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Elon Musk slams the media, then fixes a serious Tesla Model 3 problem discovered by the media

Published May 30th, 2018 3:00PM EDT
Tesla Model 3

Consumer Reports has finally given Tesla’s Model 3 a passing grade following the rollout of a software update that improved the car’s stopping distance during emergency brake testing. As you may recall, CR‘s initial testing found that the Model 3 needed 152 feet to come to a complete stop while traveling at 60 MPH, a distance which the publication said was “far worse than any contemporary car we’ve tested and about 7 feet longer than the stopping distance of a Ford F-150 full-sized pickup.”

Tesla was somewhat taken aback by the report, noting that its own testing found that the Model 3 has a stopping distance of 130 feet. Tesla CEO Elon Musk, to his credit, didn’t scoff at CR‘s report and dismiss the findings out of hand. Rather, he said that the issue could very well be resolved via an over-the-air software update.

“Looks like this can be fixed with a firmware update,” Musk said. “Will be rolling that out in a few days. With further refinement, we can improve braking distance beyond initial specs. Tesla won’t stop until Model 3 has better braking than any remotely comparable car.”

Tesla has since pushed that update out and, in turn, Consumer Reports has now given the Model 3 its stamp of approval.

Consumer Reports now recommends the Tesla Model 3, after our testers found that a recent over-the-air (OTA) update improved the car’s braking distance by almost 20 feet.

Until now, that type of remote improvement to a car’s basic functionality had been unheard of. “I’ve been at CR for 19 years and tested more than 1,000 cars,” says Jake Fisher, director of auto testing at Consumer Reports, “and I’ve never seen a car that could improve its track performance with an over-the-air update.”

It’s a nice end to this Model 3 braking saga, but one question remains: But for Consumer Reports’ initial review, would individuals with early production Model 3 units still be stuck driving around in a car with a less than optimal braking system? It’s great that Consumer Reports identified a serious issue and that Tesla addressed it as quickly as it did, but the fact that it was only brought to light last week might be worrisome to some prospective buyers.

As a final point, it’s somewhat comical that Musk has been railing against the media in recent weeks when the braking problem was only brought to light by the media.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert 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.