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Tesla admits defeat, quietly settles Model X lawsuit over usability problems

Tesla Model X Quality

We can talk about how innovative Tesla is for days on end. Indeed, there’s no disputing the fact that the company, in injecting a bit of Silicon Valley ingenuity into the tried and true auto design process, has completely turned the auto industry on its head. At the same time, Tesla helped kickstarted the EV revolution, even causing traditional automakers like Porsche and BMW to start taking electric cars more seriously.

But in Tesla’s zeal to move extraordinarily quickly, problems have inevitably begun to creep in. Specifically, quality control issues still seem to be plaguing the Model X.

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According to a recent report, avowed Tesla fan named Barrett Lyon recently returned his Model X and filed a lawsuit against Tesla arguing that the Model X was “rushed” and released before it was ready for sale.

“In Lyon’s lawsuit,” Fortune writes, “he claimed the cars doors opened and closed unpredictably, smashing into his wife and other cars, and that the Model X’s Auto-Pilot feature posed a danger in the rain. He also shared a video that shows the car’s self-parking feature failing to operate successfully.”

Now comes word that Tesla has since quietly settled the lawsuit.

“We are committed to providing an outstanding customer experience throughout ownership,” a Tesla spokesperson said on the matter. “As a principle, we are always willing to buy back a car in the rare event that a customer isn’t completely happy. Today, the majority of Model X owners are loving their cars.”

Perhaps, but there’s still no denying that we seemingly can’t go a month without seeing some new report which calls the quality of the Model X into question. Last month, for example, a Fortune review of the Model X observed a number of quality control issues. One particularly worrisome problem focused on the Model X’s seats.

Tesla promised me that the Model X’s second-row seats move in such a way as to allow a baby seat to be in place and yet still move to access the third row. I borrowed a friend’s three-month-old baby—yes, really—and her Uppababy Mesa babyseat and discovered very quickly that the system moved the rear-facing seat far enough forward to hit the back of the driver’s seat. Worse, it started to tip the second-row seats, squeezing the car seat’s frame with the baby in it. Definitely not okay.

And one month earlier, we highlighted a Model X owner who experienced a range of frustrating problems, including a front drivers-side door that wouldn’t fully shut, thus forcing him to drive to work with one his left hand manually keeping the door closed.

“I could manually close it, but the car couldn’t sense that the door was shut, so the electric control wouldn’t latch,” the owner explained. “Yesterday, I literally drove to a meeting holding the door closed.”

It of course goes without saying that these are basic problems that no new car owner ever expects to deal with, especially on a car that can cost well into the six figures.

For any Tesla fans looking for a silver lining, Tesla is at least aware that some problems need serious fixing. During a recent earnings conference call, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that his desk is at the end of the Model X production line so that he can stay on top of any critical issues that need addressing.

“My desk is at the end of the production line,” Musk said. “I have a sleeping bag in a conference room next to the production line that I use quite frequently.”

Notably, Musk himself has said that Tesla was far too ambitious when designing all of the bells and whistles that went into the Model X. And for any worried Model 3 reservation holders out there, Musk not too long ago indicated that the company wouldn’t make the same mistake with the Model 3.

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 15 years. A life long Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW. When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.