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Tesla Quality Ratings Dropped from Top 10 by Consumer Reports

After winning Consumer Reports’ coveted top spot for 2014 and 2015, Tesla Motors Inc.’s (TSLA:NASDAQ) was dropped from the top 10 car brands for 2016.

The Audi brand took the top crown for 2016, based on the magazine’s road testing, reliability, safety and owner-satisfaction scores. Audi was followed by Subaru, Lexus, Porsche and BMW.

The booby-prizes for the bottom-dwellers of the 30 brands tested went to Fiat, Jeep, Mitsubishi, Land Rover and Chrysler.

Despite owning both Audi and Porsche, Volkswagen came in at 15th place after admitting that the company had relied on secretly installed software since 2009 to allow its diesel vehicles to emit up to 40 times legally allowable limits. Volkswagen and Audi terminated all sales of diesel vehicles in the United States in the 4th quarter of 2015.

The Ford F-150 was the top rated pickup truck in the world. But U.S. brand passenger cars tended to be in the lower half of automakers in quality as Ford ranked 16th, Chevrolet ranked 20th, GMC ranked 23rd, and Cadillac ranked 24th.

General Motors’ Buick brand was the exception, picking up 7th place ahead of Mazda, Toyota, Kia Motors and Honda, which rounded-out the other top 10 brands.

The BMW 750i xDrive, Lexus LS 460L and Audi A8 L took the podium in top ultra-luxury car rank for 2016, due to Tesla’s faltering reliability scores.

Last September, Consumer Reports gave Tesla’s Model S the first-ever perfect score rating of 100, based on acceleration, braking, handling and other key performance characteristics. The magazine trumpeted the all-electric vehicle as the “best-performing car that Consumer Reports has ever tested.”

But 6 weeks later, and after an avalanche of negative Model S owner comments, Consumer Reports withdrew its recommendation, largely because of poor reliability, and changed Tesla’s rating to “worse-than-average” in its annual report on the predicted reliability of new vehicles, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Jake Fisher, Director of Consumer Reports auto testing, told Reuters on Feb 23 that as Tesla has ramped up production its quality has suffered. Fisher noted key deficiencies included problems with gull-wing hatches, door handles, electric motors and batteries.

The non-profit Consumer Reports Magazine collects over 740,000 responses from vehicle owners each year. With over 8 million subscribers, the credibility of its ratings each year can significantly stimulate or crush demand for certain vehicles.

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