Drive Unit IV: The Milling - 2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test
Edmunds.com Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 10,315
edited July 2014 in Tesla
Drive Unit IV: The Milling - 2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test
A strange sound leads to another drive unit replacement.
I have high hopes for Tesla, but the fact is your experience with the car is not unique. Tesla fanboys will blow off all of these issues but for me, this car is just not ready for prime time. I don't consider this car a competitior to the established luxury brands due to it's many issues. Honestly, the Leaf is simply better executed. Hopefully Tesla can survive long enough to build better cars, but this LT test shows Teslas are clearly an aquired taste.
A single sample is not a basis to judge an entire car company. Consumer reports, one of the few sources for actual statistical data gave the Model S an average reliability score. JD Power named it the best vehicle overall in total quality.
Replacing the drive unit is not the same as an engine swap. The car was out of service for just 1.5 days, which appears to include the time to get another drive unit from a different dealer.
Tesla's double speak about cheap maintenance followed by a $600 yearly service that doesn't seem to actually do anything is worrysome, but not much different than maintenance on any other $100k car.
Wow, that IS a lot of service. Granted, its nearly all been covered under warranty but I do have to wonder if Average-Joe gets the same treatment. In terms of Consumer Reports, they gave the 2012 "Excellent" reliability, the 2013 "Fair" and new car "Average". My hope is to see the "Excellent" status in a few years. The good thing about software updates is that they can be updated remotely and so a car purchased today should have fewer "bugs" compared with earlier versions. Compare that with normal vehicles where if there's an issue then better luck next time.
It bears repeating. PLEASE keep this vehicle longer. These issues are EXACTLY why you need to keep it and see how it fares over time. You can sell it once the Model X arrives.
" I posited that Tesla owners wouldn't be scared off by all the repairs, since they were early adopters who were essentially beta-testing the car. "
Hmmm....did you really ASK Tesla owners if that's how they felt? Personally, if I were writing a check for just south of $100K, I wouldn't have done so if I thought I was going to be a volunteer beta-tester.
How fitting to read about this today, because my Model S finally succumbed to the dreaded drive unit failure yesterday. I guess making it 18,000 miles on the first one was a minor miracle. As with you guys, the car was only out of service for a day and the new unit cost me nothing. Also, my Tesla service center was very accommodating and pleasing to work with as usual. Still, I definitely won't be buying another Tesla product until they get their quality under control. I am rooting for them hard and the car is truly fantastic, but I just don't have time to go to the Tesla service center multiple times a month. From the beginning I knew I was signing on to be a Beta tester, but I hadn't fully appreciated just what that would mean.
They point here is that Tesla is not an experienced automaker. As such, there is going to be a noticeable learning curve. What differentiates Tesla from the established automakers is that they’re taking the time to investigate problems and devise effective solutions, which bodes well for their future vehicles’ reliability and the reputation of their company. I like that. If they can keep it up, I will be a future Tesla owner.
Darn you, ineffective spell-check, no edit button, and my own lazy proofreading! They = The
I'm not so sure that the history of the automobile industry supports that method of doing business. The reason the Japanese gained such an enormous and rapid hold on market share in the USA was that they "did their homework" before introducing new models. Sure, now and then they had some glitches (Mazda rotary, for instance, the crude early Subarus, etc) but by and large people bought these cars with a certain confidence.
If early adapters like mercedesfan are discouraged from a repeat performance, who is left in this slim niche market?
I wouldn't give ya ten scents for that thing.
Not interested in driving around an experiment.
The question is how many Model S owners have had their drive unit fail. This inventory would help determine whether it is a problem with the P85 model or all Model S cars.
I imagine the resale value of these cars will take a major hit. What happens when your drive unit fails and you are out of warranty? What does one of those cost?
Except, it is multiple samples of a single part. Unless something specific about this car is triggering the problems with the drive unit it would indicate an ongoing problem with the drive unit that they have had multiple ones fail.
I too am an early adopter. I've had my Tesla Roadster for over 5 years now and my Model S for over 18 months. I agree that Tesla is still in start-up mode and is going through the teething process of how to build a new car. But, unlike other established auto manufacturers that are issuing recall after recall for problems that are killing people, Tesla is just fixing non-critical issues. With their free valet service they come to your home or office and pick up your car and drop off a loaner. No inconvenience of driving to them. Like Mr. Montoya suggests, Tesla is not different than Microsoft with the XBox. New technology takes time to get right and you can test it in a lab all you want but you won't find the issues until it gets in the hands of thousands of people who use it in environments you cannot test or even imagine.
