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Tesla’s New Model Y Grapples with Quality Issues

Accelerated launch schedule has reaped supply, production issues
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Every new model launch brings at least a few production glitches. But Tesla appears to be having an unusually difficult time with its new Model Y crossover.

The EV blog Electrek reports that some buyers have been refusing to take delivery of flawed cars and that others have had delivery dates delayed by Tesla because of quality issues.

Tesla’s Model Y crossover  (Image: Tesla)

Customers are reporting such problems as loose seatbelts, dented upholstery, fit and trim issues and misassembled back seats.

Big Deal or Not?

Tesla enthusiasts shrug off the snags as typical startup issues. But CEO Elon Musk drew attention to the situation last week in an internal email.

“It is extremely important for us to ramp up Model Y production and minimize rectification needs (meaning post-production repairs),” Musk told employees. He added that he will be visiting the plant floor to walk the line for at least the next several weeks.

Why Tesla has been delivering cars with obvious flaws isn’t clear. But analysts note that the Model Y began production shortly before the company’s home plant in Fremont, Calif., begrudgingly complied with an order to suspend output because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stepped-Up Launch

The Model Y originally wasn’t scheduled to debut until autumn. But the car was rushed into production after Tesla accelerated parts orders to suppliers in China. Musk acknowledges that the model has been troubled by supply chain and manufacturing challenges.

Any production hiccup is big news at Tesla, which is notorious for failing to meet its own manufacturing targets. The company also routinely goes into overdrive at the end of each quarter to pump up its output numbers.

Last year, Musk conceded that the company’s California factory went through “production hell” during its often-delayed launch of the Model 3 sedan, now the company’s best-selling car.

Most of those problems were supposed to be avoided with the Model Y, which shares its platform with the Model 3. But pushing up the launch date may have introduced other problems.

Best-Seller, Eventually

Musk has predicted that the coupe-like Y eventually will become the company’s most popular model.

That milestone is likely to be reached sometime after Model Y production begins at Tesla’s 6-month-old Model 3 factory in Shanghai later this year, startup glitches or not.

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