on one side but not on the other. I don’t understand how that can happen,” he continues.   

“I thought your criticisms were accurate,” agrees Musk. 

Musk admits that early Tesla Model 3s in particular were plagued with build quality issues, expressing that it is best to buy a Tesla once production levels reach a "steady state".

“It took us a while to iron out the production process, especially during production ramp-up.

“When friends ask me 'when should I buy a Tesla?' I say you should either buy it right at the beginning or when production reaches a steady state. 

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"During that production ramp-up, it's super-hard to be in vertical climb mode and get everything right on all the little details. So if you really want things to be dialled, it's either very early cars or once production has levelled off. That's when things are going to be best."

Tesla customers have frequently taken to social media to complain about build quality issues in recent years. Common issues include varying sizes of panel gaps, trim pieces falling off, water-resistance and paint imperfections. 

Explaining one example of the issues, Musk said that paint was not being given enough time to dry before a car moved along the production line to the next station.

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Musk said that improvements were made in late-2020, especially in December when, he says, paint quality improve by “a great deal”.

“Production is hell. Of any American start-up car company, I think Tesla is the first to achieve volume production in 100 years. I think Chrysler was the last one,” Musk said. 

In comparison with presenting prototype cars that are “relatively easy and fun“, Musk says that reaching volume production with a reliable product at an affordable price is “excruciatingly difficult”.

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A number of other topics are discussed throughout the interview, including the latest version of Tesla’s Autopilot self-driving system, mega-castings used by Tesla, and Musk's goal of creating structural battery packs which integrate the battery with the chassis.

Australian Tesla Model 3 production is about to move from California to the Shanghai Gigafactory in China later in 2021. 

 

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