Bob Lutz Says Tesla Model 3’s Panel Gaps Are Now “World-Class”

Bob Lutz, the retired veteran of the auto industry, was apparently impressed by the fit and finish of a Tesla Model 3 he spotted in a parking lot.

Lutz’s views of Tesla have been mixed for years but apparently he couldn’t help but praise the EV maker after inspecting a random Model 3 he found sitting in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

In an article on Road & Track, Lutz says that he was eager to see for himself if the wildly reported sketchy assembly work of the Tesla Model 3 was real but apparently the car in front of him left him “stunned”.

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“Not only was the paint without any discernible flaw, but the various panels formed a body of precision that was beyond reproach,” Lutz writes. “Gaps from hood to fenders, doors to frame, and all the others appeared to be perfectly even, equal side-to-side, and completely parallel. Gaps of 3.5 to 4.5mm are considered word-class. This Model 3 measured up.”

Despite praising the manufacturing quality of Tesla’s entry-level model, Lutz added that he remains critical of the company’s business model and Musk’s strategy. He has expressed his concern in the past about Tesla’s inability to turn a profit, criticizing the company’s need to raise more capital due to its high costs but apparently he doesn’t have anything bad to say about the fit and finish of the Model 3.

Lutz added that small, even panel gaps require precise design and engineering, modern equipment but also leadership focus, “something that Tesla clearly has”.

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  • Six_Tymes

    Well, that certainly is good news, especially coming from Mr. Lutz. On the other hand, he only saw one, and so does not necessarily mean all current production 3’s look as good as that one, or does it? I do hope Tesla has production QC now in line, because I want to see the new upcoming sports car, and it be impressive.

  • Bash

    Someone give him back his glasses please.

    • Karl

      And someone should take away your keyboards…

      • Bash

        lol all of them?

    • Knotmyrealname

      This is based upon personal experience?

      • Bash

        Well man the panels gaps are obvious!

        • Knotmyrealname

          …..unlike your grammar.

      • Paul

        They were world class before though. In a world of their own that is.

      • TED Schmitt

        Why would it be?

  • GS27

    Now go find 10 more and see how many are just like it.

    • Knotmyrealname

      And this is based upon personal experience?

      • McFly

        Yes, finding 10 Teslas is a personal experience. Are you a personal experience?

        • Knotmyrealname

          Thankfully not yours

          • McFly

            Based upon personal experience?

          • Knotmyrealname

            Based upon my body parts remaining in their intended diameter.

  • Paul

    I beg to differ Mr. Lutz.

    • Knotmyrealname

      Based upon personal experience?

  • Mr. EP9

    Going to need to see more than one to determine how good the the fit and finish Mr. Lutz. I saw a Model 3 in person myself and I was not impressed.

  • Netsphere

    Lutz is old fart he must have had his reading glasses on.

  • I GUESS WE’LL SEE A YOUTUBE VIDEO OF HIM INSPECTING THE CAR IN A”SENRTY MODE”.

    • Jason Miller

      That would actually be hilarious.

  • MD

    I have a model S from 2014. My panel gaps aren’t lexus consistent, but they are pretty good. The model 3s of my 2 coworkers are pretty solid. Their panel gaps and paint are fine. Both had some interior trim defects that were corrected at a Tesla service center. It’s all anecdotal of course, but I think the manufacturing issues are largely ironed out. It’s the lack of profitability and the unfortunate antics of the CEO that are going to be the problem.

  • Stephen G

    My Saturn Vue (with a Honda V6) had some gaps you can put your foot into…I could care less …one of the best cars I ever owned.

    • Jeff Scott

      The only Vues left on the road have the Honda engine.. look around next time u see one on the road. It’s the sports model .. Honda engine. GM should of bought more of those engines…

      • Stephen G

        Mine was not the Red Line

    • TED Schmitt

      And you spent how much on your Vue?

      • Stephen G

        Just under $28K out the door.

    • James Denz

      You cared then. Zero cares would be “I couldn’t care less.” You can’t care less than zero.

