Miami's EV Garage is South Florida's first independent electric vehicle service center, offering two locations and a lot of know-how on the new technology. We recently spoke with EV Garage Tech Lead Jose Roura about the new territory of servicing and modifying Teslas and other EVs, along with a handful of other topics.
Above: EV Garage Miami (Note: EVANNEX is using the photo above with express permission from EV Garage Miami).
Roura has been working with EVs for over a decade, with past experience at Tesla and with BMW's hybrid and all-electric offerings. While EV Garage Miami is somewhat of a new venture, Roura says the independent EV shop is already gaining traction for filling an important void in the auto community.
You can read our full interview with EV Garage Miami Tech Lead Jose Roura below.
EVANNEX: Can you tell me about how EV Garage Miami started?
Jose: We did a market study of the sales of vehicles and the growing trend that was going on. I mean, I was working for Tesla so I kind of knew the amount of vehicles that were being sold every single day, compared to other manufacturers, at least here in the U.S. And it’s evident that they just made a trend that there’s no going back from.
So yeah, it started with two investors that had this vision and they brought me along, and from there on, I started bringing people from different areas — some from Tesla, some from independent shops — that have helped build this into what it’s coming to be.
EVANNEX: Would you say most of the people that you work with have some kind of auto background then?
Jose: Yes, most of them. Everybody that’s here has experience with vehicles or has had the drive to know more or learn. We’re pushing towards giving training and showing people who want to get into this, also serving as a small school, if you want to put it that way. So we’re heading in that direction as well.
EVANNEX: So you said before that you were working at Tesla — how did you personally get into servicing EVs?
Jose: I started in 2008 with BMW. You know, luxury company, performance vehicles, racing applications, and people love customizing their BMWs. They also have their own clubs and fans for their vehicles, but ever since I started with them, I kept growing within the company as a technician, and I was one of the first to go into training in getting involved in their hybrid and electric vehicle program.
Many people didn’t want to be involved in it. It was new, it was different and people didn’t want to — they were happiest where they were. But I was always intrigued by it, and as I got involved with it, I saw the amount of research and development that these companies were putting towards this. So I saw the potential in this. Also, the competition behind it, because it was so new.
This came with a bunch of curves, like parts availability, and the same engineers who were designing the vehicles had very little information to go off of. So with all this, one thing led to another, and I was one of the few in South Florida from all the dealers that were working on the i8s, the i3s from BMW, which were the electrics and the hybrids.
Then everything just moved forward and Tesla came along. I was about to start with Tesla in 2014, if I’m not mistaken, here in Florida. ‘14 or ‘15. And I was afraid because this was when Tesla was in danger. I mean you can even find that online. I regret it now that I didn’t take the jump [Laughs]. So I stayed with BMW for a couple more years, and then finally jumped ship in 2020 right around the pandemic. I worked with Tesla up until now.
Yeah, Tesla was different. Very steep, fast learning curve and it’s extremely fast-paced, Tesla is. It’s crazy. And I understand how they’ve become what they’ve become really, in as little as 10 years, after the Model S in 2012. I mean, I know they had the Roadster from before, but their main flagship car was the Model S, and after that, it’s been nonstop.
EVANNEX: What are some of the most common services you see Tesla owners coming into EV Garage for?
Jose: The most common that everybody’s familiar with is tires. Tesla drivers love their tires like we love our ice cream. Yeah, they love tires. There are alignments that we do frequently on vehicles, there are some aftermarket suspension components that we install to help with the alignment that helps a lot with tires, so they last a little bit longer. I mean, actually twice the length.
But yeah, people come in to customize their vehicles all the time: spoilers, side skirts, tinting windows. We’re in South Florida so this is very common, to tint your windows — it helps with the heat and the sun. Charge port doors. So many people just are not familiar with using charge port doors, or it’s open while charging and somebody walks by it and they just rip the door apart. So yeah, it’s very common to the charge port doors.
Wipers and cabin filters. Again, with the sun and the rain out here once the rainy season starts, we do wipers all the time. The suspension components get really worn out because of the performance of the vehicles and the amount of power. It puts a lot of strain on the suspension components and also potholes, and the weight of the vehicle. So we do a lot of suspension components — front and upper control arms they start squeaking, lower control arms start cracking and coming apart.
And then you have your regular fender bender problems, we do them all the time. Front bumper harness repairs or rear bumper harness repairs because you got rear-ended. Or your parking sensors.
