‘Consumer Reports’ Rebuffs Tesla’s Criticism of its Ratings

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October 27, 2017

Consumer Reports is pushing back against electric car maker Tesla over its mixed evaluation of Tesla vehicles in its latest reliability report.

The magazine said Tesla issued “supercharged and unsupported claims about the performance and safety” of its vehicles in taking a shot at the 2017 Annual Reliability Survey, released Thursday.

The survey is among the most closely watched in the industry. Owners of more than 640,000 cars and trucks offer feedback on the reliability of their vehicles.

This year’s study found that Tesla’s electric luxury sedan, the Model S, has improved to “above average” reliability. The electric crossover, the Model X, was one of its worst-rated models for reliability in the survey.

Based on “historic results,” Consumer Reports predicted the new Model 3, Tesla’s first mass-market vehicle with a starting price of about $35,000, will be ranked as average.

Consumer Reports says it received more than 2,000 consumer survey responses about Teslas.

Tesla issued a statement in which it said Consumer Reports’ staff “has not yet driven a Model 3, let alone do they know anything substantial” about how the car was designed and engineered. Thus, it called into question how the magazine could predict the sedan’s reliability.

It was the latest blast in what has become Tesla’s longer-running criticisms of Consumer Reports’ findings. Tesla says the magazine “has lowered the integrity of their automotive reporting by singling out Tesla to a degree that is absurd, unnecessary and misleading,” implying “our cars are unsafe, underperforming and unreliable based on tests and surveys that lack basic scientific integrity.”

The magazine counters that it goes to great lengths to ensure that its findings are valid, including buying, rather than borrowing, the cars that it evaluates. It says it conducts 50 standardized tests on every vehicle it reviews.

The last dust-up between the magazine and Tesla came in April when Consumer Reports deducted points from its overall evaluation of the Models S and X for lacking an emergency automatic braking feature. It came the same day that Tesla said it was sending the feature to cars wirelessly via an over-the-air update.

Previously, Consumer Reports said the Model S was one of the best cars it has ever tested.

“We at CR are confident in our data, methods and reporting—and the historic results we’ve achieved in improving consumer products, services and the marketplace,” the magazine said last week.

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