Print 48 comment(s) - last by mindless1.. on Jun 1 at 5:26 PM

The majority of the Tesla Roadsters currently delivered have been recalled for a suspension defect. Tesla blames Lotus, which assembles the cars in Britain.

Lotus has recalled 27 of the 2009 Lotus Exige (pictured here) and Elise for the same problem. The problem was first found by a Tesla driver complaining about poor handling.  (Source: AutoBlog)
Tesla is not happy with Lotus for mishandling its manufacturing

Tesla Motors has become, for the time being, the face of U.S. electric vehicles.  After making news with the release of its all-electric high-performance roadster, and more recently for its partnership with German automaker Daimler (owner of Mercedes-Benz), the young startup now has some less pleasant news to report.

The company is recalling 345 of its Roadster sports cars produced before April 22.  It wants to inspect their suspensions as it suspects that a "small percentage" of the Roadsters have improperly installed bolts in their rear chassis, possibly compromising the suspension.  Tesla blames automaker Lotus for the problems.  Lotus assembles the Roadsters in Britain, and then ships them to California for redistribution inside the U.S.

Tesla has said the problem does not affect the $109,000 USD car's powertrains and no accidents have been reported. 

Lotus is also negatively impacted by the problem, as apparently it made the same mistake on some of its sports cars.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it has issued a recall on 27 of its 2009 Elise and Exige vehicles.

The 345 returned Roadsters represent over two-thirds of the 500 units currently shipped.  The problem was actually found by one alert owner, who reported that their vehicle was experiencing "uncharacteristic handling."

To minimize inconvenience on customers, the company is looking to send technicians to their homes to make repairs, or to take the cars to a service shop nearby.  Greg Zanghi, Tesla's director of service and parts operations states, "We plan to do everything we can to address this matter swiftly and keep customers satisfied."

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Sad for Tesla
By MozeeToby on 5/29/2009 11:12:53 AM , Rating: 5
This is unfortunate for Tesla in that it isn't actually their fault, Lotus does all the manufacturing and if something is present in only a small number of cars you can't hardly call it a design defect.

Now Tesla gets a bad reputation (although the type of people that buy a Tesla probably won't car) and the mainstream will never realize that it is actually Lotus's mistake. Maybe Tesla should start inspecting each car on an individual basis as it gets shipped out?

RE: Sad for Tesla
By Regs on 5/29/2009 1:06:34 PM , Rating: 2
Lets say I'm the CEO of Proctor and Gamble and I make baby formula that was manufactured in Mexico by company X. That formula gets tainted with a flu virus and kills a couple of infants. Who's butt do you think the public is coming after? Some no name manufacturer in Mexico, or Proctor and gamble?

RE: Sad for Tesla
By Cheesew1z69 on 5/29/2009 3:43:31 PM , Rating: 5
If Lotus wasn't a recognized brand, I would buy your argument but they aren't...they are a well known brand.

RE: Sad for Tesla
By Samus on 5/29/2009 4:52:17 PM , Rating: 3
I didn't know they actually delivered 345 of these things ;)

RE: Sad for Tesla
By PlasmaBomb on 6/1/2009 9:18:10 AM , Rating: 2
They have delivered 500 of them...

RE: Sad for Tesla
By PlasmaBomb on 6/1/2009 9:18:34 AM , Rating: 2

RE: Sad for Tesla
By Regs on 5/29/2009 6:31:45 PM , Rating: 4
Actually it’s a little more tricky than that, and it really doesn't matter if it was X who did it or Lotus. Generally the agent owes the principal five duties - performance, notification, loyalty, obedience, and accounting. The agent, in this case lotus, was expected to exercise their represented skills as claimed to the principle (tesla).

But the principle is not completely out of the picture yet. A principle conducting an activity through an agent may be liable for harm resulting from the principals own negligence or recklessness. This includes giving improper instructions, authorizing the use of improper materials or tools, or establishing improper rules or policies.

To me and you, this sounds just like another assembly line anomaly (sh*t happens). Though is there something else Tesla is not saying? I guess Lotus will have a chance defending themselves, If they don't think it's their responsibility.

RE: Sad for Tesla
By tjr508 on 5/29/2009 6:55:24 PM , Rating: 2
It is more difficult than that. Tesla is an important client of theirs, so they can't just go slinging mud in the opposite direction.
From the initial number of vehicles produced to those recalled ratios, it does look like the Tesla modifications have something to do with making the problem worse.

RE: Sad for Tesla
By superflex on 5/29/09, Rating: 0
RE: Sad for Tesla
By mindless1 on 5/29/2009 5:29:06 PM , Rating: 2
What in the world are you babbling about?

The only flaw appears to be a bolt in the assembly. Likely many cars on the road have a bolt or two loose, but they aren't put through the paces these cars are meant to handle.

It's not a "supplier part", it's assembly of the automobile. Yes QC would aim to find such flaws but do you honestly think they are expected to test the torque on every nut and bolt on the entire car after it is assembled (meaning an entire stripdown, some things just aren't accessible when the car is wholly built), meaning starting to unscrew it then rescrew and torque it again?

