To some extent, the poor assembly quality of Tesla’s cars shouldn’t surprise anyone by now

We’ve seen countless videos where new owners complain about the built quality of their new Tesla cars.

Besides the now-fixed Model 3 braking problems acknowledged by Elon Musk back in 2018, there have been recent reports (mostly captured on video, too) of poorly assembled bits and bobs for the Model 3, Model X, and Model Y.

In this regard, J.D. Power’s 2020 U.S. Initial Quality Study comes to confirm what we already knew.

Debunking Tesla’s 250 PP100 Score

Uh-Oh: Tesla Makes the Worst-Built Cars in the U.S., J.D. Power Finds Exterior
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In case you’re not familiar with how J.D. Power conducts its car reliability studies, here’s the mechanism. What J.D. Power basically does is interview owners for any car problems that popped-up during the first 90 days of ownerships. Of course, the cars in question must bought while new.

The initial quality study is based on the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles. So, a lower score means a better reliability record for a given model.

2017 Tesla Model S
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For 2020, J.D. Power looked at Tesla for the first time ever and the carmaker received a 250 PP100 score. That means 250 issues per 100 cars. However, the study doesn’t rank Tesla because the manufacturer doesn’t meet ranking criteria. Here’s how J.D. Power’s president of automotive division Doug Betts explains this:

“Unlike other manufacturers, Tesla doesn’t grant us permission to survey its owners in 15 states where it is required. 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.”
Uh-Oh: Tesla Makes the Worst-Built Cars in the U.S., J.D. Power Finds
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Who are the winners, then?

2018 Kia Stinger Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Could go hybrid in the future

Dodge and Kia, at a perfect tie of 136 problems per 100 cars (136 PP100). This makes it the sixth year in a row for Kia at the very top of the reliability ranking. In a way, we could argue that Kia is the new Lexus.

The third and fourth places were taken by Chevrolet and Ram (both brands scored 141 PP100). Genesis (142 PP100) came in fifth, a performance that makes it the best-ranked premium brand for the fourth time over the past four years.

Who still needs to improve?

2021 Audi A3 Sedan Exterior
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2021 Audi A3 Sedan

The last three carmakers in the rankings are Volvo (210 PP100), Audi (225 PP100), and Land Rover (228 PP100). To put things into perspective, the industry average for 2020 was 166 PP100, and there are a lot of big names under this threshold, besides the three names mentioned above: BMW (176 PP100), Porsche (186 PP100), Jaguar (190 PP100), and Mercedes-Benz (202 PP100).

Uh-Oh: Tesla Makes the Worst-Built Cars in the U.S., J.D. Power Finds
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Tudor Rus
Assistant Content Manager - Automotive Expert - tudor@topspeed.com
Tudor’s first encounter with cars took place when he was only a child. Back then, his father brought home a Trabant 601 Kombi and a few years later, a Wartburg 353. At that time, he was too young to know how they worked and way too young to drive them, but he could see one thing – each of them had a different ethos and their own unique personality. As time went on, he started seeing that in other cars as well, and his love for the automobile was born.  Read More
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