Other's have suggested that Tesla isn't ready for prime-time. I would disagree. They have created a incredibly safe, fast, and technologically advanced car that competes with car companies that have been manufacturing automobiles for over 100 years. Is the Model S perfect, no. Is Tesla standing behind their product and going above and beyond to fix the problems and keep their customers happy, emphatically yes!
Prior to owning my Teslas I have owned Lexus', Mercedes', and a Mazda. None of those cars were perfect and the dealer experience with all of them (even Lexus) was sub-par compared with Tesla. I will happily have the whatever parts need to be replaced in my Model S done every month if needed. I am still driving a car that is safer and more fun than ANY other car on the road. Call me a Tesla true believer. I am. All it takes is owning one to understand.
I have to wonder how many drivers your Tesla has had over the last year, and what kind of use it has had. The average Tesla buyer will probably beat the crap out if it for the first month experiencing the fantastic performance of the car, then settle down to normal driving afterwards. Being that Edmund's Tesla is part of a test fleet of an automotive publication, I wonder if was constantly being "tested" by a number of different drivers, especially ones that knew that it wasn't their car, and there were no personal, out-of-pocket consequences of driving it rough. If I'm correct, then I would put Edmund's car in the same category as a rental or demo car and the problems experienced, especially the driveline ones, aren't typical of the average personally owned Tesla.
I hope you can hold on to the Tesla until the warranty expires, or until the Model X is delivered. I'd love to see how it continues to hold up after it's latest service.
Well dealer service IS a critical factor in success, I have to agree, but at the same time it is way more expensive to fix a car that's on the streets then it is to build it right in the first place.
It costs no more to assemble a car correctly than incorrectly.
If these teething problems are assembly issues, those are easily solved. If they are engineering issues, that's going to take a high burn rate and lots of capital to get right.
My biggest fear for Tesla is the same as what happened to IBM many years ago. IBM was merrily building their product, not suspecting that competitors were moving a large block of concrete over their heads, with a large knife ready to cut it and drop it on them.
Couple of observations:
No, replacing the drive unit on this car is NOT like replacing one in an ICE vehicle, but regardless of what Ron Montoya says about "only Tesla" knowing what one costs, a quick Google tells me that owners have been quoted prices of between $15,000 and $16,000 to replace a drive unit out of warranty. So even though the process is not the same, the costs of doing it out of warranty are uncomfortably close to what you would pay to have it done on an ICE vehicle. And that's what most people care about.
Side motor mount had a small crack in it. Is this maybe because that connection has been made and broken three times now, and when you start repeatedly doing that, the fasteners and associated parts start showing fatigue of this type? Same thing with the "broken logic connector" on the replacement drive unit. Because we know that is not a new drive unit, it's a remanufactured one. And those connectors are subject to the same stresses as the motor mount. This is not like mounting and dismounting a wheel/tire assembly on your car...as long as you don't cross-thread a lug, you could probably do it 50 times with no problem. These wiring connectors and motor mounts connections are not designed to be made and broken over and over again.
The first drive replacement was at almost exactly 10,000 miles, the second one at almost exactly 20,000 miles. I predicted a couple of months ago that it would happen again, as did a couple of other people. This third one started to fail at...almost exactly 30,000 miles. I think drcomputer said his failed at around 9,500 miles - (but hey - these are non-critical issues...just the powertrain...)? The Motor Trend LT Model S had its drive unit replaced at just over 13,500 miles, and now mercedesfan has said (correctly, I think) that his was kind of an outlier to last for 18,000. Read the Tesla forums - very similar experiences. You would have to be obtuse to not draw some level of statistical correlation about this problem. They even have a pet name for it at the service centers - the "milling sound." That's like the blue screen of death - a universally-known shorthand for an enormously common problem.
Ron Montoya, I don't think you are an apologist, but it's been acknowledged before now that this particular car has benefited from some level of VIP treatment at the service centers, and that seems to have happened again, what with all the "goodwill" work done on it. Also, you people at Edmunds have an entire fleet of long-term cars there. In addition to those, you folks also have your own personal vehicles. I don't think you view the prospect of having a car out of service the way the average owner does, and even more, I don't think you view mounting evidence of unreliability in a car the way someone holding the note on a vehicle does. I don't believe that the average owner, having had the service experience you have had with this car, would feel confident setting out on a 7,000-mile cross-country trip with it.
