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Some early owners of Tesla's Model 3 are reporting quality problems. Do buyers care?

Russ Mitchell, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Automotive News

Mark Schey of Morristown, N.J., stepped into his garage a few mornings ago eager to hop inside his shiny new car -- the much desired and currently rare Tesla Model 3 electric sedan. The one with the 15-inch touchscreen on the bare-bones dash.

He flashed his electronic key card to unlatch the door, but nothing happened. He tried the iPhone app, but that didn't work either.

There was no way to open the doors. There's not even a backup metal key.

Schey figured he'd need to jump the 12-volt battery needed to power the doors open from the outside. But the hood was locked shut, too.

It turns out there's a wafer-thin plastic cap flush with the front bumper covering a hole the size of a silver dollar. The Tesla technician sent to Schey's home reached his fingers in and pulled out two thin cables. He clamped the cables to a portable battery and switched on the juice. The hood popped open.

That's how you jump-start the most high-tech, cutting-edge automobile on the market today.

And Schey couldn't be happier.

"The Tesla service people were great," he said. "I see this as growing pains."

Whether there are tens of thousands of patient and forgiving customers like Schey or only a few early adopters who look at the Model 3 as a fussy but desirable new tech toy may determine how much leeway Tesla has as it struggles with snail's-pace production on its Fremont assembly line and faces early criticism over a variety of quality problems.

Tesla started making the Model 3 last July. Chief Executive Elon Musk at one time forecast the company would achieve a rate of 5,000 per week by the end of 2017, or 260,000 a year. From the car's introduction in July through December, however, only 2,685 Model 3s were manufactured.


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