Tesla was ranked the lowest of 32 brands in the 2020 J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey, thanks largely to build quality issues reported by owners.
This is the first time Tesla has been profiled in the survey, which grades automakers on the number of problems experienced per 100 new vehicles within the first 90 days of ownership. In a press release announcing the survey results, J.D. Power noted that it calculated Tesla's score somewhat differently.
"Unlike other manufacturers, Tesla doesn't grant us permission to survey its owners in 15 states where it is required," Doug Betts, president of J.D. Power's automotive division, said in a statement. "However, we were able to collect a large enough sample of surveys from owners in the other 35 states and, from that base, we calculated Tesla's score."
Tesla received a score of 205 problems per 100 vehicles, by far the highest among the brands surveyed. The next-worst performer was Land Rover.
Dodge and Kia tied for first place, at 136 problems per 100 vehicles, while the industry average was 166 reported problems.
Unlike other automakers, most of the complaints on Tesla related to build quality of exterior parts, not for infotainment, controls, or powertrain functionality.
The issues weren't with technology glitches, as they often are today. People seem to be happy with Tesla's tech. It works.
2020 Tesla Model S
2020 Tesla Model S
However, the survey results indicated Tesla is dealing with build quality problems most other automakers have solved.
While this is the first time Tesla has been included in the Initial Quality Survey, J.D. Power first noted quality issues in 2017. At the time, it said owners were willing to overlook faults because they viewed themselves as pioneering early adopters.
That report focused on the Model S and Model X, but early Model 3 quality was also spectacularly bad for a period, and social media accounts of Model Y delivery quality seems to be following this.
Reliability has been a roller coaster, too, as Consumer Reports' love-hate relationship with Tesla products has shown.
A shutdown of Tesla's Model 3 production as it changed the process seemed to help with quality issues, and Tesla also seems to have listened to critiques from industry analyst Sandy Munro, who highlighted Model 3 faults in a series of teardown videos.