Now, having said that, I would ask that you keep the car past the warranty date, which I believe is something a smaller and smaller sample of average Model S owners intend to do.
As a Model S owner, I read the entire series with a great deal of interest. For a brand that attracts a great deal of media hyperbole, I think the series has been pretty even-handed.
Its unfortunate that they have had the issues with the drive train--after 27K miles in 11 months, that has not been my experience with the car. As to the service, it does not seem me like they get any particular VIP treatment--one of the reasons the early adopter hiccups are bearable is that the service is exemplary. I have owned MBs, BMWs, Lexuses and Acuras and Tesla puts them all to shame. Two of the nicer aspects of Tesla Service is Ranger Service (where they will dispatch a tech to your location) and Valet Service (where the will come to you, drop off a loaner and pick up the car, then return it once its done). You need not be a VIP to use either of these services. I have also the same kind of experience where I'll take the car in to a tire rotation or something equally mundane, and it'll come back with six other things they tweaked or noticed needed attention.
I will compare that to my other current ride, which has been throwing transmission over-temp warnings for a year and the dealership had taken the position they cannot figure out what's wrong, so they cannot do anything until it completely breaks.
No matter how things turn out for Tesla, they have done a remarkable thing that no EV has ever done before in automotive history---turn an EV into an actual "real" car that competes head to head with a ICE vehicle.
I knew it! My last post in the Model X blog (yesterday) asked where this car was - silence usually means bad news, just as it did with the Mystery Dart.
I agree 100% with fordson1. As for the statistical correlation with mileage: this has the hallmark of a design flaw, not a manufacturing flaw. Mfg flaws are more random due to the repetitive nature of today's mfg processes, but design flaws provide repeatable failure points. I see this in my own job as an engineer.
Tesla: You'd better work this out before I consider your cheaper car after my Leaf. It will help to make some sort of public announcement about 'drive unit improvements and free repairs/recalls', and take the stock price hit, rather than let this story make later adopters like me have doubts. This is not rocket science, Mr. Musk, and you of all people know the difference.
Nobody should blame the power of the Model S for this issue. Electric motors power everything from trains to elevators and subways, and they are many times as powerful as the Model S.
By comparison, my Leaf has had no problems. Nissan performed a required software upgrade once. The wheels stay straight, and it's built very well. No bugs in 16k miles, but the nav system is lousy, and the gas gauge is inaccurate. Oh well.
Honestly, if I owned any car as buggy as the Model S, I'd be screaming at the dealer for a refund, but under the circumstances I don't see Edmunds doing that. I had a Honda Odyssey that had a myriad of problems from Day One (literally), but only one of the issues (power sliding door) got me into Lemon Law court. I received a small check for my trouble, and traded the car. But it took me 28k miles and 20 months to reach that point; the lemon suit took 9 of those months to settle. But since Edmunds has no long term commitment to this car, you won't be pursuing this avenue.
Mr Montoya - thanks for coming clean about this vehicle. I'll take you at your word that your not a Tesla apologist. Actually, I want to be a Tesla apologist, and want them to succeed, and want to own their product, but the story in this blog gives me great pause. So I encourage Edmunds to keep the car beyond the warranty period and see how it goes long term.
When you announced this trip I stated "The extra 6500 miles could mean the car needs its 4th drivetrain somewhere around Colorado on the return trip."
I really hoped that prediction wouldn't come to pass. I suppose where you first heard the noise (in the last 500 miles) would have put you right about there - remarkable.
This is most definitely a design flaw. Tesla, get on this, and announce the fix, so future mainstream buyers don't have doubts!
Edmunds, YOU HAVE TO KEEP THIS CAR! Most of your blog entries are rather mundane since usually nothing seems to go wrong. However, when a car is this problematic you owe it to the public to continue testing the car to see how these issues play out in the long-run. You also should publish stories on your experience, so that the public is aware of these issues. The general public is not made up of car nerds like us. Whenever I hear people gawking over a Model S, I always ask them what they think about the drivetrain issues, and they always give me empty stares. Most people do not realise this issue exists. It is important that you continue testing this care and increase public awareness on the issue. Maybe then Tesla will take more serious action and give us confidence in buying one of their cars in the future. My wife says she wants to get a Tesla in a few years, but until I see this issue rectified, our money will go elsewhere.
