It’s not unusual for a car manufacturer to have difficulty ramping up production on a new model, but reports concerning Tesla’s Model Y suggest the manufacturer is having far more problems than is normal. The Model 3 may have been compared with a 1990s Kiawhen it launched, but at least a few people have gotten Model Y’s delivered to them without the backseat being attached to the frame of the car.
Reports of remarkably shoddy workmanship have been surfacing ever since Tesla restarted production of the Model Y at its California factory. Tesla has itself indirectly confirmed that the model is having problems, though it hasn’t officially responded to these most recent articles.
In an email to production employees last week, Musk made several references to Model Y production, writing: “It is extremely important for us to ramp up Model Y production and minimize rectification needs.” He thanks the production workers for “bearing with tough conditions,” and says they should be alleviated soon.
Disconnected back seats are serious, but they aren’t the only problem. Buyers on Reddithave reported rear trunk latches that won’t close properly, various paint and trim problems, indentations in the seats, and loose seatbelts. Buyers have been forced to refuse delivery in some cases, while others report being contacted by Tesla to reschedule delivery of their vehicles due specifically to quality control issues and defects.
Setting aside the fact that no one should ever have to take delivery of a less-than-perfect vehicle, many of these issues are cosmetic. But the few that aren’t are downright concerning. An unattached backseat is a genuine hazard, as are broken or loose seatbelts.
At a guess, Tesla is trying to make certain its Q2 numbers aren’t downright terrible. The company is likely to take a short-term hit due to the pandemic, and the 2nd quarter closes in just two weeks. To our way of thinking, it’s better to keep the cars back and build them properly rather than charging ahead with deliveries at the cost of quality. Every customer that either can’t accept their car or has to reschedule the delivery due to defects is likely to be angrier than a customer who simply has to wait longer. Most people are aware that the coronavirus epidemic has been awful for manufacturers, particularly vehicle manufacturers. Drawing long-term conclusions about Tesla or any other manufacturer based on their performance during the worst economic quarter of any of our lives to-date would be a rather stupid thing to do.
At the same time? Come on. Early cars of a brand new model having some dings and scratches is to be expected, but don’t ship them to customers without major pieces of the interior attached to the frame. That’s the kind of problem that can get someone killed.
Normally this is where we make some kind of prediction or summary in how the EV market is going, but with the bottom having fallen out of the entire automotive industry, that feels rather impossible just at the moment. Anything less than a total bloodbath for Tesla at the end of Q2 is probably good, and even a massive loss will probably just mean the company has a lot of company. It may not have been a good idea to launch the Model Y six months early after all.