The strengths and weaknesses of Tesla

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A tesla is the first automaker in the world to put software at the center of its development. The electronic pioneer, who is located in the heart of the computer industry in Silicon Valley, confidently says of himself: 'At heart, we are a technology company that also builds the best cars in the world!' While the rest of the automotive world has so far mainly come from mechanical engineering and relies on dozens of control units distributed in the car, Tesla has favored a centralized computer structure from the start.

Jonas Greiner
At Tesla, the car is developed around the software.

There are wireless over-the-air updates - as with smartphones - the complete car software so far only at Tesla. Functions are improved and new ones added without a visit to the workshop. Tesla has its cars under remote control and is even changing performance and range. Even 90 percent of all typical problems can be addressed via online access. The other manufacturers, on the other hand, are only just building their skills. VW is currently struggling with massive software problems and is planning to have its new car software unit with up to 10,000 digital experts not completely finished until 2025.

One thing is certain: Tesla has a clear lead when it comes to software. How many years this is and whether it is impossible to catch up, however, the opinions of the experts differ.


While the rest of the car world - especially the German manufacturers - for years like to lecture about how many kilometers are statistically driven per day and that 150 km electric range is completely sufficient, Tesla has fully achieved the kilowatt hours from the start. According to the WLTP, no current Tesla model has a range of less than 400 km, and the Model S Long Range with 610 km even covers the longest distance of all production cars with oneBattery charge. In addition, the rumor mill is simmering that Tesla could come onto the market with 150 or even 200 kWh batteries as early as next year. The best batteries currently have a net usable energy density of around 160 Wh per kilogram.

Right from the start, Tesla relied on large batteries with a long range.

For the new batteries, this would have to be at least 240 Wh per kilogram increase. In fact, many experts are predicting another significant jump in energy density over the next few years. The bottom line is that larger batteries not only get you further, they also charge faster and last longer with the same use.

Whether Tesla also has a lead in battery cells is controversial. There are indications that Tesla is not fully satisfied with the particularly low cobalt-poor Panasonic battery cells and is tinkering with its own cells. Tesla boss Elon Musk has also stated that Tesla is aiming for a cell price of 100 US dollars per kilowatt hour this year. This is an important cost item in order to be able to manufacture e-cars as cheaply as combustion engines.

Speed ​​

Elon Musk has turned the greatest weakness of electric cars into their greatest strength. Before Tesla, the Stromer was decried as a secret box for eco-crazy, Musk has consistently put them on the acceleration lane and thus made electric cars sexy. Even the first roadster, with its overload-capable asynchronous motor, whizzed to 100 km /h in under four seconds, and later even the Model S and the X-seven-seater did it at Tesla. With the exception of the Porsche Taycan Turbo S, the competitors in the series sector have so far had little to oppose this YouTube-filling dragstrip omnipotence.

Rossen Gargolov
The battery located between the batteries lowers the center of gravity - good for the driving dynamics.

How important Musk is the subject of performance, the planned roadster with 2.1 seconds from 0 to 100 km /h and last year's Nürburgring performance tests show. At Tesla, it is not only the speed of acceleration that is impressive, but also how quickly Tesla introduces innovations. Regardless of whether it is sheer power, loading speed or new features. Tesla acts very quickly and unbureaucratically.

Driving resistance

While other manufacturers have pumped a lot of money into extreme lightweight construction, Tesla never got bogged down with carbon fiber and Co., but with classic aluminum steel -Mixed construction set.

Tesla recognized earlier than many competitors and experts that low weight need not be a priority in electric mobility. On the one hand, up to two thirds of the additional kinetic energy resulting from higher weight can be converted back into drive energy through recuperation. On the other hand, the deep-seated battery ensures a low center of gravity, which enables comparatively agile driving characteristics. In addition, Tesla relied on excellent aerodynamics from the start. The Model S shone early with cW 0.24, the Model 3 ideally even with 0.23, and the Model X is better than its competitors in the wind.

All Tesla models have an optimal configuration below a Cw value of 0.25.

It helps here that the models are designed as e-cars and not sit on combustion platforms to save costs. This allows the design to be consistently aerodynamic: dispensing with the radiator grille, smooth underbody, lowering the body at higher speeds, etc. Thus, especially with high air resistance, i.e. when driving fast on the motorway, the range drops less dramatically.


Despite huge batteries, aerodynamically optimized shape and in some cases seven seats, the Tesla models don't have one problem: too little trunk. On a pure e-car platformTesla was not only able to keep the space available compared to combustion engines, but in many cases even add one more.

On the other hand, electric cars with combustion platforms such as Audi e-tron or Mercedes EQC suffer from rather tight charging compartments. The trunk of a Model X measures 745 liters, that of an EQC only 500 liters. The trunk of the Model S is specified as 804 liters at the rear and 60 liters at the front. The Mercedes E-Class T-Model holds up against it with just 640 liters.

Hans-Dieter Seufert
With 745 liters, the Model X offers by far the best trunk volume in the class.

Only the Model 3 is more in the middle of its class with 425 liters. Nevertheless, it is very easy and practical to load with its additional front trunk.

Fast charging

Tesla has relied on high charging speeds from the start. Elon Musk did not wait until they had laboriously agreed on a common fast charging infrastructure, but instead had their own supercharger network installed worldwide in 2012 at a high cost. Knowing full well that without a network nobody buys the cars. There are now 500 locations in Europe with over 4,700 loading bays.

Hans-Dieter Seufert
The new V3 charging stations deliver electricity with up to 25 kW.