Those are the most common things we see here. Other than that, it’s just regular surprise things that we are not used to seeing.
EVANNEX: What are some things you think potential Tesla buyers should know before purchasing?
Jose: The one main thing for people who are fully considering purchasing a vehicle, so they’ve already done the research, now they’re actually considering it, is range anxiety. Some people are adamant and are like ‘No, I’ll never own an EV vehicle’ — until you get into one. But yeah, the main topic that I usually hear people talk about is the range anxiety.
The range anxiety is real. I for a while used to be one [of those people that struggled with it.] But it’s really easy to overcome. Like after a couple of weeks of using your vehicle, you learn. It's like a gas, you just learn how much it's gonna give you and if you're gonna run empty. People are just afraid that when you go empty it's gonna take forever to charge. Instead of, if you go empty your gas tank, somebody can come over for $5 worth of fuel at a gas station in a couple of minutes.
That is true, but in reality, there are many ways of avoiding this happening. And once you get into these vehicles — not just Tesla, many of the electric vehicles — they have mapped out charging stations in your area, you have a charge, and you're gonna get somewhere.
It’s something you learn extremely quick, and it’s not something that’s going to be a steep learning curve or that’s gonna be a problem. Not at all. It’s easier than getting a new phone. Like you know when you get a new phone and you’re like ‘Now I gotta pass all my contacts and hear how this works.’ No, it’s easier than that, and it goes super quick.
And once you start seeing the benefits of it, with home charging — so basically, you're refueling at home, you don't stop at a gas station — it's something you actually take out of your to-do list, it’s one less thing. You take it home, you plug it in, and you’re done. The next day you have a full tank and you don’t gotta fill it up again for four days, depending on your driving habits. So yeah, that's one of the things.
The other one I hear a lot is the Full Self-Driving and the Autopilot. You know, this is all over the news and people are talking about it. So yeah, the FSD, which is Full Self-Driving, is still in development. Once it's out and fully functional, it'll be a game changer.
But it's still working its kinks out, because of the innumerable variables out there, between people crossing the street and variables in the road. I mean, anything really can interfere with the system, and it's still learning. But once it's out, it's gonna be awesome.
The other one, which is the Enhanced Autopilot, is a great system. It works on the highways and also changes lanes for you. I mean, it’s still a computer. That’s what I like telling people: it’s still a computer, and it can only react as fast as it can. It will never have, at least for now, the reflex or the capabilities a human mind has.
It can’t really make an assessment of what’s going on on the highway next to you with a car driving unsafe, and you knowing to keep your distance from that car. The computer doesn’t have that logic yet. So once you learn all this, it's a really good system, and you just gotta keep your eye on it. But other than that, it’s a great system and it keeps working. Whoever has it and has been using it, they know the capabilities of it, and it’s just gonna keep evolving and getting better and better.
I mean, I like to tell people everything I can think of before purchasing these vehicles, so it doesn't come as a surprise.
The regen, [or regenerative braking,] it might be unusual at first when you let go of the gas pedal and the car kind of brakes by itself. But once you get used to it, which just takes maybe two or three drives, there’s no going back. You get used to it. Once you learn the distance to let go of the gas pedal and everything else, it’s actually a really cool feature on the electric vehicles.
And it’s not just Tesla. All the electric vehicles use the same system for regen and they all react the same way. Maybe some harsher than others, but yeah, they are there for a reason and the way it works because of the motor.
So once you get used to it, and you get used to the power, the response, and the technology and these vehicles, it's hard to turn back. It's hard to get into another vehicle which you had. You thought you had a great performance vehicle, and now you're getting into this? Oof, it changes everything. I can’t even begin to describe until you get into one.
EVANNEX: Yeah, I’ve definitely heard that from a handful of people. Once you get past that initial learning stage, it just kind of becomes this cutting edge piece of tech.
EVANNEX: I think that’s super interesting. Moving on, what do you think makes the Tesla community different from other automotive communities?
Jose: I’ve known personally and been part of BMW fans. As I mentioned, I was at BMW for many years. And they're pretty hardcore. They love their racing. They love their vintage vehicles. They love their history. And they’re always reminiscing on the oldies, ‘Oh no, this vehicle was the best one,’ or ‘this one in the 80s was the best one.’ Tesla is new, Tesla is fresh, and Tesla came to make a stand.
