Tesla Model 3 becomes a best-seller but still has problems

Despite Elon Musk's wrangling with the Securities and Exchange Commission, his Tesla Model 3 has become one of America's best-selling sedans. In September, Tesla delivered more Model 3s than all but four Japanese sedans -- Toyota Corolla and Camry and Honda Civic and Accord.

Tesla overall also has been outselling some of its luxury rivals. In September, Tesla sold 69,925 vehicles in the U.S. while Mercedes-Benz reported 66,542 sales.

But even as Tesla seems to have solved its previous production problems with the Model 3s, getting cars to customers who have already ordered them remains a challenge, according to CleanTechnica.com.

Tesla has relatively few stores compared with the hundreds of dealerships for each major brand. So Model 3s often are parked at their destination city where they await delivery to customers.  

A Salt Lake City customer tweeted to Musk on Sept. 16 that her car was sitting in a rail yard there while her delivery date kept getting pushed back. Megan Gale tweeted:

"There are 42 Tesla's sitting at the Union Pacific Railroad in SLC. My car is one of these. I've been told I was getting delivery the 8th, then the 15th, then the 20th, then the 22nd, and now my delivery has been delayed indefinite. Please make this right."

Musk responded: "Sorry we've gone from production hell to logistics hell. We're  making rapid progress. Should be solved shortly."

On Sept. 19, a buyer in Seattle who had put down a $1,000 deposit for a Model 3 told a similar story on the Tesla customer forum of delayed delivery while many Model 3s sat at the local Tesla service center.

Confirming that the problem is widespread, Electrek, another green car website, commented on Sept. 5 that "Electrek talked with several Model 3 buyers who have experienced significant delivery delays and frustrating radio silence from Tesla's customer service."

Nonetheless, if Tesla can solve these issues, not only could the Model 3 be one of the country's best-selling sedans but Tesla could also be the best-selling auto brand made entirely in the U.S. 

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    Jerry Edgerton, author of Car Shopping Made Easy, has been covering the car beat since Detroit companies dominated the U.S. market. The former car columnist for Money magazine and Washington correspondent for Business Week, Edgerton specializes in finding the best deals on wheels and offering advice on making your car last.