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Tesla Model 3 loses Consumer Reports recommendation over ‘reliability problems’

Posted by on Feb 21, 2019 in Automotive, Cars, consumer reports, Elon Musk, paint, satisfaction, TC, Tesla, tesla model 3, Tesla Model S, Tesla Model x, tesla roadster, Transportation | 0 comments

Consumer Reports has placed the Tesla Model 3 into that fun-to-drive, terribly unreliable category where brands like Alfa Romeo, Land Rover and Maserati also live.

Consumer Reports, which has a complicated relationship with Tesla, says it can no longer recommend the Model 3 because issues with the paint, trim and body hardware raises reliability questions. CR members reported the results in an annual reliability survey that includes data on about 470,000 vehicles.

The report caused Tesla shares to fall more than 2.7%.

The Model 3 is arguably Tesla’s most important vehicle. Tesla’s survival hinges on Model 3. It’s no longer just about being able to produce and deliver the vehicle cost effectively — although those are biggies. If more consumers turn to other electric vehicles, the sales momentum that helped Tesla have two consecutive quarters of profits could falter.

Owners appear to like, even love, the Model 3. It received top marks in CR’s recent owner satisfaction survey and also earned a positive road-test score. It’s a weird duality — and one the even CR acknowledges — that other aspirational, lifestyle and luxury vehicles share. Owners love the vehicles, despite persistent issues with the components inside them.

“While Teslas perform well in Consumer Reports’ road tests and have excellent owner satisfaction, their reliability has not been consistent, according to our members, which has resulted in changes to their recommended status,” Jake Fisher, senior director of auto testing at Consumer Reports, said in statement.

Tesla has asked Consumer Reports for more details about the issues customers reported. According to Tesla, CR said they had no more specific information to share. (See update below)

“Not only are our cars the safest and best performing vehicles available today, but we take feedback from our customers very seriously and quickly implement improvements any time we hear about issues,” a Tesla spokeswoman said in an emailed statement. “That’s just one of the reasons why, in this very same survey from Consumer Reports, Model 3 was rated as the #1 most satisfying car, and why Tesla vehicles have topped Consumer Reports’ Owner Satisfaction survey every year since 2013 – the first year Tesla was included in it.”

CR provided TechCrunch the email exchange with Tesla, which shows that the consumer advocacy organization answered many of the automaker’s questions. Tesla asked for details on when the survey was conducted, some of the methodology, the number of Tesla Model 3 owners who responded to the survey and for more detail on customer complaints about the trim, windows, and door handles.

The total sample size was nearly 500 Model 3s, according to CR. “Among 2018 model vehicles, the number we have for the Model 3 is far more than many vehicles we receive data for,” CR wrote in the email. “All of the data used for our prediction was from 2018 models. We had insufficient data on 2017 vehicles to make a judgment.”

CR told TechCrunch that typical sample sizes are between 200 to 300 vehicles.

CR didn’t provide Tesla with detailed information about the complaints on the door latches. On the windows, CR wrote: “Members reported problems about the windows, including glass defects. One customer commented about the “rear window developed stress cracks after delivery.”

The question of reliability has persisted for all of Tesla’s vehicles. CR doesn’t recommend the Model X or Model S either due to reliability issues. The Tesla Model X was included in CR’s top 10 least reliable vehicles list for 2019.

The CR survey revealed problems with the suspension, particularly in the 2017 Model S and hardware issues in the Model X. Owners in the survey cited numerous reliability problems with the Model 3.

Tesla noted that it has made “significant improvements” to correct any issues that Model 3 customers may have experienced that are referenced in this report. The automaker also cited that its return policy allows any customer who is unhappy with their car to return it for a full refund.

“This new data from Consumer Reports comes from their annual Owner Satisfaction survey, which runs from July through September, so the vast majority of these issues have already been corrected through design and manufacturing improvements, and we are already seeing a significant improvement in our field data,” the spokesperson said.

Tesla has the capability, which it uses often, to roll out software updates to fix bugs, improve performance, and treat customers to fun surprises. Paint and trim issues are a different matter, of course.

And despite this ability to fix and improve the vehicle over time, the CR reliability survey might be enough to turn potential customers away from Tesla and towards another electric vehicle brand.

It’s possible that Tesla’s fan base is strong enough to keep the sales momentum. Plenty of other brands and models, have a fervent following despite problems with the vehicle.

“In most cases, reliability issues will undermine satisfaction,” Fisher said. “But when a vehicle has an enthusiastic following, like with Tesla, owners may overlook some issues. We’ve seen this with other vehicles such as the Jeep Wrangler and Chevrolet Corvette.”


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Startups Weekly: Spotify gets acquisitive and Instacart screws up

Posted by on Feb 9, 2019 in alex wilhelm, anchor, Bessemer Venture Partners, consumer reports, CrunchBase, funding, Fundings & Exits, Fusion Fund, gimlet, gimlet media, Instacart, josh constine, lime, Mark Suster, Megan Rose Dickey, Mike McNamara, Reddit, Sanjay Jha, Spotify, Startups, steve huffman, TC, Uber, upfront ventures, Venture Capital, web summit, Y Combinator | 0 comments

Did anyone else listen to season one of StartUp, Alex Blumberg’s OG Gimlet podcast? I did, and I felt like a proud mom this week reading stories of the major, first-of-its-kind Spotify acquisition of his podcast production company, Gimlet. Spotify also bought Anchor, a podcast monetization platform, signaling a new era for the podcasting industry.

