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Customers are interested in Model 3 in the new Bloomberg survey



  A truck full of Model 3 cars.
Enlarge / A truck full of Model 3 cars.

Impressive 99.6% of Tesla Model 3 customers describe the vehicle as a pleasure to drive, Melder Bloomberg in a new survey. The first three parts of Bloomberg's four-part survey have been published in recent days.

Bloomberg spoke to nearly 5,000 customers about their experience of owning Model 3. Many customers reported having specific problems with their cars ̵

1; minor manufacturing defects, long-awaited repairs, Tesla Autopilot software failure.

Some of these problems were related to the improvement of Model 3 production over the past two years. In 2018, Tesla struggled to produce Model 3 in volume and without errors. Recently, the company struggled to provide timely service as the number of Tesla cars on the road swelled.

Nevertheless, these experiences do not seem to have made a big impression on customers, which overwhelmingly gave the car manufacturer high marks. [19659007] Most customers believe Autopilot makes them safer

More than 90% of respondents asked Bloomberg that they believed Tesla's Autopilot technology made them safer. This despite some of the same drivers saying that the driver assistance system had put them in a dangerous situation.

"Autopilot saw an emergency brake event two cars ahead of me," a Texas Tesla owner told Bloomberg. Autopilot's radar is able to see "through" cars so it can apply the brakes before a human driver would have been able to.

However, sometimes Autopilot becomes overbearing. "The forward collision avoidance feature is very jarring with many false alarms," ​​a Virginia owner told Bloomberg. Such a false alarm caused almost a crash from the car behind.

Autopilot also makes more serious mistakes. "Navigating on Autopilot was trying to steer the car into a concrete wall along an exit ramp," a California owner wrote. "This happens in the same place several times." In 2018, another California Tesla owner, Walter Huang, died under similar circumstances. Federal investigators concluded that Autopilot steered the vehicle into a concrete field section.

But many owners also said that Autopilot had prevented crashes. "A deer jumped in front of me on a dark road at night. When my foot moved to the brake pedal, it was already pressed to the floor," a Colorado customer told Bloomberg.

Overall, 28% of drivers said Autopilot had saved them from a dangerous situation, more than twice the 13% who said Autopilot had put them in a dangerous situation.

Tesla owners were less positive about Smart Summon, Tesla's recently released driverless technology in parking lots. Seventy percent of Tesla owners said it was useful, while only 41% described it as safe enough for the average driver.

Improved Production Leads to Growing Pain in Service Centers

Bloomberg's data shows that Tesla has dramatically improved the quality of its vehicle production during 2019. Tesla's production problems peaked in February 2019, with just over 100 errors for every 100 Model 3 sold -vehicle. In September, the rate was down to 35 defects for every 100 sales.

While Tesla appears to have made progress in producing Model 3 on a scale, heavy sales have strained Tesla's network of repair centers. More than 20% of customers said they were dissatisfied with the timeliness of Tesla's repairs, and a similar number were dissatisfied with the repair size.

Elon Musk made improving the Tesla repair process a top priority in 2019, and the company has made some progress. The company moved parts from regional warehouses to repair centers, which meant less time spent waiting for needed parts. But a third of customers in the third quarter of 2019 reported that they had to wait 10 days or longer for a deal at a Tesla service center.

Bloomberg's data shows that on average it took about a month for a car to be repaired after a crash. It was an improvement in early 2018, when it took more than two months for the average customer to have a work car after a crash.

This is important because it is more difficult to find an independent mechanic qualified to operate Tesla's electric vehicle than a conventional gasoline-powered car.

One last bit of interesting data from the Bloomberg survey: Model 3's battery appears to maintain capacity better than previous models. All batteries have reduced capacity after many charging cycles. But Bloomberg's data shows that the average Model 3 loses only 2.5% of its rated capacity after 40,000 miles on the road. A typical Model S sold in 2014 lost more than 4% of charge after running the same distance.


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