Tesla Inc.’s Model 3 sedan won a coveted recommendation from Consumer Reports after an over-the-air software update improved braking by almost 20 feet.
The influential magazine had initially declined to recommend the electric-car maker’s more mainstream model after testing showed it took longer to stop than a Ford F-150 pickup. The new software pushed by CEO Elon Musk addressed variations in braking styles and environmental conditions, a company spokeswoman told Consumer Reports.
In retesting after the software update was downloaded, the Model 3 sedan stopped in 133 feet from 60 miles per hour, an improvement of 19 feet. Jake Fisher, director of auto testing at Consumer Reports, described the improvement as unprecedented.
“I’ve been at CR for 19 years and tested more than 1,000 cars, and I’ve never seen a car that could improve its track performance with an over-the-air update,” he said in a statement.
Tesla shares jumped 3.4 percent to $293.47 at 1:05 p.m. New York time, paring their loss for the year to 6.4 percent.
The improved braking distances raised the Model 3’s overall score enough for the car to be recommended by the magazine, but testers still have concerns with wind noise, a stiff ride and an uncomfortable rear seat. Musk has told Consumer Reports that Tesla has already made changes to its production line to address those issues.
"CR will continue to evaluate updates and make changes to our scores as necessary," the magazine said.
“Really appreciate the high quality critical feedback from Consumer Reports,” Musk said in a tweet Wednesday. “Road noise and ride comfort already addressed too.”
Cars typically lose value over time as features become outdated. But Tesla regularly sends software updates to its customers’ vehicles similar to how Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc. upgrade their mobile phone operating systems. Musk said in his tweet that user interface improvements are “coming via remote software update later this month.”
Tesla’s ability to improve its cars with over-the-air updates “is unique, and highlights the company’s leadership position,” Ben Kallo, an analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co., said in a note to clients. He rates the stock a buy.
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