On top of that, Himalaya Media, a free podcast app I’d never heard of until this week, raised a whopping $100 million in venture capital funding to “establish itself as a new force in the podcast distribution space,” per Variety.

The podcasting business definitely took center stage, but Lime and Bird made headlines, as usual, a new unicorn emerged in the mental health space and Instacart, it turns out, has been screwing its independent contractors.

As mentioned, Spotify, or shall we say Spodify, gobbled up Gimlet and Anchor. More on that here and a full analysis of the deal here. Key takeaway: it’s the dawn of podcasting; expect a whole lot more venture investment and M&A activity in the next few years.

This week’s biggest “yikes” moment was when reports emerged that Instacart was offsetting its wages with tips from customers. An independent contractor has filed a class-action lawsuit against the food delivery business, claiming it “intentionally and maliciously misappropriated gratuities in order to pay plaintiff’s wages even though Instacart maintained that 100 percent of customer tips went directly to shoppers.” TechCrunch’s Megan Rose Dickey has the full story here, as well as Instacart CEO’s apology here.

Slack confidentially filed to go public this week, its first public step toward either an IPO or a direct listing. If it chooses the latter, like Spotify did in 2018, it won’t issue any new shares. Instead, it will sell existing shares held by insiders, employees and investors, a move that will allow it to bypass a roadshow and some of Wall Street’s exorbitant IPO fees. Postmates confidentially filed, too. The 8-year-old company has tapped JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America to lead its upcoming float.

Reddit CEO Steve Huffman delivers remarks on “Redesigning Reddit” during the third day of Web Summit in Altice Arena on November 08, 2017 in Lisbon, Portugal. (Horacio Villalobos-Corbis/Contributor)

It was particularly tough to decide which deal was the most notable this week… But the winner is Reddit, the online platform for chit-chatting about niche topics — r/ProgMetal if you’re Crunchbase editor Alex Wilhelm . The company is raising up to $300 million at a $3 billion valuation, according to TechCrunch’s Josh Constine. Reddit has been around since 2005 and has raised a total of $250 million in equity funding. The forthcoming Series D round is said to be led by Chinese tech giant Tencent at a $2.7 billion pre-money valuation.

Runner up for deal of the week is Calm, the app that helps users reduce anxiety, sleep better and feel happier. The startup brought in an $88 million Series B at a $1 billion valuation. With 40 million downloads worldwide and more than one million paying subscribers, the company says it quadrupled revenue in 2018 from $20 million to $80 million and is now profitable — not a word you hear every day in Silicon Valley.

Here’s your weekly reminder to send me tips, suggestions and more to kate.clark@techcrunch.com or @KateClarkTweets

I listened to the Bird CEO’s chat with Upfront Ventures’ Mark Suster last week and wrote down some key takeaways, including the challenges of seasonality and safety in the scooter business. I also wrote about an investigation by Consumer Reports that found electric scooters to be the cause of more than 1,500 accidents in the U.S. I’m also required to mention that e-scooter unicorn Lime finally closed its highly anticipated round at a $2.4 billion valuation. The news came just a few days after the company beefed up its executive team with a CTO and CMO hire.

Databricks raises $250M at a $2.75B valuation for its analytics platform
Retail technology platform Relex raises $200M from TCV
Raisin raises $114M for its pan-European marketplace for savings and investment products
Self-driving truck startup Ike raises $52M
Signal Sciences secures $35M to protect web apps
Ritual raises $25M for its subscription-based women’s daily vitamin
Little Spoon gets $7M for its organic baby food delivery service
By Humankind picks up $4M to rid your morning routine of single-use plastic

We don’t spend a ton of time talking about the growing, venture-funded, tech-enabled logistics sector, but one startup in the space garnered significant attention this week. Turvo poached three key Uber Freight employees, including two of the unit’s co-founders. What’s that mean for Uber Freight? Well, probably not a ton… Based on my conversation with Turvo’s newest employees, Uber Freight is a rocket ship waiting to take off.

Who knew that investing in female-focused brands could turn a profit for investors? Just kidding, I knew that and this week I have even more proof! This is L., a direct-to-consumer, subscription-based retailer of pads, tampons and condoms made with organic materials sold to P&G for $100 million. The company, founded by Talia Frenkel, launched out of Y Combinator in August 2015. According to PitchBook, it was backed by Halogen Ventures, 500 Startups, Fusion Fund and a few others.

Speaking of ladies getting stuff done, Bessemer Venture Partners promoted Talia Goldberg to partner this week, making the 28-year-old one of the youngest investing partners at the Silicon Valley venture fund. Plus, Palo Alto’s Eclipse Ventures, hot off the heels of a $500 million fundraise, added two general partners: former Flex CEO Mike McNamara and former Global Foundries CEO Sanjay Jha.

If you enjoy this newsletter, be sure to check out TechCrunch’s venture-focused podcast, Equity. In this week’s episode, available here, Crunchbase editor-in-chief Alex Wilhelm and I chat about the expanding podcast industry, Reddit’s big round and scooter accidents.

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Source: The Tech Crunch

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