Tesla Model S grille

Tesla calls reliability survey ‘statistically meaningless’


Tesla has responded to news its Model S has come bottom of a major 2018 car reliability survey – by calling the results ‘statistically meaningless’. What Car?, which carried out the survey, has since countered Tesla’s claim (see below), arguing its survey was “more than representative of Tesla’s real-world presence”.

The What Car? reader reliability survey allows owners to contribute their experiences with their cars for a wider collation of consumer experience. This year, more than 18,000 motorists responded.

The long-serving Model S was by far the worst performer, with a reliability rating of just 50.9 percent. The next ‘worst’ car above the bottom-rung Tesla was the Range Rover, at 67.3 percent. That’s 16.4 percentage points above the Model S.

Tesla Model S

‘This survey is statistically meaningless’

Only 28 Model S owners responded out of a total of 18,000 car owners surveyed by What Car?” said a Tesla spokesperson. “That’s less than 0.3 percent of UK Tesla owners, so this survey is statistically meaningless.

The results of this survey are also at odds not only with our internal figures showing customer satisfaction scores for Model S and X at well over 90 percent, but with statistically valid surveys like our Net Promotor Score and Consumer Reports customer satisfaction survey, which we’ve topped every year since 2013.

90% of Tesla owners saying they would buy the same car again – more than any other brand.

Tesla Model S grille

We are committed to making the world’s best cars, and in order to ensure the highest quality, we review every vehicle for even the smallest refinement before it leaves the factory.

To the extent repairs are needed, the majority of work carried out on cars up to 4 years old is done under warranty and free of charge to the customer while they are supplied with a courtesy car.

Unlike other manufacturers, Tesla repairs can also be carried out in a customer’s driveway or office by mobile service, or even via over-the-air updates, to minimise any disruption.”


The Motoring Research view

That such a small portion of the UK Tesla customer base took part in the survey is interesting. Technically, it’s not very telling of the experiences of all UK Tesla owners.

That said, what could have prompted such a poor score from this small cross section? Do they have a grudge to bear? Would the result have been echoed by other owners?

What we can note is that this isn’t Tesla’s first disappointing performance in the survey. The marque came 30th out of 32 in the reliability by marque survey last year, at 52.4 percent.

What constitutes “unreliable” is an interesting question too. Where a conventional-fuel car developing a misfire would be considered a problem, so too could a screen freeze and forced reboot on a Model S. Concerning results and burning questions – that’s what we take from all of this.

Update: What Car? responds

What Car? has responded to Tesla’s statement. “Tesla owners represented 0.19 percent of what was a very robust total sample of 18,000 UK car owners in the What Car? survey,” said the motoring magazine.

“Compared with Tesla’s actual UK market share of 0.11 percent (according to official figures obtained from the DVLA), this means that the What Car? Study was more than representative of Tesla’s real-world presence in the British car parc.

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