It was all looking up for Elon Musk this morning.
Once again, just as his company’s stock looked set to face up to reality, he spewed some new headline-making smoke with mirrors and the stocks ramped, helped by price upgrade by Berenberg to offset the bitter taste from last week’s Morgan Stanley price target cut… and then Consumer Reports just spoiled the party.
The problem: Consumer Reports filed to “recommend” the Tesla Model 3 – a huge slap in the face for a car that was supposed to be the next big thing for the middle class, and here’s the reason why: “Our testers also found flaws – big flaws – such as long stopping distances in our emergency braking test and difficult-to-use controls”
The Tesla’s stopping distance of 152 feet from 60 mph 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.
In our tests of both Model 3 samples, the stopping distances were much longer than the stopping distances we recorded on other Teslas and other cars in this class.
CR’s experience with the Model 3’s braking is not unique. Car and Driver, in its published test of a Model 3, said it noticed “a bizarre amount of variation” in its test, including one stop from 70 mph that took “an interminable 196 feet.”
“I’ve been testing cars for 11 years,” Car and Driver Testing Director K.C. Colwell said in an interview with CR, “and in 11 years, no car has stood out with inconsistent braking like this. Some trucks have. . . . It was just weird.”
Another major factor that compromised the Model 3’s road-test score was its controls. This car places almost all its controls and displays on a center touch screen, with no gauges on the dash, and few buttons inside the car.
This layout forces drivers to take multiple steps to accomplish simple tasks. Our testers found that everything from adjusting the mirrors to changing the direction of the airflow from the air-conditioning vents required using the touch screen.
These types of complex interactions with a touch screen can cause driver distraction because each act forces drivers to take their eyes off the road and a hand off the steering wheel.
The Model 3’s stiff ride, unsupportive rear seat and excessive wind noise at highway speeds also hurt its road-test score.
Well, on Saturday Musk did say the Model 3 all-wheel drive with options, paint, wheels included for $78,000; he never said anything about brakes being included.
Joking aside, apart from inconsistent braking problems, distracted driving from controls, wind noise, stiff ride, and unsupportive rear seat, the Tesla Model 3 is clearly a game-changer.
We suspect Bonds are still right on this.