The Success and Glitches of the Model S


According to the New York Times, the Tesla Model S is a ‘game-changer, comparable to the Model T Ford.’ The vehicle from the Silicon Valley start up has won every 2012 ‘Car of the Year’ award from every conceivable award giving entity, including a unanimous vote from Motor Trend, the first of its kind in the car magazine’s history.

For its part, Tesla is not resting on its laurels, with its new brand spanking facility in California working at full capacity, the company is set to complete its 20,000 order backlog sooner than expected.

It has not been smooth sailing though for the company. There are a still a number of growing pains for a start-up building a car from the ground up using a refurbished production line. While, for a normal internal combustion car glitches can be overlooked, the Model S is not your ordinary vehicle, with much of its design and building under the microscope from start to finish.

Here are just some of the technical issues reported on the Model S:

  • Self-opening locked doors. Some Model S owners reported that they had incidents wherein locked cars suddenly opening, with one even reporting the door ajar. Oftentimes, this occurs after manual remote locking with the FOB key and in the ‘walkaway’ automatic lock mode. In this mode, the car automatically locks itself when it senses the key FOB is away at a distance.
  • Sticking Sunroof. Some Model S owners have reported that the sunroof was difficult in opening, especially when it is controlled remotely with the touch screen. This may either be a mechanical issue.
  • Software Glitches. There is a Model S software update version 4.1 providing for a ‘sleep mode’ to reduce power consumption during non-use or at shut down. There have been a number of reports regarding bugs and glitches, such as panoramic roof, door handles, locking, displays and controls that operate when powering up the Model S. While rebooting the software does away with the glitches, there are some owners reporting daily need for rebooting to address these glitches. Tesla is addressing the issue with a 4.2 software version.
  • Fogged Windshields. Many Model S owners reported poor defroster/defogger functionality during cold or humid conditions. This has been addressed though with a new vent design and retrofit kits are being made available and installation takes an hour.
  • Charge Port Door Malfunction. The charge port door is part of the taillight and in some instances, it does not open properly or close correctly. In some instances, there have been malfunctions on its locking and even jamming of the charge cord. Tesla is addressing the issue.

While these are issues that affect only a few, a greater majority is not suffering any issues or probably some are just accepting the vehicle’s idiosyncrasies.