Are our worst fears about the Model 3's quality coming true?
The slow release of the Model 3 is throwing a wild card into Tesla's plans for world domination. The interest in the small electric car combined with its limited access means that all eyes are tuned onto the few Model 3s that are already out. If every owner's experience goes well, you can expect the number of preorders to rise. On the other hand, if the few existing Model 3s seem to be riddled with problems, it means that Tesla is having a hard time scaling up production while maintaining reliability, which could drive buyers elsewhere.
Unfortunately, things seem to be going wrong with at least one early Model 3. You You Xue is a Tesla fan, the owner of a Model S P100D, and recently took delivery of a white Model 3 before most other owners got their cars. To share the love, he decided to embark on a cross-country road trip with his Tesla and document the whole thing on Facebook. Along the way he is stopping for meet and greets where he answers questions and gives other Model 3 preorder holders a test drive. Unlike some fanatics, Xue is not keen on distorting the truth and hiding his Model 3's problems to make it seem as if it's all good in Tesla Land when his experience doesn't match.
According to a Reddit page dedicated to the trip we found via Jalopnik, Xue's Model 3 has been plagued with a host of problems along the way. The list is extensive, as one commenter pointed out. "Problems reported here in 3 days if I'm not wrong: 1. Air bag light. 2. Tire pressure sensor. 3. Charging lid. 4. Wipers knock. 5. Music system noises. 6. Service response malfunction. 7. Loud pop in back and warning light. 8. 12v plug not working. 9. Low quality wiper blades leaving strikes. 10. Time zone recognition. 11. Mistakes in charging rates calculation. And low quality 'upgraded' music system." And these aren't small gripes that can be brushed off either.
The "pop and warning light in the back" episode entailed a ride along where Xue and a guest "heard a very loud click coming from the back of the car." After that, Xue says, "the car then popped up with a warning showing that the car needed service, and that it 'may not restart.'" The warning only went away when Xue pressed on the brake. Comforting. Another issue seems to be the fact that multiple resets were needed after the screen interface got buggy while the Model 3 was charging. And then there's the time that the steering wheel controls unexpectedly stopped working. Hopefully Xue's problems are the exception and not the rule, but with such a small sample size to draw experience from, it's anyone's guess right now.