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J.D. Power Report Scores Tesla A Dismal Last, Yet Tesla Owners Love Their Cars

The latest JD Power Survey of consumer problems with cars shows Tesla
in a dismal last place, with an average of 2.5 problems reported per car. The average car has 1.66 problems. More basic brands like Dodge and Kia had almost half the problem reports. At the same time, Tesla owners (of which I am one) clearly love their vehicles. How do these two facts mesh?

First of all, Tesla is a brand-new car company and even fans and owners admit it has a quality control problem. It’s the thing they like least about their car.

The real reason for this number, though is that unlike any car that came before it, a Tesla is as much a computer as a car. And can you think of any computer you ever bought that had only 3 problems? The new JD Power scores are all worse because 1/4 of the problems come from the infotainment systems, which are also computers. They are buggy. The more complex you try to make a product, the more problems customers are likely to have with it. Apple
has turned itself into the world’s most valuable company because they make computers which have fewer problems than others (at the sacrifice of many other values that people like.) Yet if you have an Apple computer, I bet you can still name a wide variety of problems you’ve had with it here or there. The Genius bars at Apple stores do not sit idle.

Other cars with reputations for quality, like Mercedes, Audi, Subaru and Acura are high up the list, and the reason is quite probably the same.

Those who study car quality are going to have to come up with new metrics to understand the different types of problems people have. If the radio needs rebooting that’s annoying, but that wasn’t even something on the list of possible problems not that long ago.

The Tesla bar is gray because Tesla declined to participate in 15 states where they have the power to refuse. They knew what this survey would show and probably did not want it, but JD Power found enough data in the other 35 states. And may have to learn new ways to study how many problems cars have.

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