Video: Consumer Reports recommends Model 3 after Tesla improves braking via software update

Change can happen astonishingly fast in the auto industry these days, at least when Tesla is involved. When Consumer Reports announced that it would not award Model 3 its coveted Recommended rating, mainly because of the new EV’s poor performance in a braking test, Elon Musk responded within hours, promising to look into the matter and do whatever it takes to improve braking performance.

Above: Tesla's Model 3 (Source: Tesla)

“The Tesla’s stopping distance of 152 feet from 60 mph was far worse than any contemporary car we’ve tested and about 7 feet longer than the stopping distance of a Ford F-150 full-sized pickup,” wrote CR’s team.

A Tesla spokesperson quickly responded: “Tesla’s own testing has found braking distances with an average of 133 feet when conducting the 60-0 mph stops using the 18” Michelin all season tire and as low as 126 feet with all tires currently available.”

(Other reviewers, including Motor Trend and Car and Driver, also found much better results in their tests than CR did.)

Elon Musk himself soon tweeted in: “Very strange. Model 3 is designed to have super good stopping distance & others reviewers have confirmed this. If there is vehicle variability, we will figure it out & address. May just be a question of firmware tuning, in which case can be solved by an OTA software update.”

Above: A look behind-the-scenes at Tesla (Source: Tesla)

“Even if a physical upgrade is needed to existing fleet, we will make sure all Model 3’s having amazing braking ability at no expense to customers,” Musk continued.

Elon Musk later said that the braking issue CR identified could be fixed with a firmware update, which would be rolled out “in a few days.”

Consumer Reports quickly responded that it would be happy to re-evaluate Model 3 if Tesla could address the problem. “From my readings of the tweets, it is clear they are acknowledging the issue and they have the ability to update the vehicle and fix it,” Jake Fisher, CR’s Director of Automotive Testing, told CNBC. “If we see braking distances along the lines of what they are talking about, this will be a recommended model.”

The consensus: If this unfolds the way everyone wants it to, it could be a major milestone in automotive history — a serious safety issue identified, analyzed and fixed, all within a few days.

So what happened next?


Top: Consumer Reports' Jake Fisher discusses his extensive conversation with Elon Musk about Tesla's plans to improve Model 3 braking; Bottom: The results after Tesla's latest software update (Youtube: Consumer Reports)

Sure enough, after Tesla improved braking via its software update, the Model 3 got a recommendation from Consumer Reports. Jake Fisher from Consumer Reports notes, "I’ve been at CR for 19 years and tested more than 1,000 cars... I’ve never seen a car that could improve its track performance with an over-the-air update." 


Written by: Charles MorrisThis article originally appeared in Charged; Sources: Consumer Reports, Electrek, CNBC