As an innovative and forward-thinking company, Tesla has managed to carve out a lucrative niche for itself among early adopters. Indeed, because Tesla vehicles are incredibly unique and come jam-packed with an incredible suite of advanced technologies, Tesla owners have been more than happy to give Elon Musk and co. the benefit of the doubt when things go awry.

Teslas coming off the production line are, on the whole, much more reliable than ever before. The company, however, still has a long ways to go before it manages to catch up to more established automakers when it comes to overall build quality and reliability.

As a quick example, yesterday we highlighted the experience of tech-reviewer and Model S owner Marques Brownlee. Brownlee will be the first to admit that he loves his brand new Tesla Model S P100D, but the reality is that he’s already experienced some worrisome issues with the car’s steering wheel. Similarly, you might recall that some of the first Model X vehicles to come off of the production line were fraught with problems, some of them rather dangerous.

Through it all, Tesla has managed to withstand a barrage of bad press pertaining to quality control issues because most Tesla buyers understand that Tesla is a relatively new company seeking to completely revolutionize the way we view and experience transportation. Consequently, most Tesla owners give Tesla a pass for issues that other car companies would be held up to the fire for.

That’s all well and good, but with the Tesla Model 3 set to launch late next year, Tesla’s free-ride, so to speak, will likely come to an end. The Model 3 marks Tesla’s first effort at a mass-market EV, and while Tesla hasn’t released any updated figures recently, it’s believed that the total number of Model 3 reservations falls somewhere in the 385,000-400,000 range.

With Tesla about to embark on a period of rapid growth, it will no longer be afforded the same benefit of the doubt it has enjoyed over the past few years. A typical Model S owner has multiple cars and is willing to deal with the frustration of taking the car into the shop. In stark contrast, if a Model 3 buyer spends $35,000 for Tesla’s mass-market EV and soon encounters a rash of problems, Tesla won’t be getting off the hook so easy.

Tesla has said that the Model 3, by virtue of it being a simpler car to manufacture, will likely not see as many first-release issues as we saw with the Model S and the Model X. Hopefully this is the case because upwards of 400,000 Model 3 buyers won’t be as forgiving as Model S and Model X buyers have been.

Update: Following this report, Consumer Reports published its annual ranking of the car brands consumers are most satisfied with. Notably, Tesla came in ranked as #1.

View Comments