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Consumer Reports On Tesla Motors

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Tesla Shows Warning Signs: Stay Away Unless You're a True Believer By The Street

Shares of Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) fell as much as 4% midday Tuesday after Consumer Reports published a report questioning the quality of the electric vehicle manufacturer's Model X SUV. If the report caught any investors off guard, shame on them.

As Consumer Reports noted, a quick search of Tesla owner message boards produces an abundance of complaints about the X's falcon wing doors and other complaints about quality. Tesla founder Elon Musk earlier this month admitted to "hubris" in packing so much unproven technology inside the Model X, causing considerable complexity and delay.

Consumer Reports, after calling Tesla's Model S among the best vehicles it ever reviewed in 2013, has more recently tempered that praise, noting that in the magazine's most recent annual reliability survey the Model S had a worse than average overall problem rate including problems with drive-train, power equipment and body and roof rattles and leaks.

Tesla has admitted to problems with the early Model X cars and is taking steps that the company said should leave future owners more satisfied with their new vehicles. A company spokesperson told Consumer Reports that while Tesla has "seen some issues with early Model X builds, the issues are not widespread, and we are working closely with each owner to respond quickly and proactively to address any problems."

The more important question for investors is whether the company will be able to take what it has learned, including resisting the temptation of cramming future vehicles with every new bell and whistle, into its forthcoming economy Model 3. While uncertainty over Tesla's future capital needs still lingers, with Model 3 orders coming in ahead of even internal expectations, the bull/bear case for the company largely comes down to whether an investor believes Tesla will be able to produce the Model S as scheduled, and whether or not the vehicle will live up to the hype.

But with the Model 3 introduction and order enthusiasm now in the background, most of the headlines in the near-term from Tesla figure to be neutral at best. And if Tuesday's move downward based on information that was already publicly available is any indication, there is a good bit of jitteriness among investors in the stock.

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