The report claims the Model S 'early adopters' put up with problems that might not be tolerated by mass-market customers who buy the Model 3 as a daily driver.
JD Power's director of global automotive consulting, Kathleen Rizk, suggests expectations of the Model S and X were different because buyers of the expensive cars viewed themselves as being "early adopters" of new technology.
"Spending $100,000 or more on a vehicle that has so many problems usually would have a dramatically negative effect on sales and brand perception," she says. "Right now, though, Tesla seems immune from such disenchanted customers."
Consumer Reports surveys in 2015 noted problems with the Model S drivetrain, power equipment, charging hardware, center console display, squeaks and leaks, among other issues. Tesla CEO Elon Musk blamed the survey results on "early production cars."
The long-delayed Model X did not arrive without some teething problems of its own, including a problematic hinge system for its unique falcon-wing rear doors.
Tesla has claimed it is taking a more conservative approach with the Model 3, designing the car around streamlined production rather than focusing on overly ambitious features that pose a high risk of causing trouble on the assembly line. Getting production up to speed without excessive quality issues will presumably be critical if Tesla wants to achieve its production targets and begin clearning a backlog with hundreds of thousands of pre-orders.
"When consumers buy a mass-market car priced around $35,000 that will be their primary mode of transportation, the degree of expectation will increase immensel," Rizk says. "We've seen that with other well-liked brands, whether or not it involves an electric vehicle."
Tesla expects to begin delivering the first Model 3 sedans before the end of the year.