  • TrevP

    Based on personal experience the panel gaps are pretty noticeable on most I see. But its also easy for me to look past it. We have always been ones to really take care of our vehicles and currently own a RR and a BMW where fit and finish are perfect. So for us, they are noticeable and definitely something that needs to be addressed. I also understand the demand for Tesla’s and how new the company is. Where I live they are selling like hot cakes. My neighbor has 2 model 3’s and another an S. Once you get in a Tesla and drive it. You won’t be thinking about the panel gaps. Currently deciding if we want a 3, S or X.

    • BlackPegasus

      Is there an index that tracks the sales of “hotcakes” nationally or globally? 😁

      • TrevP

        hahah no clue, but here in Seattle, they are everywhere!

  • eb110americana

    The “quality issues” with the Model 3 have been blown way out of proportion for editorial purposes. I took a ride in one in the middle of 2018, and I was expecting something much more average. It was absolutely flawless everywhere I looked. I live in LA, so I see them everywhere, and like Lutz, I take a look whenever I see one parked. Yes, there are a select few early production units where gaps are slightly larger on one side of the panel than the other–but if those are the only issues you can find, then you’re just looking for something to complain about.

    • Silimarina

      Acctualy, no. Tesla’s quality problems are 3 times higher than the average

  • cooper

    Lutz is probably one of most insecure auto executives when it comes to Tesla.

  • BlackPegasus

    I’m hoping the Model Y will have less introductory flaws since it’s based on the Model 3. I’m patiently waiting for Tesla to get their QC issues in order before I pull the trigger.

    • James Denz

      I’ve seen two of them on the road so far. Nicely built but awkward looking at best.

  • TheBelltower

    Is Lutz suffering from some sort of FOMO panic disorder because of Tesla? Clearly he now feels burned that he didn’t build an EV2 during his tenure at GM. Just so we are clear on the kind of mental giant we are talking about here, this is one of Lutzs’ technological marvels during the last few years of his tenure at GM. The designers and every other layer of management must have been on opioids to approve this thing and produce it for thirteen years. The last thing I care to hear from Lutz is his opinion on Tesla.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/64725eee0e9fe6c5bce9b45d9bc86bdf963a5949a762eb257cb070a3d620867c.png

    • BlackPegasus

      Didn’t Lutz have a hand in bringing the Chevy Volt to production? Or is that revisionist history? 🤔

      • TheBelltower

        The Volt still uses gas and requires the same supply chain as any car. To keep his overlords happy.

        • Matt

          So what if it uses the same supply chain? I’m not arguing against most of your points but no need to invent silly reasons why Lutz wasn’t a good leader.

    • rodriguez256

      While normally I would agree with you I owned a 2001 Monte Carlo SS. I loved that car, didn’t have a V8 sure but it wasn’t a slouch. I wouldn’t mind having another one some day perhaps even the final year they made them.

      • TheBelltower

        Get one after the 06 refresh.

        • rodriguez256

          Yea, a black or blue SS would be nice.

    • Six_Tymes

      are you OK?

      • TheBelltower

        Generally speaking, yes.

        • Knotmyrealname

          ..Except when someone mentions Bob Lutz and you start rocking back and forth in a corner…
          😉

          • TheBelltower

            I’ll see if there are meds for this.

    • James Denz

      I like those old Monte Carlos. They drove well and were extremely roomy inside despite being coupes, even in the back seat. I still see a lot of them.

  • SteersUright

    I see them often in Miami. They certainly look as well made as anything else. That said, I think they’re absolutely hideous, despite also being a bit cool just by being different. Why is it so hard for Tesla to make a beautiful car? Every car they make has some appeal for sure but, not one of them can be called beautiful.

  • Craig

    I sure read that headline wrong. I took it to be completely sarcastic.

  • TED Schmitt

    Lutz is either being sarcastic, or he wasn’t wearing his glasses.

  • Maricaibo

    I want a used VIA pickup, Bob. Sell any lately?

  • JqC

    Is that guy still criticizing Tesla’s business model? These guys just don’t spend enough time actually thinking about their business model and understanding the steps being taken. I am continually baffled by people who cannot understand why Tesla isn’t yet making a profit. Far less, the ones who’ve been at the top of the auto industry. You’d think they’d completely understand the daunting execution needed to get to scale in a saturated supplier market where most brands make a 5 to 8% margin on products.

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