But wait, if it could have been improperly torqued the first time, what is the assurance it isn't improperly torqued the second time during QA testing?

Do you then put the car through a second stripdown to check whether the car was reassembled properly by the first QA team?

What then? Since it was yet again reassembled you give it to the 3rd QA team to check the prior team's work, then a 4th team to check the 3rd team's work and so on ad infinitum?

Of course not, you spot check such things then test the finished product, obviously the ones they checked did not have this handling problem or they would have found the fault.

Bottom line - Modern cars are complex pieces of machinery and people are not perfect. Mistakes get made in design and assembly on ALL cars, if they were perfect from the beginning then the last perfect car ever made would've been identical to the first one that rolled off the Model-T assembly line a century ago.

As for delays, layoffs, etc, an entire different topic that is out of context here except as a plug to support your lack of respect.

RE: Sad for Tesla
By Regs on 5/29/2009 6:41:05 PM , Rating: 1
Well, we can take it the other way as well. What if Tesla wanted to keep costs down as much as possible so they can sell the car to their targeted market and authorized Lotus to use a piece of machinery that was unworthy of adjusting the correct torque for these types of bolts or for these types of cars (different paneling, frames, different tolerances and so forth)? The circumstances could change very easily in either direction to be fair.

RE: Sad for Tesla
By mindless1 on 6/1/2009 5:26:25 PM , Rating: 2
A torque wrench isn't an especially complex tool, keeping costs down would mean buying one of high presumed quality and cost so it didn't wear out as fast nor cause assembly line downtime.

RE: Sad for Tesla
By brshoemak on 5/30/09, Rating: 0
RE: Sad for Tesla
By tjr508 on 5/29/2009 6:44:19 PM , Rating: 2
Of course this is Tesla's fault as much as anyone's. They are delivering the final product while building it with parts not specifically designed around what they are using them for.

Using you argument, I can say that It's not OCZ's fault that their pre-Vertex SSDs sucked. Companies should know exactly what they are delivering to their clients at all times, period.

There is more to being a serious automaker than throwing other people's stuff together. Ford learned this the hard way when they matched up a top-heavy SUV with cheap tires.

By vazili on 5/29/09, Rating: 0
RE: hopefully
By Durrr on 5/29/2009 3:09:42 PM , Rating: 1
Yeah, cause 50+ years of racing pedigree is complete crap.. they still make some of the best handling cars on the planet. The simple fact is torque specs get messed up, and they're doing the right thing by recalling them. If it was that big of a deal, Tesla could simple sue Lotus. This doesn't seem to be happening, so my guess is it's pretty minor.

RE: hopefully
By Samus on 5/29/2009 4:59:30 PM , Rating: 3
I think the days of companies building their own platforms is nearly dead. Ford wouldn't be nearly as successful as they are today if they hadn't joint-ventured with Mazda to build and share many platforms dating back to the mid 80's. The focus platform (jointly built by Mazda and Ford of Europe, loosly based on the previous generation Escort/MX3 platform, adding control blades to the rear subframe) is the most successful platform sold today, carrying 11 different vehicles on top of it across four manufacturers!

RE: hopefully
By mindless1 on 5/29/2009 5:33:27 PM , Rating: 2
Could be something simpler than torque specs messed up, what if the equipment torquing it fell out of calibration during their assembly due to inadequate maintenance or wear, or defect or design problems by the company that made the assembly equipment?

If fault finding were easy for us armchair quarterbacks to do, certainly the companies actually building such things would have zero defects.

I agree it's the right thing to do a recall, although it may be a "cover our arses liability wise" move instead of an altruistic one.

RE: hopefully
By Durrr on 5/30/2009 8:56:53 AM , Rating: 1
When is a for-profit company ever altruistic? There's always an alternate motivation

RE: hopefully
By mindless1 on 6/1/2009 5:22:57 PM , Rating: 2
Most exotic car manufacturers started out with an altruistic goal, to build a great sports car. That costs money so yeah, profit is required if it takes up enough time that it's more than a hobby.

By KingConker on 5/29/2009 11:25:51 AM , Rating: 2
Look it up :)

By Mitch101 on 5/29/2009 12:51:56 PM , Rating: 5
I like the origins of Lamborghini.

Ferrari insulted Mr. Lamborghini, effectively stating that a tractor manufacturer was not qualified to criticize his Ferraris. Insulted by Ferrari's reaction, Lamborghini began to repair his clutch himself, at which point he noticed that some of the clutch components were the same as the ones he used on his tractors. Encouraged by the discovery, Ferruccio Lamborghini called upon the talents of Giotto Bizzarrini, Gian Paolo Dallara, Franco Scaglione and Bob Wallace, who worked on what Ferruccio envisioned as his grand tourer to rival Ferrari. The result would eventually become the Lamborghini 350GT and the founding of Lamborghini.

