Consumer Reports is an American publication, a non-profit organization featuring product testing, consumer research etc for the benefit of the consumer. It carries out truly independent research unbiased and unaffected by the pressure of big industry. So, for example, take Autocar, a British car review publication, in the UK it is seen as the industry standard for writing excellence but it’s debatable if they really are truly independent observers.
Autocar has to forge positive relationships with car manufacturers, doing so entitles them to receive product loans that would otherwise cost them thousands of pounds per car.
Autocar gives the impression of balancing on the right side of being neutral observers, or should that be testers, and forming a critical analysis, as Ben likes to say. (Ben is a friend of ours).
However, Autocar hosts yearly manufacturer awards and to us, this is a conflict of interest because they are essentially saying “bravo” while turning a blind eye to say, a safety recall or backing a manufactures stance on the diesel debate.
So Autocar’s ability to form a critical analysis (as Ben likes to say) for the benefit of the consumer is at odds with its sun-conscience support for the industry in which it resides.
Consumer Reports, yes it has a different mandate, however, it is truly independent, test cars are hired rather than loaned for free for a week, there is no conflict of interest and the consumer does get an unbiased review.
So when Consumer Reports recently backtracked on a Tesla Model 3 review, which criticised the Model 3’s braking as being substandard we wondered if Tesla, aka, Elon Musk twisted a few arms.
Consumer Reports initially said the Model 3’s braking was “the worst we have ever tested“. As such the initial criticism was reversed from a non-recommendation to a recommendation.
Tesla corrected the braking issue with a software update, but the review also pointed out flaws with the touchscreen, ride comfort and road noise.
There was a small caveat, Consumer Reports did add that while the Tesla braking wasn’t brilliant it still scored well enough to be granted the recommendation.
Elon Musk is known for aggressively hitting back when his cars have received poor reviews and Consumer Reports have consistently hit Tesla where it hurts.
So did Tesla try to buy positive feedback from a truly independent review source? The answer is no, but we want to know why the braking issue wasn’t picked up by Tesla during testing and development?