Many of the Toyota Rav4 EV's, like mine, have experienced the same "milling sound" and motor replacement. I didn't know it was internally referred to as milling until this article.
My first Tesla motor was serial number 331, and likely produced concurrently with the very first Tesla Model S motors (they are virtually identical). It was replaced at 11,000 miles with increasingly louder and louder noise.
Now, at almost 40,000 miles, the replacement motor is doing well. One part unique the Rav4 EV (that's not on the Model S) is the "gateway computer", which is the connection between the Toyota part of the car and the Tesla part. Sadly, these fail at a disturbing rate, too, rendering the car disabled many times wherever the car happens to be.
I'm confident Tesla will figure all this out. One part of the car that Toyota did was the onboard charge timer... it wouldn't charge on the months with 31 days. Yep, that much testing.
PLEASE KEEP THE CAR! Everyone is interested in this car. Every blog entry about the Tesla talks about how the editor likes the car. Telsa has the power to be a game changer. I'm sure many viewers like me love the idea of the car but want to know more before we make an investment like this. Instead of blogging about how an editors big hands can't fit inside a Highlanders storage area, you can bring meaningful information about cars like the Tesla. Cars that enthusiasts like us want to learn about.
You guys gotta keep the car, if for no other reason that it brings the most web traffic to this site.
I have driven Tesla's for over five years now. I drove my Model S across country country a couple of months ago. I also have a blog about every Tesla experience I have had. http://teslaowner.wordpress.com
I do not think this drive unit issue is as ubiquitous as you are stating.
I will preface this buy saying, as a Model S owner, I've got 14k miles on the car and have all my original parts. I love it, and it is the best car I have ever owned. However, I know a few owners that have had major parts replaced, and as a shareholder, I'd certainly like Tesla to reduce those types of issues. But in each case I'm aware of, Tesla has gone above and beyond (some here imply Edmunds is getting good treatment because they are Edmunds, but that is not the case), and I think that is part of the issue, especially with motor replacement. If someone comes in and says "my motor is making a new noise", Tesla wants to try and address it. Let's face it, some people are more sensitive to sounds than others--the vast majority of owners may not hear something over the radio. But the Edmunds guys are car guys, they hear a noise, and they ask for some resolution. Motor replacement doesn't mean "motor died". That motor might have continued to work for another 100k miles, we don't know. But Tesla wants to make the owners happy, so they replace the motor, examine why it has the issue, recondition it, and redeploys it. In the end, this doesn't amount to much money to keep a customer happy. By contrast, GM would have said "drive it until it breaks and then come talk to me."
One more thing: someone above made the comment that $600 a year is too much for maintenance. First, Edmunds didn't do the maintenance, and I would like to point out that this does not void the warranty. Point me to another car where that happens. Second, please point me to any other $80k car that has annual maintenance cheaper than this ("free" maintenance isn't free--it is paid as part of the vehicle). $600 seems entirely reasonable to me to maintain an asset of this value. Third, if you prepay the maintenance, it only costs $425/year, making it even cheaper.
I think @k5ing above that said Edmunds car was treated like a rental car is correct. Lots of drivers, driving it extremely hard, given that it isn't their personal vehicle. It doesn't excuse the issues, but probably explains why Edmunds experience is so far out of the norm from a regular owner.
Edmunds typically IS tough on cars, but you have to ask whether their ICE test cars have ever required 3 engine swaps in 30k miles. And hearing the same story about a RAV4 EV is concerning.
Yes, this car has received VIP treatment:
I don't doubt that they treat at least some customers similarly, if not all, but on this point I'm not taking things too seriously regarding the service experience.
Ron, I believe the Xbox analogy is very shortsighted. A car is not a piece of consumer electronics for most people- it is their primary form of transportation and for them, life would be severely disrupted without it. Maybe it's ok for Tesla fans because they either have multiple cars or don't rely on it very often. Or they have vested interests in the stock price. I'm not sure if the comparison is wise, but mostly the tone of your post seemingly gave Tesla a free pass for these very serious issues- it is not acceptable in this day and age for an engine or motor to be replaced 4 times under such low mileage conditions and saying those things as a consumer advisor was pretty baffling. Thank for you coming clean, and I'll take you at your word that you're not actually an apologist (woo! Random internet person doesn't hate me!)
