They don’t, based off J.D. Power’s 2017 U.S. Initial Quality Study that was released Wednesday. That’s not because Tesla Inc. doesn’t make quality vehicles, but because it doesn’t allow J.D. Power access to its customer registration data for the survey.
“I don’t know that they’re hiding anything. They just don’t want to participate,” Dave Sargent, vice president, global automotive at J.D. Power, said when releasing the annual survey results here at an Automotive Press Association meeting. “It’s not like their cars are falling apart.”
For the annual study — which started 30 years ago — J.D. Power collects customer registration data from each state. It uses that information to send surveys to consumers who have leased or purchased a new vehicle for that given model year to report any problems they may have experienced in the first 90 days of ownership.
But some states, including Tesla’s home of California, require automakers to grant state officials permission to release the data.
All automakers aside from Tesla have granted such access, according to Sargent. J.D. Power, he said, receives about 30 percent of Tesla’s customer data. That amount is not enough for the company to place the automaker in its Initial Quality Study, which is viewed as an industry benchmark for quality.
“They don’t want to play this game,” he said. Later adding, “We’re hoping they will come to the party because we’re increasingly getting this question.”
A Tesla representative did not immediately respond for comment. A direct tweet to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, an avid tweeter, also went unanswered.
Historically, small sample size has prevented some automakers from appearing in the annual rankings in both the Initial Quality Study and the J.D. Power Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout Study. Other smaller brands, including Smart this year, have been included in the study but not ranked because of a lack of sample size.
J.D. Power has evolved the study in recent years to focus more on emerging technologies of new vehicles, a space Tesla has always claimed to lead with the Model S and Model X.
The Tesla models, since their debut, have included a large center console screen and typically have been first to market with many advanced systems and technologies, including its highly watched Autopilot system that has drawn criticism due to reported accidents.
The launches of both vehicles — particularly the Model X — came under some criticism due to delays and reported quality issues involving new components such as falcon-wing doors.
In March, J.D. Power released a special report on Tesla, called “Tesla: Beyond the Hype.” According to a release, problems associated with the Model S and Model X have little influence on the overt affection owners have for these cars and the brand.
The report, according to J.D. Power, was based on multiple focus groups of Tesla owners and an in-depth evaluation of Tesla models against competitive vehicles by automotive research experts at J.D. Power.