Many of the Tesla owners are fans but in a different way. They're very supportive of the brand. It's not just fans like, blindly following something just because ‘my dad had it’ or whatever. No, no, they understand that this vehicle is still a work in progress, but it’s with a company that's perfected manufacturing, such as Volkswagen or Toyota, in a span of eight years. [Volkswagen and Toyota] have been around for a hundred years, give or take.
And they have seen the impact they've done in the world, and they want to take part of it. People want to take part of what they're doing. It’s not just ‘Oh yeah, I have a Tesla, let’s go to a meetup.’ No, they follow them from right on their phone, what the company is doing.
I mean, many of these other fans, for many other companies, I would say 80 percent of them, don't know what's going on with the manufacturer behind closed doors. With Tesla, everybody's aware of what's going on, even though it's all over the news, everything that you can see. But people know Tesla is out to make a difference. And they want to be a part of it.
Then, like I said, they get involved with the company and all that entails. Most people know the vision, like they actually say, ‘Yeah, they exist to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport, sustainable energy,’ which Tesla is not only doing it with their cars, they’re doing it with the solar panels, the charging network, and so on and so forth. They keep innovating on so many things, not just the cars.
I mean, the people are very aware of what they're purchasing and what they're getting themselves into, in a way that they’re not just doing it for they're doing it not just for themselves to get into a luxury vehicle, or cutting edge technology, like you mentioned. No, they know they're getting into something that's going to change the world, which it is already, at least on the transportation side.
EVANNEX: Definitely. The Tesla community just keeps growing.
Jose: Correct. And with the Tesla community comes the customization of vehicles. To be honest, they're super plain outside. There's not many lines, there’s not many trims that make this car more aggressive than the other. No, you have a Model Y Performance and a basic Model Y, the difference is the wheels — from the outside. If you know more, you can see the brakes are different, and so on and so forth. But there's nothing really too distinct from one to the other, other than the little badge in the back.
So people have gone above and beyond, and companies such as EVANNEX and many other companies, and they’ve made so many products to customize your vehicle your own way. And there's so many variables that every time there's a Tesla meet, you see so many different things people do to their vehicles. It's amazing. It's amazing what can be done to these cars, just on the cosmetic side, that’s without talking performance. I mean, the suspension, upgrading brakes. I mean, this community is pretty involved in what Teslas are, and can be.
EVANNEX: Are there any questions you think I missed that I should ask?
I mean, regarding EVANNEX, Tesla or EV garage, we’re a new company, we started to basically open our doors in October for Tesla customers, give or take. September or October. It hasn't been long. We've been pretty busy, and we feel the need for this when seeing how much every customer is in need of help. They rely only on Tesla, this is in South Florida, to service their vehicles, to fix their vehicles.
They've come to us as a last resort, because they're like, ‘I don't know what else to do. There's no appointments for two months,’ or ‘they told us we need a brand new battery and it ended up being something else.’ Which they want to figure it out over there, but they didn't take the car in to diagnose it and give you a final verdict of what's going on with your vehicle. They just give you a quick assessment remotely, and then after that it will take further investigation to make sure it is what you need.
But yeah, we've been a lifeline for a lot of people. And yeah, the market is growing, but we also suffer the consequences of going into a new market, meaning there's some parts that are not available yet or you gotta wait a long time for some parts, which becomes a hassle. The only good thing about that is they gotta wait for it here or from the dealer anyway, so it wouldn't make a difference from a service center or with us.
But we do see the constraints in that. We do see the fact that since it's a growing brand, there's nothing aftermarket parts still available. Like, you can’t find, well now you can, but you couldn't find an aftermarket headlight, for example. So you will have to get a used one, something from eBay, or straight from the dealer. Taillights? Yes. There's several companies that have the taillights. Bumpers now, they have aftermarket bumpers.
So yeah, the industry keeps growing and moving towards providing all these parts, but there are very specialized parts still that you can’t find. The charge port door, for example that I talked about. You have to get it from Tesla, because nobody has it. A charge port — you gotta get it from Tesla.
But there's ways around it, there's always something we can find from a charge port door we've done before, maybe a motor went bad. We take it apart, and then another one comes in with a broken door. So we can use the other door that had the motor bad, we swap the motors to work with the other and voila: we have a good, working charge port door. You know what I mean? So those are the kinds of things we've been working with. And, and yeah, it's taught us a lot on how you evolve with this.
You can check out EV Garage Miami for all your Tesla and EV servicing and customization needs at their website or you can follow them (and learn more) on social media: Facebook / Instagram / LinkedIn / YouTube.