Tesla, Elon Musk, and the future of electric vehicle repair – Vox.com
A brand-new Model 3 delivered in desperate need of repair, due to a faulty computer, an inoperable wireless phone charger, and a missing USB port. A supposedly fixed Tesla returned unfixed, and with something spilled on the car, damaging the paint. A dead mouse and rat poison discovered in a Tesla’s front trunk after a trip to the local service center.
These are just a few of the issues about Tesla service that customers have flagged in complaints filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Through a public records request, Recode obtained details about more than 1,000 complaints about Tesla, including more than 120 customer reports that discussed specific problems with service, delays, and parts. These reports reflect a growing frustration with the company over its approach to maintenance and repairs — discontent that’s echoed everywhere from Tesla owner Reddit posts to online forums for Tesla shareholders to the more than 9,000 reports that the company’s customers have sent to the Better Business Bureau. The complaints point to all sorts of problems with the experience of owning a Tesla vehicle, including an inadequate number of service centers, limited stock of replacement parts, bad communication, poor manufacturing quality, and long wait times for repair appointments.
Part of the frustration is that EVs are supposed to be easier to maintain than internal combustion vehicles. They don’t need oil changes, have fewer moving parts, and use regenerative braking, which means brake pads last longer. Tesla even says that it “designs every Tesla vehicle with the goal of eliminating the need for service.” Among car owners who do need service, however, Tesla drivers tend to visit service centers at nearly the same rate as the owners of premium gas-powered vehicles, such as Lexus or Audi, according to data the consumer research firm J.D. Power shared with Recode.
Tesla’s approach to service is also frustrating some customers. While automakers like Ford and GM enlist a network of thousands of dealerships and independent mechanics to fix their vehicles, it appears the vast majority of Tesla repairs tend to be completed by Tesla technicians employed or authorized by the company. Tesla warns customers that damage or failures caused by technicians who aren’t Tesla-certified won’t be covered by the company’s warranty policy. In the past, Tesla has also opposed legislation that supports the right-to-repair movement, which advocates for making it easier for people to repair their own devices and equipment.
Meanwhile, Tesla’s manufacturing output has historically increased at a significantly higher rate than the number of Tesla service centers, which, again, the vast majority of current Tesla owners rely on. The number of cars Tesla produced grew 68 percent in the first quarter of this year, compared to the same quarter last year, but the number of store and service locations grew by only 20 percent. Meanwhile, Tesla’s mobile service fleet — this is made up of Tesla mechanics that travel to a location of the customer’s choosing to complete repairs — grew by 35 percent. During the company’s annual stockholders meeting earlier this month, some Tesla investors questioned when the company would increase its current service capacity, which they say can’t support the number of Teslas on the road.
“Service has been a problem, but it has not affected sales in the least bit,” Rich Benoit, who runs a YouTube channel focused on Tesla repairs, explained. “So Tesla will not focus on this …….