By afkrotch on 5/29/2009 9:57:11 AM , Rating: 2
Well, it's a good thing Tesla is very prompt on this matter and attempting to remedy the situation with minimal inconvenience to the owners.

RE: Nice
By mydogfarted on 5/29/2009 10:10:29 AM , Rating: 2
Lotus is actually very good about this. My friend had problems with his Elise. After the local dealer couldn't figure out the issue, corporate sent a flatbed tow truck to his house, towed it to a facility near the headquarters and after a few weeks they just gave him a new car.

To be innovative is not so easy
By Ilya Stavinsky on 5/29/09, Rating: 0
RE: To be innovative is not so easy
By thekdub on 5/30/2009 2:40:56 AM , Rating: 2
Electric cars, completely new?

Nope. Electric-powered vehicles have been around about as long as combustion-powered vehicles. Over 100 years. None of them have been largely successful, which is why you don't see many (if any) on the road today.

British Auto Assembly
By gstrickler on 6/1/2009 1:55:15 PM , Rating: 2
No offense intended to any British readers, but British auto manufacturing has not been high quality for 30+ years. British auto manufacturing quality started falling off before the U.S. auto manufacturing did, and has never really recovered (although BMW may be changing that with the Mini). Tesla could have predicted and/or prevented this type of problem if they had been paying attention, but they were in such a rush dealing with their internal issues that they weren't paying attention to the quality of their outsourced products.

Typical American
By Per Hansen on 5/31/2009 3:48:01 AM , Rating: 1
Blame others for their own quality control failure.. But it is a nice car.

electric shock ?
By doane on 5/29/09, Rating: -1
By Smilin on 5/29/09, Rating: -1
RE: Wait
By phorensic on 5/29/09, Rating: -1
RE: Wait
By omnicronx on 5/29/09, Rating: -1
RE: Wait
By MozeeToby on 5/29/2009 11:20:02 AM , Rating: 5
You have zero respect for Tesla because they were almost broke and were forced to lay off people to stay operational? Especially when doing so hurt their business significantly by delaying the release for their far more mainstream car by a year or two?

RE: Wait
By omnicronx on 5/29/09, Rating: 0
RE: Wait
By MozeeToby on 5/29/2009 12:57:15 PM , Rating: 2
You are kidding yourself if you think laying off these workers would enable them to release the sedan sooner than stated.
Quite the opposite, I'm saying that being forced into laying off engineers and designers caused or increased the delay because of the expertise lost. I'm saying that Tesla, if they had a choice, would have kept that expertise for the developement of future products. The fact that laying off these people hurt their business plans significantly indicates to me that they didn't have any real choice but to do so.

RE: Wait
By omnicronx on 5/29/09, Rating: -1
RE: Wait
By Cheesew1z69 on 5/29/2009 3:13:03 PM , Rating: 2
That loan was done after the fact....

RE: Wait
By nixoofta on 5/29/2009 9:01:55 PM , Rating: 2
...were these the bolt-tighteners that got laid off?


RE: Wait
By PlasmaBomb on 6/1/2009 9:26:24 AM , Rating: 2
now you come to mention it...

RE: Wait
By Truxy on 5/29/2009 11:29:50 AM , Rating: 1
Yes, they should have just pulled a GM - hound the government for billions (for sustainability) and then lay them off.

Tesla's a relatively small company. With the economy how it is, plenty of companies have had layoffs. The difference is Tesla laid the right people off and still released a (mostly) solid product.

RE: Wait
By mdogs444 on 5/29/09, Rating: 0
RE: Wait
By aGreenAgent on 5/29/2009 1:35:08 PM , Rating: 1
No it's not. They didn't request any bailout money.

They laid of some workers, and subsequently requested $350M in grants from an already existing government fund designed to help production of electric vehicles. Their intent was to use this money to build another production plant (so that they could make their second model, that more people COULD afford), not to bail out the company.

RE: Wait
By omnicronx on 5/29/2009 1:55:24 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think that is true, everyone I've seen it says it is a loan, which they would have to pay it back. A grant would imply they would be given the money.

RE: Wait
By Spuke on 5/29/2009 3:04:53 PM , Rating: 2
It can be a grant or a loan. Depends on their eligibility.

RE: Wait
By Cheesew1z69 on 5/29/2009 3:39:20 PM , Rating: 2
I believe it was Daimler who offered to loan the 350 million, not the government...

RE: Wait
By IcePickFreak on 5/29/2009 11:27:24 AM , Rating: 5
Yeah, a company who fires people via the company blog over the weekend, demands gas be taxed to a minimum of $5/gal to help their own cause, and raise prices on a vehicle people already had money down on sure sounds like a refreshing breath of fresh air. But they don't have corporate jets, so whats not to like??

RE: Wait
By Smilin on 5/29/2009 11:58:52 AM , Rating: 3
Yeah whatever... Tesla has been promising mass production for years.

RE: Wait
By Jedi2155 on 5/30/2009 12:39:21 AM , Rating: 2
They've been promising mass production for 2012 before the credit crisis. Since that happened, their plans went out the window.

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