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Tesla claims 40% panel gap improvement

The company says it's on par with Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW.

Tesla has received a healthy dose of criticism about the Model 3's haphazard panel gaps. Examples built early in the production run suffered from glaring build quality issues even eager early adopters couldn't ignore. That's all in the past, according to the company. It claims its gaps are now on par with Germany's finest.

Michigan-based Munro & Associates recently purchased a pair of Model 3s and spent 6,000 hours tearing them down. The firm concluded the only constant in the Model 3's panel gaps is inconsistency, which echoes what many owners, analysts, and journalists have pointed out since deliveries started last July.

"Panel gaps are inconsistent around the same car as well as between cars. Many gaps exceed accepted norms for any price class, though the later car shows signs of improvement," Munro & Associates found, according to Motor Trend.

Tesla responded to the report.

"Since we began shipping Model 3 last year, we have been very focused on refining and tuning both part and body manufacturing processes. The result being that the standard deviation of all gaps and offsets across the entire car has improved, on average, by nearly 40%, with particular gap improvements visible in the area of the trunk, rear lamps and rear quarter panel," the company wrote in a statement.

It added the Model 3 is now competitive with comparable models made by Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and BMW. But, "in the spirit of relentless improvement," it's working to make its cars' panel gaps even tighter. It can talk the talk; time will tell if it can walk the walk, too.

It's not all bad news for the California-based company. Munro & Associates reported Tesla's electronics are better than its rivals' and called Model 3's ventilation system innovative. It also praised Tesla for building the best battery pack in the business.