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Auto Consultant Tears Down Tesla Model 3 and Compares it to a ‘Kia in the ’90s’

Tesla's latest entry into the EV market raises additional concerns over the automaker's quality control.

Tesla has been knocked for its build quality issues in the past with the Model S and Model X. Owners have complained about poor body panel fitment, orange peel paint, and other mechanical concerns that put one of its vehicles on the list Consumer Report’s least reliable cars in 2017. When it then placed a prediction on the Model 3, the automaker felt that there wasn’t enough information on the Model 3 for the concern to be valid. Now, Michigan-based automotive reverse engineering firm Munro & Associates has begun to tear down one of Tesla’s brand new cars and have some concerns of their own over quality.

Coming out of the depths of ‘production hell,’ it was a concern that the fast-paced production would affect quality, but despite Tesla ensuring the world that it had a hand on things, that may not be the case according to Sandy Munro, CEO of Munro & Associates. He recently gave a walkthrough of his immediate concerns surrounding the Model 3 and the results are somewhat concerning.

Munro’s first concerns were over safety. Tesla has released guides for emergency responders to understand just how to handle its cars in an accident, however, he still seems to have an issue with the complexity required for the safety of the emergency crews, as well as vehicle occupants. When seconds count and crews don’t have a safety guide on hand, they may be hesitant to just cut into the car with a fear of electrocuting themselves. Should the main power require a disconnect, the process to actually get to the battery may be too complex. If the crew can’t open the hood because of something in the car or lack of main power, it must be known that they need to first “jump” the car with a 12-volt source due to lack of a mechanical release. 

How to pop the hood on a Model 3 if inaccessible from the interior., via Tesla

Additionally, opening the door is not consistent between the front and rear; if there is a failure with the electronics, rear passengers cannot open the rear door due to the lack of mechanical release. In fact, Munro goes on to state that the plan to manually escape the car in the event of an emergency coupled with an electronics failure is to pull down the rear seat and use the manual trunk release. On top of that, should the jaws of life be necessary to rescue an occupant, the fire department would have needed to open the trunk, read a small panel indicating where to cut, and then be potentially perplexed because there doesn’t appear to be a clear place to cut into the support as described so that the occupant may be rescued.

“I’m certain that lawyers are going to have a field day with this kind of stuff,” Munro goes on to say.

More interior concerns fall back on how Tesla appears to have just stuck additional material in the doors to prevent noises when opening and closing. Munro describes the placement as an “afterthought” as it is simply glued in place. Despite this, you can still hear glass rattle when shutting the door.

Body gaps can be seen “for miles,” Munro disappointingly boasts, stating that the Model 3 simply falls under the same issues that we’ve seen with the Model S. Looking at the rear tail lights show inconsistencies with panel gap as well, one light having a gap tight enough to barely fit a fingernail in, while the other can accept an entire finger. The tolerances for the cars were shocking for the firm to witness, especially for a car manufacturer that is used to producing luxury cars. “I don’t understand how it got to this point,” he chuckles, “I mean, these are flaws we would see on a Kia in the ’90s”

Inconsistencies of body panel gap on the Tesla Model 3., via YouTube

Personally, the Model 3 has been a vehicle that I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. Tesla has been working hard to develop an all-electric vehicle that will be useful to the general consumer. Despite production woes and recovery, the automaker has promised to deliver a large number of vehicles in order to satisfy the overwhelming demand for its flagship “every man” automobile. But in order to uplift its reputation for quality, Tesla has to wow the industry leaders that set examples of any flaws which they find. Munro, although playing devil’s advocate, makes quite a few valid points regarding his concerns over the Model 3, especially since some of them (like body panel gap) has been beaten to death since the Model S.

“This is very, very unusual for a car[maker] that is used to producing luxury vehicles,” says Munro, “I can’t imagine how they released this. It’s just a really big surprise to me.”