Tesla invited institutional investors to take a spin in the new Model 3 at a closed-door event at its showroom in Brooklyn, N.Y. And while some gave favorable reviews in notes to clients, one analyst was decidedly more critical of the new mass-market all-electric sedan.
Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst with Bernstein, wrote, "Fit and finish on the two demo cars we saw — perhaps not surprisingly — was relatively poor," CNBC reports. Sacconaghi said he found misalignments in the glass roof, body panels, rubber trim around windows and seams in the interior ceiling.
"Our inspection revealed widespread shortcomings in fit and finish. ... Tesla representatives acknowledged some of the fit issues, but stated that they believed that Model 3 was much further ahead than where Model X and S had been at this point in production," he wrote.
"We do find the statements credible, we can't help noting that Tesla likely chose to share with us its highest quality/best assembled units, so issues on other cars may be even more pronounced."
Tesla is already facing issues with the slow rollout of the Model 3, its attempt to make an affordable electric vehicle. Earlier this month, the company said it was pushing back its target of building 5,000 units per week by three months to late in the first quarter of 2018. Tesla made just 260 Model 3 sedans in the third quarter due to "production bottlenecks," which it said were mainly at its battery module assembly line in Nevada.
Misaligned body and interior door panels were among the many quality issues a Tesla owner recently documented in a video about his Model S.
CNBC says invitations to the Model 3 test-drive event were sent to clients and prospective clients of UBS. Drivers were to be accompanied by Tesla representatives and prohibited from taking photos or videos.
Sacconaghi in his note said he worries that "poor overall initial quality could undermine Tesla's brand and potentially overwhelm its service network." He also believes the Model 3 could hurt sales of the Model S, since the long-range version of the Model 3 is nearly $30,000 cheaper than the Model S and has a longer driving range.