Tesla is creating a lot of buzz with new model 3 cars with ramping up production numbers, The New Roadster and Electric truck production dates promised there is a lot of expectations set by Elon Musk.
Before the launch of Model 3, Tesla was only producing high-end luxury cars like the Model S and the Model X. But Tesla needed a mass market product to hold a firm grasp at the markets, and with the launch of Model 3, Tesla is hoping to grow its market share to compete with some the biggest feet in the automotive industry.
Model 3 has been anticipated as Tesla’s ace product with a large market. The range is promising, features are impressive, the price tag is kind of icing on the cake, and with tested electric powertrain is like the cherry on top. It has been launched targeting the majority of the customer in and out of USA markets and a lot is expected out of it.
But it has not been a straight and narrow road for Tesla. Though the Model X and Model S have been promising on the technological side, Tesla has been facing a lot of production challenges.
The critics, as well as the owners, had a lot of complaints regarding the disappointing build quality of the Model S and Model X. The battery operations and the electric drives have been showing minor issues day in day out. The rattles and squeaks have also been a huge concern along with the quality issues and there was definitely a lot of room for improvement.
Learning from some of the disastrous issues in the Model S and Model X, Tesla has considered improving upon them pretty seriously. Being primarily an electric technological company, they have resolved all the operational issues in their latest product the Model 3. The Model 3 has a better battery performance, better power output and an improved overall driving experience, and considering the price tag on it, Tesla has certainly done a good job.
But it looks as if Tesla has not successfully resolved the other issues it was facing. Let’s dig deep into it and tear down the latest addition to the Tesla family, the Model 3.
Tesla Model 3
The Model 3 is the latest car launched by Tesla and is made with the purpose of targeting the mass markets. Its attractive features with the even more attractive pricing are already attracting a plethora of buyers and is only increasing exponentially.
The most upgraded variant of Model 3 can go up to 310 miles on a single charge which is very impressive considering a starting price of $35000. Tesla says it is equipped with 8 cameras and 12 ultrasonic sensors and forward facing radars to support the well acclaimed Tesla Autopilot, though not currently embedded in the car. As soon as Tesla upgrades Model 3 to the autopilot it would have a Level 3 autonomy, which means it’ll be able to partially drive itself.
However, no car is perfect!
Some critical issues have come up regarding the design and the safety of the vehicle.
Safety issues in Model 3.
Now when it comes to safety, no car company would want to compromise on that, Tesla not being an exception. But knowingly or unknowingly, Tesla has left some safety loopholes in the Model 3.
Although would not be appropriate to call Model 3 an “unsafe” car, people have pointed out some minute yet critical safety issues in the vehicle which could prove disastrous in the case of an accident.
Problem 1: It would be needed to cut the power off in the case of an accident to avoid fire due to any kind of spark. Usually, the power cable is in the position from where it can be accessed easily, but it is not the case here. The power cable is inside a compartment in the front hood. That’s not all; there is no mechanical system to open the front hood! How is one supposed get access to the cable?
Solution: Its solution is already available in most of the vehicles. Almost all the cars have a mechanical lever in the driver’s cabin to open the front hood. This is not only the most basic and effective solution but also very well known among car makers. It is unimaginable what the designers would have had in their minds while designing that!
Problem 2: The doors primarily have an electronic opening system. What could be an issue in that? Well, the front doors also have a mechanical latch in case the electronic system dies. Seem pretty fine? The issue is, the back doors don’t! How are the passengers on the rear seat supposed to get out in case of an emergency?
Solution: The solution to this is general common sense. Either they should have given a similar mechanical system in the back doors as well or some other kind of opening mechanism to open the rear doors in case of an emergency.
Problem 3: Possibly the most problematic thing in the Model 3 is the central touch display. The problem is not the display, but its position. The display is programmed to show all the information an instrument cluster would, like the speed, the battery levels and all the other required information. Each and every driver control like the air-conditioner, the wipers, the lights, etc is converted to electronic control and is control only by the single touch display. A driver wouldn’t want to see down on the side everytime he wants to see the driving information. It is not only uncomfortable but also seriously dangerous for the driver to take the concentration off the road and onto the display. Moreover, some of the important controls are buried deep in the menus making it even more difficult for the driver to access them.