As with everyone else, you guys should keep the car. You're really onto something with this long term test drive although I'm sure Elon Musk would rather the car "mysteriously disappear" by this point.
It should be a given that quality and reliability are two different things. What CR also mentioned is that Tesla Model S has 10x the average warranty cost for vehicles. What does that tell you?
This argument would be valid except that the Tesla Model S is probably the least reliable car in Edmund's stable. It hasn't left them stranded as many times as the departed 20 year old Lexus; but by the same token it has required more repairs than the Nissan GT-R (which was already mocked for requiring a transmission swap). One time, it left an editor stranded on the side of the road with his kid, without headlights and without much of an option for limping to a safer location- someone could have been hurt. Every other car, from the Kia Forte to the Ram 1500 to the Corvette Stingray, hasn't required an engine change.
Has anyone actually driven a Model S to failure of the drive unit on the road? As in, you know, it won't go any more? I for one, as a Model S owner, would be interested to know what is failing when it makes the "milling" sound, and how it will become more than an annoyance.
This is clearly a design flaw and needs a nationwide recall to address it. 3 drive trains in 35k miles is not a random event especially since the replaced drivetrains are sealed units that have not been damaged by same chassis. I wonder what happens if you keep driving with the milling sound though? Next time just keep driving it to see if the car actually stops moving or if there is a major failure of another component. And yeah, you must keep this car, otherwise I and a lot of other people will never come back to your site for suspicion of collusion with Tesla in getting this car out of the spot light.
I'd like to thank everyone on the Edmunds staff for covering the Tesla Model S so thoroughly. You guys have been great. I like that you have been fair and honest with us about the car. I am sorry you have had problems, but it is very reassuring to know they have been handled so well, and to your satisfaction.
Regarding the annual service... Someone on the Tesla Motors forums noted that there's a bit more to it than what is listed in public documentation. The Tesla Service Center does more than just a cursory inspection of your car -- what they did while replacing your drive unit. They do a complete inspection of the vehicle, stem to stern, effectively taking the entire car apart, physically checking every single nut, bolt, pin, and panel, replace anything and everything that might be even the slightest bit out of whack, then put the car back together again.
So, if you intend to keep the car -- get the annual service done. If you intend to sell the car -- get the annual service done. It really is worth every dime, and then some.
I can attest that Tesla service is exemplary and that the treatment that I have received has been astounding. I have driven over 12k miles since taking delivery in December of last year and have had only one minor problem that actually required the car to be in for service.
What is amazing is that the company will retrofit additional hardware free of charge to older models. Beyond the titanium shielding, they have introduced noise a noise suppression cover for the a/c unit because customers did not like hearing it from the outside of the car, and have introduced a seat retrofit for customers that prefer a softer seat. With any retrofit, they pick your car up, drop off a loaner, and return it as part of their standard service.
There is no other car company in the US that devoted to their customers, and most nickel and time you to death. When apple upgraded to IOS7, my girlfriend was charged for a firmware update by another car company. Tesla, is constantly updating and adding features requested by customers for free.
I would rather have numerous painless service experiences where a company checks the car bumper to bumper and proactively fixes things, than having infrequent expensive services that are inconvenient and usually costly and having to deal with the hassle of oil changes and frequent brake service any day and could not be more happy with my experience thus far.
This is quite simply not believable. In the first place, I have read a lot about the $600 service and have never heard anyone claim this is done.
Secondly, why would a car company that is trying to sell this service for $600 deliberately downplay what they do to the car for that money? So they say that they're going to inspect and if necessary replace brake pads and wiper blades, when in reality they're going to do so much more? And their marketing department is OK with that claim?
Thirdly, no car service center is going to disassemble a car to the degree you claim to check it over, because the simple act of doing that will make it more likely have problems - when cars are assembled, they have special jigs and assembly cradles, etc. that make sure things go together correctly, that are very, very difficult to duplicate in a service center environment. Many of the connectors and fasteners, particularly in interiors and trim pieces, are not designed to be taken apart and put back together once a year - if they did nothing more than take your interior door panels off, break all the electrical connections and vent ducts, inspect your window regulator and put it all back together, once a year, you would be driving a rattletrap within two years. I would not allow my car to be taken apart and inspected to the degree that you claim once a year by a service center of any kind, if they paid ME $600 to be allowed to do it. You sound as though you think a car is made up of Lego blocks and you just pop them apart and them pop them back together as many times as you want.
