According to CNN, in early 2018 engineering consultant Sandy Munro, who tears apart and reverse-engineers cars to assess quality, issued a brutal appraisal of the Model 3 citing "flaws that we would see on a Kia in the '90s".
He noted inconsistencies such as uneven gaps between exterior panels and paint job issues, telling Autoline, "I can't imagine how they released this".
Surprisingly Musk, who has often bristled at criticism, agrees. "I thought your criticism was accurate", Musk told Munro in an interview that aired on Tuesday on the YouTube channel and podcast "Munro Live".
In the interview, Musk also admitted that it might not be a good idea to buy a Tesla during a new model's ramp-up period. Munro's "Kia" critique came when Tesla was still struggling to meet early production targets for the Model 3.
"Friends ask, 'When should I buy a Tesla?' Either buy it right at the beginning or when production reaches steady state. During that production ramp, it's super hard to be in vertical climb mode and get everything right on the details."
Munro also questioned Musk about quality control problems more recently. He bought a 2021 Model 3 late last year, and compared it to a Model 3 someone else purchased a month later -- and saw significant improvement.
"At the end of the day, this guy's car was fabulous ... as good as anybody could possibly do", Munro said.
"I just don't understand. Mine was built this month, his was built a month later. Mine had problems. His was perfect". Musk said Tesla continued to make progress even as recently as December of last year, noting that the company is finding problems more quickly as the pace of production continues to speed up.
"When you go faster, you just discover these thing... if we knew them in advance, we'd fix them in advance."