Tesla Model X owner Barrett Lyon of California has filed a lawsuit against Tesla over his Model X, claiming that his is a flawed and unfixable vehicle, and thus in violation of California's "Lemon Law" statutes. According to Courthouse News Service, he was up to this point a happy Tesla owner, having previously owned a Model S and Roadster. But the Model X was not to his liking, and a lot of it comes down to the doors.
Here are the allegations:
- The driver's door, which opens on approach and closes when the brake pedal is pressed, will attempt to close if the driver depresses the brake pedal while his other leg is still in the opening. Personally, having driven the car for a few days, I never experienced anything like this nor could I imagine the contortions required to make that happen being comfortable (but perhaps Mr. Lyon is more flexible than I). Regardless, the door responded to the action taken by the driver — there are only sensors to stop the door when opening, none to monitor the opening when it's been directed to close.
- The front doors are equipped with motors to open and close them and sensors that are supposed to stop the doors before they hit other objects. And while I personally did not see the doors hit other things — they frequently stopped with several inches of clearance still available — I will admit to frequently being unnerved by the opening action. That said, Lyon is not alone in this claim, as several other Model X owners have reported their front doors opening into columns, other cars, and more. Interestingly, the complicated and extremely unnerving falcon wing doors of the Model X aren't called out in the suit, only the front doors.
- "The touch screen freezes repeatedly" — this is a known issue, and one that Tesla still needs to address. While the Model S and Model X have possibly the most advanced in-car computer system available, its reliability record is not something to be admired (even if it does meet or exceed what we get from other car manufacturers). It's not a great sign when one of the first "tricks" a Tesla owner learns is how to restart the car's computers.
- The auto-park feature "does not work 90 percent of the time." While I cannot speak for Mr. Lyon's experience with auto-park, I used it several times in my time with the Model X and it was only when the driver didn't trust the car to pick up the parking spot and stopped before driving fully past did the feature fail to register a spot as available for parking.
- The "second row seat causes driver's seat to fold forward" … I don't even know what this is supposed to mean. Is he talking about how when the second row seats are slid forward to provide access to the third row — an action a human must deliberately take — that the front row seat will also nudge forward a few inches to provide some extra clearance? I'm not sure that counts as a fault in the car; it might be something you don't like, but that's working exactly as designed.
- "Auto Pilot in the rain is extremely dangerous. … It causes the car to swerve into different lanes." This is distinctly possible, but also an edge case. As Tesla states very clearly, Autopilot is a beta product, and it requires the driver to be paying attention whenever it is engaged and both be ready to take control of the vehicle should the car encounter a situation it is not equipped to handle as well as take control when the car is taking an action they believe to be unsafe. Beta.
Lemon Laws exist to allow customers to pursue recourse when sold a fundamentally flawed vehicle. California's Lemon Law (the Son-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act) requires that the manufacturer make a "reasonable number of repair attempts" to correct the flaw and if they are unable to fix it then they are required to replace or repurchase the vehicle.
According to Lyon's suit, Tesla has been "unable to fix" the car, and he is seeking a full refund of his $161,970 purchase price along with damages for breach of warranty and California Lemon Law violations, as well as the costs of his lawsuit.
Tesla Motors did not respond to our request for comment.