Tesla Owners Love Their Cars, Despite Many Flaws

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Flaws, mechanical problems and software glitches have little influence on whether Tesla owners love their cars. That is what new data from highly regarded research firm J.D. Power says.

Owners of Tesla Inc.’s (NASDAQ: TSLA) cars view themselves as in the vanguard of global automotive technology, and even given that the company’s cars are very expensive by most standards, price does not faze them either.

In a J.D. Power report titled “Tesla: Beyond the Hype,” author Kathleen Rizk, director of global automotive consulting, said:

Tesla owners see themselves as pioneers who enjoy being early adopters of new technology. Spending $100,000 or more on a vehicle that has so many problems usually would have a dramatically negative effect on sales and brand perception. Right now, though, Tesla seems immune from such disenchanted customers.

J.D. Power pointed to one of its earlier studies that is a staple of car research. Its Initial Quality Study (IQS) and the Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study covers quality among newly purchased cars, fuel economy, technology that included in particular software, and safety features. In the most recent APEAL Study, many of those researched complained about complex navigation and infotainment systems. Porsche ranked highest in the latest 2016 APEAL Study, followed by BMW and Jaguar. Smart and Fiat were at the bottom of the list. Tesla owners did not represent enough of a sample that the car could be included. However, J.D. Power said the survey provided it with “directional data.”

In another major car survey done by Consumer Reports, Tesla earned the grade as the top brand, as it pushed out Porsche for the top spot.

J.D. Power expects that Tesla will face higher quality hurdles with its new Model 3. Rizk said:

When consumers buy a mass-market car priced around $35,000 that will be their primary mode of transportation, the degree of expectation will increase immensely. We’ve seen that with other well-liked brands, whether or not it involves an electric vehicle.

And the Model 3 already has competition, led for the time being by General Motors Co.’s (NYSE: GM) Chevy Bolt.

In the meantime, Tesla’s more expensive models appear to be beyond criticism with most owners, in the majority of cases.

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