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Tesla Model 3 fails to get Consumer Reports nod due to 'big flaws'

The car is seen as crucial to Tesla’s profitability at a time when it is battling to reverse production shortfalls.

FILE: Tesla Inc’s Model 3 sedan. Picture:  @Tesla/Twitter

Influential US magazine Consumer Reports will not recommend Tesla Inc’s Model 3 sedan, saying on Monday it braked slower than a full-sized pickup truck, taking the shine off a day of gains for shares in Elon Musk’s electric car company.

Musk had driven shares in Tesla as much as 4% higher with weekend tweets showing the Silicon Valley company was aiming initially to deliver higher-priced, more profitable fully-loaded editions of the Model 3.

The car is seen as crucial to Tesla’s profitability at a time when it is battling to reverse production shortfalls, confronting reports of crashes involving its vehicles and facing increased scepticism over its finances.

On Twitter, Musk said the fully-loaded Model 3, with all-wheel drive, a dual motor and a 499km range - but excluding its vaunted Autopilot feature - would cost $78,000. The company has not yet begun to make the $35,000 base price version that Tesla originally claimed would make it a mass-market vehicle.

Consumer Reports, however, declined to recommend the Model 3 and criticized it for having overly long stopping distances and a difficult-to-use centre touchscreen.

The magazine, which provides an annual rating of vehicles sold in the United States, said even though its tests found plenty to like about the Model 3 and it was a thrill to drive, it had “big flaws.”

Tesla’s stopping distance of 46 m when braking at 100km per hour was “far worse” than any contemporary car tested by the magazine and about seven feet longer than the stopping distance of a Ford F-150 full-sized pickup, it said.

Tesla said its own testing had found braking distances of 133 feet on average using the 18” Michelin all season tire, and as low as 126 feet with all tires currently available.

“Unlike other vehicles, Tesla is uniquely positioned to address more corner cases over time through over-the-air software updates, and it continually does so to improve factors such as stopping distance,” Tesla said.