By Nick Carey
DETROIT (Reuters) - Consumer Reports said on Friday that Tesla Inc <TSLA.O> had apparently misunderstood the "average" reliability rating the magazine assigned to the electric carmaker's Model 3 sedan this week, calling it generally "positive" for an all-new vehicle.
Tesla criticized the rating on Thursday, saying "it's important to note that Consumer Reports has not yet driven a Model 3, let alone do they know anything substantial about how
the Model 3 was designed and engineered."
The rating for the Model 3, which is lower priced than earlier Tesla models and aimed at giving the Silicon Valley automaker mass market appeal, was part of magazine's annual survey of new vehicle reliability.
The survey predicts which cars will give owners fewer or more problems than their competitors, based on data collected. Its scorecard is influential among consumers and industry executives.
"Tesla seems to misunderstand or is conflating some of what we fundamentally do," the magazine, sometimes called the buyer's bible for car shoppers, said in a statement.
"Tesla appears unhappy that CR expects the new-to-market Tesla Model 3 to be of average reliability, which is generally a positive projection for any first model year of a car," the magazine said.
Tesla launched production of the Model 3, its newest car, over the summer.
Consumer Reports said its rating was based on 2,000 consumer survey response about Tesla models. It also noted that its survey listed Tesla's Model S sedan as the magazine's top rated car with "above average reliability for the first time ever."
Palo Alto, California-based Tesla said earlier this month that "production bottlenecks" had left it running behind in ramp-up plans for the Model 3, which is still short in supply with long waiting lists for deliveries.
"As with all the cars we review ... we will thoroughly test and evaluate the Model 3 with the same care and scrutiny we apply to all the cars we test just as soon as we can get one - we're waiting patiently along with other consumers," Consumer Reports said.
(Reporting by Nick Carey; editing by Tom Brown)