I would hope that I sound like a Tesla Enthusiast who believes Tesla Motors is doing their absolute best to preserve and maintain the reputation of the firm.
I certainly hope I sound like someone who would appreciate the efforts of Tesla Motors to protect the resale value of their vehicles.
I absolutely hope that I sound like a reasonable individual who believes Tesla Motors Technicians are consummate professionals who are well trained to properly inspect a fully modular electric vehicle, making essential updates and inspections a painless endeavor.
I undoubtedly hope that others would be moved to enjoy having a car that was 'like new' when it leaves a Tesla Service Center, as noted in the above article.
I do not yet own a Tesla Motors product myself, but I really hope to do so someday, and I am thoroughly impressed by their Service, as have been numerous owners who have attested to such, and now expect that I would be equally rewarded for my purchasing decision by having any and all current and potential issues handled pro-actively.
I don't particularly care what you find 'quite simply unbelievable', though I hope you understand the sentiment that I believe my being labeled a Tesla Motors Certified Apologist Fanboy is an absolute honor.
There was this failure, but I don't think it included the milling sound: http://www.edmunds.com/tesla/model-s/2013/long-term-road-test/2013-tesla-model-s-stuck-on-the-freeway.html
My guess as a mechanical engineer, home mechanic, and armchair Tesla enthusiast (waning), is that the motors are experiencing bearing failure. The milling noise could be the bearing itself, or the rotor grinding against the stator inside the motor casing. Or it could be that the output gear suffers misalignment if the bearing goes bad. While I'm only guessing, the fact is that electrical motors have been in use for a century with all kinds of loads. One advantage of an EV is its relative simplicity, so frankly I'm appalled that Tesla seeming botched this elementary aspect of the design.
A couple of us have thought that it would involve bearing failure, since the drive system is so simple that there are only a couple of parts, plus the reduction gear/diff and axles. If bearing size/type selection was a question, I'm having difficulty understanding why the issue hasn't been fixed yet even though Edmunds has had several units replaced.
@redxsage: You didn't refute anything that Fordson1 just said. The fact that you don't even have a Model S yet you're making all these claims is just BS all around.
@redxsage: Um, OK.
@gslippy & duck87: I don't know what is directly causing the problem, but I would suspect it's a basic design flaw, since by taking bad units back out of the field, doing some kind of peripheral revs on those while staying with the same form factor and general design so it's pretty much plug & play, is not fixing the issue. Of course the fact that they're sending those units back out into the field is the reason the installed base keeps having the same problems multiple times.
Whether or not the current form factor is complicating the fix, it would seem that some major redesign work is required - I'm sure they're trying to get a fix into production, but it's taking a long time, and that indicates lots of re-engineering.
100% of a quite large torque output at 0 rpm is a tough challenge. Yes, it's been done before, but not with the weight and mass targets they're shooting for here.
Good point. I suppose designers of trains and elevators don't worry too much about the weight and size of the motor.
For cars, inertia is the challenge, and you manage that by reducing mass.
For locomotives, traction is the challenge, and you manage that by increasing mass.
The more cars you add to the train, the more inertia to overcome, but each locomotive can only exert so much tractive effort, because adding cars to the train doesn't add commensurate weight to the drive wheels. Wheelspin has always been a problem for locomotives, and one way to fight that is to make heavy locomotives.
Thing is, it's not like the Model S' power output or capacity are unknowns in the design world. Whereas it's somewhat unique in the automotive field, the fact is that there are many cars out there already using electric motors of varying power levels, either in hybrids or full BEVs. The milling sound appears to be fairly unique to Tesla powertrains, as even RAV4 EV owners are reporting it.
Unless Tesla needs to move to oil-circuitry for plain journal bearings or something that requires a substantial tearup, I have a hard time believing that they aren't able to fix the problem. Even with dimensionally similar bearings, material selection can play a big role. Sure, ceramic bearings are expensive... but probably less so than continually replacing drive units. Then again, between this and the consistent tendency of the rear suspension bolts to come loose and "swelling lugnuts" (hello? Fastener engineer?), I have a feeling that Tesla would do well to hire more experts for vehicle design. If the problem is unable to be fixed after an entire year from what is supposed to be a fast-moving, small volume company the problem is likely to be more fundamental than anyone is letting on.
