Model 3 Reservation Holder Survey Underlines Tesla’s Mass Market Challenge


They waited for reservations… will they also wait for service? (image courtesy Investors Business Daily)

Much of the critical coverage of Tesla Motors, both here at Daily Kanban and elsewhere, has focused on issues that Tesla is able to get away with as a small-volume manufacturer serving an affluent, early-adopter market segment. From manufacturing bottlenecks to quality control problems, from inconsistent, hype-happy communication to poor service, Tesla has been able to weather a storm of problems because its customers and fans are so patient with and passionate about the company. But as Tesla moves from expensive, low-volume cars to the mass market Model 3 these problems are taking on a new significance. In part this is because higher volumes increase the likelihood of quality and service problems, and in part it is because mass market customers who depend on a single car for their daily routine are more demanding than luxury car buyers who can always take the Lexus to work if their Tesla is broken.

Given Tesla’s pattern of releasing cars with insufficient testing as well as its chronic quality problems, it’s safe to assume that the Model 3 will face its fair share of issues. Thus, investing in service infrastructure that will allow Tesla to promptly and affordably repair and upgrade high volumes of Model 3 is extremely important. As Bertel has written about at Forbes, Tesla is behind the curve on those investments and it will cost billions to catch them up. Just yesterday a piece by former Tesla employee Evan Niu dramatically illustrated just how far Tesla has to go to improve its service time, which has dragged on for 8 long months in Niu’s case. Now an exclusive study of about 800 Tesla Model 3 reservation holders, EV owners and luxury brand car owners conducted last year on behalf of a major automaker and provided to Daily Kanban by an industry source, reveals why Tesla’s quality and service woes are so critical to the success or failure of the Model 3.

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Toyota’s Mirai Brings Hydrogen Technology Back Into Focus

The fuel of the future finally has a future.

The fuel of the future finally has a future.

For more than 30 years, a joke has circulated in automotive circles that hydrogen fuel cells are the future of the car… and always will be. Nearly every automaker has flirted with the technology at some point since the 1980s, either in their concept cars, demonstrator fleets or semi-secretive tests without ever coming close to actually offering a hydrogen-powered car to consumers.
That all changed this week, when the 800 pound gorilla of the auto industry, Toyota, released the first fuel cell vehicle (FCV) available for sale to consumers. Though this pioneering vehicle faces undeniable challenges, mainly a nascent hydrogen refueling infrastructure that is initially limiting Toyota’s FCV effort to targeted markets, there can be no doubt but that the Japanese automaker is fully committed to aggressively pursuing fuel cell technology. The proof is in the very name of the new car: Mirai, Japanese for The Future.

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Carlos Ghosn: Due to the late arrival of infrastructure, there will be a slight delay in the success of the EV. Fuel cell cars remain grounded

Ghosn close - Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt

tmsbannerNissan’s and Renault’s co-CEO Carlos Ghosn famously (and some claim recklessly) projected 1.5 million electric vehicles to be sold between Nissan and Renault when 2016 rolls around.

“Was that optimistic? Obviously it was,” Ghosn granted at the Tokyo Motor Show. Nissan and Renault combined have so sold 120,000 electric vehicles. Nevertheless, Ghosn maintains the 1.5 million target, just not by 2016. [Continue Reading]