Tesla is there even took the risk of defying norms. The type 2 plug used is only specified up to a maximum of 70 kW direct current charging power, and Tesla still uses it for themdouble the direct current power. With compatibility with CCS and Chademo, Tesla now offers by far the largest charging network. The competition is mainly relying on the CCS network that is currently being set up with a charging capacity of up to 350 kW. After all, the German manufacturers are even a tad ahead of Tesla in terms of charging performance. Audi manages constant 150 kW charges of 20 to 80 percent battery content and Porsche even manages up to 270 at its peak. But Tesla counters with its V3 charging stations (previously only USA) with 250 kW.


Musk likes it radical and hates buttons. This not only shows the design of the Cybertruck, but also the very clean interior. With this mindset, he definitely started the trend towards very large screens in the car. The navigation, charging planning and entertainment controls are simple and intuitive. However, the tactic does not work with the standard functions. The disadvantages of this purism are that the hazard warning flasher switch has to be searched for in the headliner of a Model 3, the light or windscreen wiper control is partly in the submenu and not even a head-up display takes on a speedometer function in front of the driver.

Dino Eisele
Important standard functions are often in the submenu.

The lack of buttons and tachometers is only partly the operating philosophy: a large part is sober cost-driven, because the expensive Model S and X will - according to Tesla - continue to have instruments in front of the driver in the future. The fact is: Tesla menu control offers its advantages, but also a potential distraction that should not be underestimated while driving.

Autonomous driving

In theory, Tesla has here with its self-developed full self -Driving computers, immense camera equipment and tireless software engineers an advantage. But in practice the company has generated a lot of negative headlines with it. Even the choice of the name Autopilot in 2014 was extremely unfortunate for a system that is only supposed to support the driver and is definitely not yet an - still illegal - autopilot. Some Tesla drivers then used the exaggerated degrees of freedom when letting go of the steering wheel for stupid actions such as sleeping or shaving at the wheel. Also the reliability of theThe controls left a lot to be desired and even worsened when the Israeli camera supplier Mobileye parted ways with Tesla in 2016 on the grounds that the autopilot was not suitable for the current purpose, regardless of how it was turned.

With that As a result, the newer Tesla also lost the ability to recognize camera-based traffic signs (only from map material). That Tesla is a software company i

imago images
Accidents with autopilot involvement are investigated again and again.

st, where functions prefer to be introduced quickly and only on the road optimized does not contribute to building trust any more than regular reports of accidents in which the autopilot system is said to have been involved. So far, it is also unpleasant that many drivers had to pay a few thousand euros for the full autopilot capability without being able to use it completely.


Electric cars are up to medium speed almost basically quieter than their combustion counterparts. Nevertheless, there is also a large spread in acoustic comfort with them. Above all, the lack of noise masking by the internal combustion engine requires very intensive side and wind noise suppression. One of the quietest cars overall is the Mercedes EQC. At 80 km /h auto motor und sport measured just 60 dB, at 130 km /h it is only 65 dB. A Model X Long Range is 65 dB at 80, on the other hand, as loud as the EQC at 130 km /h.

Tyson Jopson
Tesla are quiet, but not the quietest in the electronic segment.

That one tooSuspension comfort still has potential: Tesla relies on a low vehicle height, especially on the autobahn, for aerodynamic reasons, thanks to comparatively little spring travel with firm damping. Overall, Tesla is not yet at the level of the best cars in the class in terms of response and damping.


Tesla has never met classic quality standards in body construction. Large, uneven gaps, skewed tailgates, water ingress and the like have so far not stopped fans from loving Tesla.

Tesla /Patrick Lang
Customers of the Tesla Model Y, which is recently on the US market, are increasingly complaining about quality problems in their vehicles.

Nevertheless: The Model 3 in particular torpedoed their loyalty with constant defects. At the end of 2019, the generally very Tesla-friendly car rental company Nextmove even canceled all newly ordered Model 3s because none of the first 15 cars handed over were error-free. Up to eight defects per copy were noted on the handover protocols. The fact is: Even if the quality of the models has noticeably improved, Tesla is still furthest away from its competitors here. According to Elon Musk, Model Y should deliver a huge leap in quality - but it also has to.


'Hell, hell, hell', is the name not only in a song by Wolfgang Petry , but that also fits in with the three hells through which Tesla had to or still has to go. According to Elon Musk, the production hell started at the end of 2017, the delivery hell followed at the beginning of 2019, and Tesla is now in the middle of the service hell. The service structures have not yet followed the sales growth. The Internet is full of Tesla customers who love their cars, but who have to put up with long waiting times and problems when servicing.

Long waiting times customers anger at workshop appointments.

Braking and heating efficiency

The Norwegian Automobile Federation (NAF) tested this winter 20 of the best-selling electric cars on their range properties. The results were widely spread: On average, the electric vehicles lost 18.5 percent of their original (heat) range in freezing temperatures. Whereby a Hyundai Kona even lost less than ten percent. The Model S, on the other hand, lost 26 percent of its range, but thanks to the largest battery, it was still further than the competition at 470 km. The most important reason: While Hyundai already uses a heat pump from the middle equipment line of the Kona, Tesla has so far dispensed with this energy-saving and quite expensive component. The heat pump will only move into Tesla cars with the Model Y.

Hans-Dieter Seufert
Tesla lose a lot of range in percentage terms in winter.

Tesla is also not at the top when it comes to recuperation. While Audi offers up to 220 kW of recuperation power (0.3 g delay) with the E-Tron, Tesla models are only in the double-digit kW range and thus below 0.2 g. In practice, normal driving also generates a constant 0.2 g of braking deceleration and almost twice as much at the top. Tesla has made its cars significantly more efficient in recent years through consistent model updates, but there is still a lot of potential here.


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