- Tesla's Model 3 beat out its electric competition from Chevrolet and BMW when it came to powertrain and electronics.
- But when it comes to fit and finish, UBS analysts said the car had significant manufacturing issues.
- The teardown engineers found missing bolts, loose tolerances, misaligned welds, and more.
- Follow Tesla's stock price in real time here.
UBS has published the final lap of its complete teardown and analysis of a Tesla Model 3 to compare it to the competition.
Despite winning the first two laps — powertrain and electronics — the bank said Elon Musk’s newest sedan came in last place behind the Chevy Bolt and BMW i3 when it came to build quality.
"Our teardown experts noted numerous Model 3 quality issues including inconsistent gaps & flushness throughout the car, missing bolts, loose tolerances, and uneven & misaligned spot welds," the team of analysts led by Colin Langan wrote in a note to clients Thursday.
"The car scored 'below average' on the fit & finish quality audit which looked at >1, 500 gap measurements," UBS' Colin Langan wrote in the note to clients. "The team also found the body-wind noise was 'borderline acceptable.'"
"The results confirm media reports of quality issues & are disappointing for a $49k car," UBS said.
They won't be easy fixes, either, UBS added, especially when it comes to the structural issues creating excess noise.
After speaking to manufacturing experts and former Tesla employees, the bank said "many of the issues have to do with the basics of stamping out frame parts or the attachment thereof, which requires extensive retooling investment and shutdown time to fix."
This verdict comes at a time when Tesla is racing to build enough cars to become profitable. The company built an entire assembly line in a tent next to its main plant in Fremont, California, as it ramped to build 5,000 cars per week at the end of June. Documents seen by Business Insider showed roughly 4,300 of those required significant work to fix production issues.
UBS' findings reaffirmed what 12 Tesla owners have told Business Insider over the past 12 months. The customers have reported problems before, during, and after receiving their vehicles, including delayed deliveries, broken door handles, and internal computer systems crashing and leaving their cars inoperable. Accounts of early, persistent problems — some that become apparent within days of delivery — contrast with the high customer-satisfaction scores Tesla's vehicles have received from independent surveys.
"Beyond the build quality issues, the serviceability of the Tesla Model 3 comes into question as well," UBS said. "Many aspects of the vehicle are inaccessible to even experienced mechanics and the containment of the battery pack makes fixes complex and expensive.
"In general, the car has fewer components, which are often more advanced than previous generations, but each component is more complex, expensive, and harder to service or replace."
Tesla has pushed back against UBS' claims, telling Business Insider after the initial publication of this article that it will fully refund customers who are unhappy with their vehicles.
"Our customer satisfaction scores for Model 3 quality have averaged about 90% since January, with steady improvement through the year, even as the number of cars delivered has rapidly multiplied," a spokesperson said in an email. "Tesla customers never have to worry because if they are unhappy with their car when they receive it, they can either give it back for a full refund, allow us to address any issues, or ask for an entirely new Tesla.
"As of April 2018, the standard deviation of all gaps and offsets across the entire car had already improved by nearly 40% on average, with particular gap improvements visible in the area of the trunk, rear lamps and rear quarter panel. Today, Model 3 panel gaps are competitive with Audi, BMW, and Mercedes models, but in the spirit of relentless improvement, we are working to make them even tighter. Our goal is to produce a perfect car for every customer."
With two leading laps and a hiccup under its belt, UBS said it would name an overall winner of the electric-car race in a coming note.
You can read about the first two tests here:
- Wall Street analysts were blown away by the Tesla Model 3's 'next-gen, military-grade' tech — and say that's why the base model will never turn a profit
- Tesla's electronics are miles ahead of the competition — but Wall Street analysts who tore down a whole car worry they could be 'too centralized'
NOW WATCH: How Columbia House sold 12 CDS for $1
- A dangerous parasitic illness spread by bugs that bite people's faces at night is spreading in the US, doctors warn
- All the TV shows that have been canceled in 2018
- Elon Musk: Anyone who can do a better job as Tesla's CEO 'can have the reins right now'