By the way, Jalopnik had one of their racing buddies try to haul a Model S through the nurburgring. The time it did was abysmal, but not because of lack of charge, but because the car went into limp mode due to overheat. Considering the ring is a high speed circuit that's relatively gentle on cooling requirements, I'm thinking that Tesla might want to overhaul their durability testing procedures in general.
I want to see how long this thing will go and just how many drive units Tesla will dump into this thing before they call it quits and hand you guys a new car or that new SUV they are making for free. Also a cracked motor mount is VERY concerning especially with how many motors this thing has seen go through it.
Tesla was released before it was fully vetted. Model S owners are suffering from that decision. If GM. Ford, Chrysler, BMW, Mercedes, Audi, etc. had replaced 3 drive units on the same Edmunds review car, they would have been crucified by Edmunds.
Tesla is just taking a page out of the Japanese playbook, and that is to eat the repairs for early adapters. When Honda first came to the US their cars had rust and head gasket issues, which Honda covered, and thus assured them of the illusion of a high quality product. However, as a manufacturer becomes larger and the number of units in operation increases, it becomes no longer feasible for the company to goodwill the product.
A drive unit requiring replacement at 10K mile intervals is not acceptable. Imagine the bad press GM would receive if the same percentage of Volts drive units were failing, with many of those vehicles running mainly on electric power only. Elon Musk will never admit to making a defective product, his pride and arrogance will not allow him to, contrary to the facts as reported here.
@duck87 Tesla doesn't claim the Model S is a track car. I've put my Model S on the track, and it handles well and is a lot of fun, but certainly you are speed limited in pretty short order. The car isn't 'overheating', it is merely protecting the batteries by lowering heat output. You can claim this is a flaw, but it is as designed to protect the life of the battery as you would expect the car to do. Track driving isn't a normal use case for a passenger car, so Tesla hasn't optimized their car yet for that use case. I'm not sure it would be a huge amount of work--they would have to route the battery cooling lines that run to the radiator through some other type of cooling system. Maybe Saleen will do something like that when they come out with their modified Tesla Model S: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2014/07/12/saleen-tesla-model-s/12511329/
Neither is the 136hp Suzuki Swift that I drove. But that thing didn't go into limp mode and in fact on my second ever lap I already went faster than the Model S. As I said, the 'ring isn't exactly harsh on vehicle cooling requirements since it consists of many high speed corners.
Not to mention it's used by automakers as a test track- even for something like the Mercedes Benz S-class. Maybe Tesla should take some cues from manufacturers who have been building cars for a long time and actually do some durability testing? The car probably isn't suitable for autobahn situations either.
Cooling isn't rocket science either (unlike Musk's other enterprises). You have a bigger radiator, you have bigger (or more, since they're electric) water pumps.
Interesting - issue is starting to heat up. And sounds like the motor mount is an additional and perhaps associated issue.
Also, the advice to purchase the extended warranty is problematic...it's not offered in every state.
Majority people who are able to afford this car don't really care all these problems. First, they have warranty to cover 4 year - 5 years. Second, those people always change car in every 5 or 6 years (X model might be their next). Third, they are rich!
It's a myth that 'rich' people don't care about reliability. Nobody wants their fancy ride sitting in the shop every 10k miles.
Also, some non-'rich' people buy $70k pickups and Suburbans every day, which is right in Tesla territory.
@fordson1: Excellent threads - thank you. The informal poll numbers are troubling.
Rickard's quote: "[fear that] they may be facing a recall of the entire fleet for drive unit issues" is a very real concern to me as one with interest in the Model 3, but any shareholders of TSLA should be worried.
What I find interesting is that they're pointing to geartrain and metallurgical issues associated with the instantaneous torque of the P85 setup, rather than bearings per se.. I couldn't distill whether drivers of the regular 85, or the 60, were seeing the same problem. I've never heard of it on a Leaf (my car), but it only has 207 ft-lbs of torque and a 0-60 time of 10 seconds.
His description of the problem reminds me of the launch control issues that plagued early Nissan GT-R cars. The quickest solution is to slow the slew rate. As he says, maybe you give up 0-60 in 4.3 seconds in favor of 0-60 in 6.0 seconds, and keep your drivetrain for the life of the car.
Again, thanks for looking into this.