Tag Archives: Consumer Reports

TeslaMondo buys a time machine, a driving machine and a smile machine — all in one

image“Driving Matters.” That’s Mazda’s newest tagline. Unfortunately, it won’t matter much longer. With this in mind, TeslaMondo just bought a 2000 MR2 Spyder. This 9/10 scale Boxster embodies Toyota’s closest brush with insanity. Or consider it the closest you can get to a Lotus Elise without the blue smoke. A Tesla Roadster is the next-closest, sharing some Lotus DNA and all, but it’s too expensive.

This Mister Two is grandfathered in from another era. Maybe great-grandfathered in. It doesn’t have Autopilot or emergency braking, or blind spot monitoring, or a rear camera, or sonar. It doesn’t even have a limited slip differential, or stability control. Or a USB port, or Bluetooth. But it does have perfect weight distribution, perfectly flat cornering, perfect torque curve, perfect harmony of clutch/shifter/throttle, perfectly optimistic attitude and a cassette player. Of course, you must leave your cassette in the player at all times, because there’s nowhere else to put it. The engine hogs the trunk, the spare tire hogs the frunk and the jack toolbag hogs 1/4 of the cubby behind the seats.

When car and driver suffer their inevitable divorce in a few years, making the world a safer, quieter and greener place, this dirty little deathbox will live on at TelaMondo’s headquarters, the cost offset by a well-timed sale and re-purchase of some TSLA shares. The sale came within minutes of the Consumer Reports snub, and the re-purchase a few days later. TeslaMondo does not advocate market timing, except in hindsight.

Speaking of Consumer Reports, it did recommend the Spyder over the Miata and the BMW Z3, so this midship runabout has a perfectly sober rationale buried somewhere in your local library’s magazine archives, probably rubbing shoulders with an in-depth review of personal digital assistants.

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Consumer Reports should tone it down

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“Sport? Nope. Insane! YEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!”

Cold, sterile praise — the usual Consumer Reports modus for a superior product — would have lauded Tesla just fine with no backlash. But CR instead humped the P85D, became a sweaty, grunting Howard Dean, and spilled its seed.

Tisk tisk. No matter how awesome the car, CR, you must keep your poker face on. Passion in the wrong measure means either you’ve gone off the deep end, or you’re trying to sell something.

The WSJ is going with the latter theory. It accuses CR of colluding with Tesla in a larger agenda to boost EVs. And lesser publications are microwaving the WSJ piece and serving it again.

This is not CR’s finest hour. By overdoing the praise for the Model S, it has invited scrutiny. This won’t kill CR the way it killed Dean, but it’s a valid lesson about keeping it in your pants. The morning after can get ugly. TeslaMondo saw signs of odd giddiness on the part of CR staffers when they first tried the D. Perhaps Tesla should have called it the LSD. It seems to cause similar life-altering epiphanies.

Irony: For many years — all through the 80s and 90s — CR was constantly accused of having anti-American bias. Then again, who didn’t have an anti-American bias? Detroit was stinking up the joint.

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Broke another restraint, did ja?

Tesla in Manhattan TeslaMondoTesla has now broken:

  1. The mold for electric vehicles.
  2. The century-old franchise system.
  3. A roof strength-testing machine.
  4. A dynamometer.
  5. The NHTSA crash test scoring system.
  6. The Consumer Reports rating system.

TeslaMondo went silent for a few days this week while vacationing in Manhattan. Got an interesting pic, anyway.


Consumer Reports: Model S again tops

For the second consecutive year, Consumer Reports says the Model S is the best car you can buy. For a renegade, maverick, rogue, wild ‘n crazy automaker to get such kudos from a the most buttoned-up of publications is very comforting. It means the most sober of product reviewers, and the driest of consumer surveys, — consider them “ground control” to Elon’s Major Tom — have again determined that Tesla really does, in the most scientific sense possible, kick ass.

There really was a better mousetrap waiting to be built all along. All it took was some first-principles reasoning to give it life.

Investors are still struggling to think positive, however, because of yesterday’s headlines. Merrill Lynch, a Tesla contrarian that has totally missed the boat, re-affirmed its yucky $65 price target on TSLA. It declared that consumer demand for Tesla’s products is waning despite ostensible data and Tesla’s own statements about supply constraint. TeslaMondo avoids boring data debates and instead looks at the big picture. And the big picture reveals daily headlines about other automakers, and now even Apple, trying to get a piece of Tesla’s action. Merrill Lynch would have us believe there’s no action to be had. Hey, gotta respect contrarians. Elon is one of them.


Consumer Reports: Model S improving

Consumer Reports Model S TeslaMondoReliability still ranks as “average,” with fickle door handles, latches and locks, and squeaks and rattles peppering results for the 2012 and some motor gremlins affecting 2013 and triggering a broad warranty upgrade by Tesla.

Average reliability puts the Model S on a tier “far better” than the flagship offerings from Benz and Caddy, the poster children from automakers with MORE THAN A CENTURY OF PRACTICE. Also, the Model S is steadily improving, says CR. And they’re not just talking about the software and firmware updates. Newer models show better reliability data. Click image to view video.

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Consumer Reports: Car dealers botch EVs

Bill Murray in StripesTesla isn’t so crazy after all. Dealerships really do bungle EV sales, Consumer Reports has found after an undercover investigation. Speaking from 16 years’ experience on the sales floor, here are the issues at play when a newfangled product — electric or otherwise — hits the showroom:

  • Sometimes the vehicle arrives before training begins in earnest. So the earliest adopters get the shortest shrift.
  • High turnover at dealerships requires training anew every few months. Not going to happen, folks.
  • Salespeople want the fastest route to a sale, especially during peak periods (weekends). Selling is quick. Educating is not, especially when you aren’t fully educated.
  • When it’s time for the customer to pick up the vehicle, well that’s a whole ‘nother problem. You’re supposed to get into even more detail.
  • And then the phone rings. Customer has follow-up questions you can’t answer.
  • And then the customer satisfaction survey comes. This affects your bonus every month. One bad survey could cost you and your manager hundreds in manufacturer and dealer bonuses, negating any commission you made on the sale and then some.

Ergo, you avoid early adopters when humanly possible. That’s the fact, Jack.

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