I am certainly not an electric vehicle expert nor do I pretend to know a lot about the technology that Tesla has packed into their Model S and Roadster. What I do know about is the demand that the driving public puts on a service facility when its vehicle is in for maintenance or repair, which might just make me qualified to speak to Tesla’s service model.
Tesla’s program – The car company is hoping that the need for hands on repair of their vehicle would be a rare occurrence. Most intervention is expected to be in the form of computer software updates accomplished through a data link and downloaded to the vehicle unobtrusively. As far as a wrench wielding technician actually touching the vehicle, this would be accomplished through one of their sparsely located service locations (9 out 10 in North America are within 100 miles of a Tesla Service Center) or by arranging for a Tesla Ranger to perform an onsite repair. A free valet service is being worked out at this time.
Service plans – Tesla’s menu of service packages for the Model S is actually fairly impressive. They range from an annual visit every 12,500 miles costing $600 to a four year plan with an extension carrying a price tag of $4800 which covers 100,000 miles and eight years of driving. Ranger visits cost $100 per visit and if I read their information correctly all parts except tires are covered under the various plans. Also your warranty is not dependent upon an annual visit. Roadster plans are considerably higher in price.
Tesla facing the real world – Vince Megna, the Wisconsin attorney whom the Washington Post called the “King of the Lemon Laws”, is representing a retired physician against Tesla alleging that his Model S had been in the shop for 66 days since its purchase in March 2013. Megna states in a video that the $98,000 vehicle is the first Tesla to be involved in a Lemon Law suit in America. Tesla’s response in a blog post disputes some of Megna’s claims including the malfunctioning of door handles, a serious effort by the plaintiff to initiate a buyback, and even asserts the possibility of tampering with fuses.
Conclusions – In many respects successful service is in the eyes of the beholders who, of course, in this case are the consumers. If Tesla owners perceive their vehicles to be of the very high quality that the car company claims and service issues are rare and handled through telematics, Tesla may be on its way to rewriting customer satisfaction indices. On the other hand, even if the product meets quality expectations but the need for even minor hands on attention becomes a necessity, Tesla may find itself faced with the quandary of how to placate owners who can’t stand to ever give up their beloved cars.
Tesla Service | Tesla Motors