Tesla ratings cut by Consumer Reports over wait for brake update

Tesla’s Model S sedan, which Consumer Reports had ranked as No. 1 among ultra luxury cars, has fallen to third on the magazine’s list.

The magazine says Tesla has taken too long to enable automatic emergency braking, which used to come standard on vehicles the company produced before late October 2016 and which is supposed to help prevent crashes.

Consumer Reports has also lowered its rating for Tesla’s Model X crossover vehicle for the same reason. The magazine says the company’s “deployment of the safety feature has been consistently behind schedule.”

Tesla told the magazine it will update the software to add the feature to the vehicles on Thursday. The company said in the fall that it had left the feature off its newest hardware because of upgrades related to preparing the vehicles to be self-driving, but that it would eventually add the feature.

But Consumer Reports — which has alternately raved about and warned about Tesla vehicles over the years — has grown impatient.

“When we purchased our latest test car, we were assured automatic emergency braking would be enabled by the end of 2016,” Jake Fisher, director of Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Center in Connecticut, said. “We’ve been waiting for this important safety feature, which is standard equipment on much cheaper cars.”

Earlier this month, Tesla was hit with a lawsuit by three Model S drivers who also are unhappy with software-upgrade delays. They complain that delays in rolling out Autopilot software have made their cars less safe, and that software releases so far have been “half-baked.” Tesla responded that it has always maintained the rollouts would be incremental.

Also last week, Tesla voluntarily recalled most of the vehicles it made last year because their parking brakes could remain engaged.

Consumer Reports lowered its rating of the Model S from 87 to 85, behind the Lexus LS and BMW 7 Series. The Model X’s rating declined from 58 to 56, which places it near the bottom of luxury midsize SUVs.

The magazine says it will re-evaluate its scores once Tesla “deploys AEB to all owners and starts selling all new vehicles with the feature activated.”


Photo: Tesla launches the Model S at its factory in Fremont on June 22, 2012. (Patrick Tehan/Mercury News)


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