Tesla’s Model X Has Bigger Problems Than Faulty Falcon Doors
People love Tesla Motors’ Model 3. But if the rollout of the Model X SUV is any indication, the Model 3 may have a bumpy road ahead. Tesla says it’s seen “some issues” with early Model X builds, which hit the market in October, but that the problems “are not widespread.” This is the norm for Tesla, but as it grows, it “needs to be able to produce cars that don’t have issues,” says KBB analyst Karl Brauer, especially for the family-oriented X. “Nobody wants to have a broken down car, ever, but if you introduce children, then it’s a whole different thing.”
1. It was super late.
When Musk unveiled the Model X, he said it would arrive in early 2014. Then late 2014. Then early 2015. Tesla made its first deliveries last fall. This is par for the course with Tesla, which has a record of running about two years late. Granted, Musk admitted from the start that the X is an exceedingly complicated design, which contributed to the delays. "I'm not sure anyone should have made this car," he said.
2. Drivers are getting double vision.
In February, Elon Musk said Tesla would not provide the X for media reviews, as a way to "suppress demand" before production ramped up. Now, it seems avoiding scrutiny is a good idea, because complaints are stacking up.
Tesla customers typically don't mind the delays. But X owners are starting to complain about problems. Earlier this month, some complained that the enormous windshield on theModel X creates double vision at night, an effect known as “ghosting.” The phenomenon's been spotted in other cars, like the Toyota Prius and Chevrolet Camaro, and Tesla says it's addressing the few complaints it's received.
The double hinged falcon wing doors are supremely cool, but they don't always work as designed. Owner Anne Carter fretted to The Wall Street Journal about what her neighbors might think: “Look at the Carters—they spent all this money and the doors don’t work.” Another owner posted a photo of his falcon door, which uses a sophisticated system of sensors and software to sense, and avoid, obstacles, after it whacked a concrete overhang.
4. The screen is freezing.
A 17-inch, beautiful center console (shown here in the Model S) ain’t worth much when it freezes—an especially troubling problem because the screen controls everything typically handled by a knob or a button. The issue has long bedeviled Model S owners, and Tesla typically responds by helping reboot the software. In some cases, that's meant a trip to the nearest service center. The bug reportedly shown up in a few Model X's, too. Tesla says it's dealing with this bug as it comes up. The automaker's also issuing using over-the-air software updates to issue preventative fixes for various problems, a spokesperson says.
5. Windows won't open—or close.
The windows have also been troublesome, according to a number of threads floating around the Tesla Motors Club forum. Then last week, the San Francisco-based venture capitalist Byron Deeter reported his driver’s side window wouldn’t close all the way, the cherry on top of a host of Model X glitches he’s blaming on the software. Another driver said his driver’s door window wouldn’t open until it finally pried loose an errant piece of stripping that had impeded its process, according to Consumer Reports. To Tesla’s credit, the driver says the company quickly fixed his problems, though they required trips to the company’s Fremont factory and its Santa Monica service center.
6. Weakness in the third row.
Many of these problems have been relatively isolated. Of far greater concern, however, is Tesla's discovery that the third row seats might fold forward in the event of a crash. After the seats failed a strength test in the European Union, the company promptly recalled all 2,666 SUVs it had delivered "out of an abundance of caution." Tesla promises to replace the potentially faulty seat backs and return the repaired Model X's to their owners.