Solution: The whole idea of eliminating the instrument cluster for a single central display is still not accepted by many auto experts. The single display will have these problems and they can’t be eliminated unless the Tesla introduces another display on the dash in front of the driver or on the steering wheel like Byton did. The solution that we came up with is an HUD unit. It Tesla want to stick to their decision of eliminating the instrument cluster, they should provide an HUD unit instead. Of course aftermarket HUD units can be installed by the owners separately, but Tesla should feel responsible for providing one preinstalled. This could definitely solve this issue.
Tolerances exceed the desired Quality level.
Tesla has been struggling with the design part all along. And more that the design, the fabrication of the design is what is troubling them. Though Tesla cars are one of the most aesthetically impressive ones, if you look a little deep you will find a lot of production quality flaws.
As we start from the front, the alignment of the front fender is slightly off and you can even see that the hood is slightly upwards. Though it is not very noticeable, it’s still there.
Moving to the sides of the vehicle, the door panels are very well aligned and seamless. But the chrome trim is slightly misaligned. The chrome trim is very popular these days in luxury vehicles and it gives a rich classy look. But Tesla ruined it in the Model 3. It is the most noticeable misalignment in the vehicle, looks pretty ugly and can be embarrassing for the owner.
Moving to rear part, the rear trunk is a bit to the left so it is slightly misaligned with the brake lights. This is easily noticeable and doesn’t look very nice.
The critics are surprised to see the tolerance stack-ups in the vehicle. The gaps in the vehicle far wider than you would see in any of the modern vehicles.
The solution to these problems is simply to improve the quality of the production and design. Getting better instrumentation and machinery is the only probable way to go.
Driving is the best part
Tesla has been very much acclaimed for its impressive ride quality and smooth driving controls. So not many complaints here.
The electronically adjustable steering effort system gives a personalized feel to the steering system. Good on-center feel and smooth maneuvering are all that a driver dreams for.
The thrust of the vehicle feels amazing. There’s no noise, no shifting, just smooth seamless torque and the acceleration will surely give you an adrenaline pump.
The suspension of the other hand is a little off. It doesn’t handle the bumps that well and seems to be busy all the time. The owners have been complaining about the ride is bumpy and not very comfortable in the long run.
This car like almost all electric cars has regenerative braking. Though being a rear wheel drive, it doesn’t do quite as good a job as a front wheel drive electric would as most of the braking in any car is on the front wheel. But as far as the braking is concerned, it’s almost perfect.
So not many problems in the driving part except a few. The solution to which can only be figured out as the company gains some experience. No product can be perfect in one go. People should let Tesla have time and surely they will come up with solutions.
We’ve torn down the performance part of the Model 3, now let’s look into the comfort part. The NVH study shows us how harsh the noise and vibrations of the vehicle are on the driver. Nowadays NVH is one of the primary concerns of every car maker, and rightly, Tesla is not an exception.
But there has been some issue observed in the NVH part of the vehicle.
As mentioned earlier also, the suspension system of Model 3 is a bit unsatisfactory. This, as a result, leads to vibrations, especially at high speeds.
Talking about high speeds, the wind and the road noise are way above comfort level at such speeds. It is understandable for an electric car as there is no engine roaring all the time, but still such noises should be given a special attention.
Some rattles and squeaks have also been observed by the drivers. Especially the front doors rattle a lot while closing may be because of some loose parts inside.
The insulation coating and the foam padding, on the other hand, is very well planted and does not allow the external environment affect much.
The NVH issues are pretty much on the lighter side, every IC engine car has them, but they are usually overshadowed by the engine noise. But still being an electric car maker, Tesla can do better to minimize them.
This article primarily focused on the production problems in the Model 3, as you will easily find the good things in every other article. There is a lot of extraordinary greatness in the vehicle and it would not be appropriate to judge it on the basis of the above reviews. Still, the problem is what this article highlighted cannot be ignored at any cost and should be taken care of by Tesla in the future, more production should not be at the cost of Quality.
All in all, Model 3 is a make or break proposition for Tesla, and to make it a success, customers satisfaction should be their top priority.