Tesla’s New Initiatives Aim To Improve Service

JUL 29 2018 BY STEVEN LOVEDAY 17

It’s no secret Tesla has had intermittent issues with service, but now it appears the automaker is working rapidly toward improvement.

Tesla is quickly transitioning from a small, niche automaker to a major presence. This is mostly due to the massive popularity of the company’s more affordable Model 3 sedan. The impacts of such growth are widespread, so the automaker must make every effort to assure that components like infrastructure and service are ramped up accordingly.

Tesla Service Center availability was a major concern even before the advent of the Model 3. It’s no surprise that as more owners take delivery of their Tesla vehicles, more locations and parts need to be available. Tesla recently experienced a plethora of problems servicing vehicles in Norway, which is the automaker’s largest market per capita. Being that this could be a foreshadow of what lies ahead as other markets grow, Tesla is making moves to fix the issues.

In order to resolve the problems in Norway, the company proposed an increase in staff and service center capacity. However, there was no statement about how the automaker planned to solve the problem of lack of parts. According to Electrek, with this new initiative, Tesla has already tripled its ability to distribute parts in North America. This is due to a new parts center located in California. The automaker also has plans to open another distibution center in Europe.

Tesla recently released a statement regarding the company’s upcoming efforts to improve service:

“Our global customer satisfaction scores for service are above 90% and at a high of 97% for our mobile service program, which lets us service vehicles in customers’ driveways or at their offices. Even in North America where our customer-base has grown by 75% over the last year, customer satisfaction for service has remained consistently above 90%. Tesla has also topped Consumer Reports’ customer satisfaction survey two years in a row, with 90% of Tesla owners saying they would buy the same car again – more than any other brand. While we’re incredibly proud of the customer support and service we offer, we’re always working to improve. Here are some of the programs underway to make sure all Tesla customers have an even more exceptional experience:

  • Last quarter, we opened a new parts distribution center in California, which has tripled our fulfillment capacity for parts in North America and is helping to expedite the supply of parts to third party body shops. We’re in the process of opening a similar fulfillment center in Europe, which we expect to have the same impact.
  • For the first time, we’re trialing a small network of our own body repair shops in select markets to accommodate light repairs, with the opportunity to expand the program based on customer feedback and results. Given the overwhelming success of our mobile service program, we are expanding the program from 25% coverage globally to 40% coverage globally by the end of the year.
  • While our call volumes have increased dramatically due to the overwhelming excitement around Model 3, this hasn’t impacted our ability to respond to emergency roadside events. We have plans in place to hire additional staff to support customers in the event that they are unable to find their answers on Tesla.com/Support or in their Tesla account.
  • We are aggressively hiring and expanding in markets where our customer satisfaction scores for service are below average. In Norway, for instance, we have already grown our service team by 30% compared to last year, and we’re in the process of opening a large new service center in Oslo this year. Recent feedback from customers in Norway indicates that the improvements have already made a difference.”

Source: Electrek

Categories: Tesla

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17 Comments on "Tesla’s New Initiatives Aim To Improve Service"

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Training new staff takes time. I would guess that goes double for auto mechanics and body shop employees, unless they’re using an apprentice program where a new hire just assists others until he’s fully trained.

Can Tesla overcome the basic problem of time being incompressible? Model 3 production is ramping up exponentially, but the time it takes to train a new employee can’t practically be reduced much. That either means Tesla is going to have to hire lots of service employees that won’t contribute for some days or (more likely) weeks after hire, because they’re being trained, or else Tesla is going to continue to have expansion of service lag behind expansion of production and deliveries. Either way, it’s not beneficial to Tesla’s income.

But that’s not to say that Tesla should slow down its expansion. Tesla absolutely needs to expand its production and sales as much as it possibly can between now and 2020, when legacy auto makers will be putting many new PEVs (Plug-in EVs) on the market.

We need to understand that Tesla’s expenses will continue to be comparatively higher than they are for a legacy auto maker, so long as Tesla is swiftly ramping up production and sales.

The challenge on their service side is the production ramp up is filling the service network with production error induced repairs and reworking. This sort of work generates no revenue to Tesla overall. It creates a drain on cash and resources just when they can least afford it. For Tesla the whole game now is mastering assembly with low defects. High production with the relatively high defects like they have now creates massive waste and creates “service Hell” for the customers and Tesla employees. I work within a OEMs network, the number of new vehicles requiring any sort of repairs prior or just after sale is very small. It has taken decades to master all of this. All phases of the process from assembly to transport to retail are full of events that can lead to damage, we have many tricks and processes that mitigate known problems.

If you have significant experience working for an OEM supplier, you already know that the challenges you listed are the same for every company, right down to ramping up production of every last part completely new clean sheet part. It is nothing new within the industry.

“production with the relatively high defects like they have now”

From everything published in the last few months, that talking point is now already out of date. It seems like your advice to Tesla is what for the most part either already done or are well into the process of doing already.

@Andrew c:

Thanks for your thoughtful response. I think you have some good points there.

On the other hand, it’s not like the “tricks and processes that mitigate known problems” are deep a dark arcane secrets known only to a few in the inner circle of some cult. Tesla keeps hiring executives with experience working for Detroit auto makers. The “tricks and processes” will be instituted at Tesla, too, given time. Unfortunately for any company growing rapidly, time is a limited resource. As they say: Nine women cannot produce a baby in one month! Some of Tesla’s production and/or service problems will take time to iron out.

They actually started their service/delivery center expansion back in the fall of 2016, with sites opening in some locations in the second half of 2018.

There is a tendency to think that nothing happens at Tesla until after it is announced on some green car website. And if it hasn’t shown up on a green car website, that it hasn’t happened. But that is not the case.

Tesla has some time to expand their servicing capacity. It doesn’t have to grow at the same rate as production of the Model 3. While there may be a few Model 3s that have to get service within the first couple of years, a majority of them during that time period won’t even have to visit a service center. As the Model 3 gets older and requires additional services especially under the extended service agreement during years 4 to 8, that will be the point in time which the bottleneck could occur. During the new vehicle limited warranty, the owners doesn’t technically need to bring the car in for service, but once they reach the extended service agreement they will need to take the car in for service once per year or every 12,500 miles.

That’s only scheduled service. Unscheduled service is quite often required during the first months. As the US is now seeing deliveries much much higher than ever before, and with a new car model generally being more problematic, service capacity needs to scale enormously — while at the same time, many resources are bound by the sheer volume of deliveries themselves…

There is no scheduled service for Model 3.

According to what someone posted in Tesla’s official forum, this info is in the Model 3 manual:

• Rotate the tires every 6,250 miles (10,000 km). Maintain the correct tire pressures
• Brake fluid. Every 2 years or 25,000 miles (40,000 km), whichever comes first.
• Battery coolant. Every 4 years or 50,000 miles (80,000 km), whichever comes first

https://forums.tesla.com/forum/forums/maintenance-plans-model-3

“While there may be a few Model 3s that have to get service within the first couple of years, a majority of them during that time period won’t even have to visit a service center.”

I would like to believe that’s true, but the forums are filled with reports from new Tesla customers who have had to take their new Model 3 in to get adjustments and fix fit-and-finish issues. I realize that problem is abating somewhat with newer cars having fewer issues. But even as the amount of problems per car diminishes, the number of cars keeps increasing. Also, Tesla service centers are given the task of prepping new cars for delivery, and that is also increasing in pace.

I can see why some Tesla service centers are having a hard time keeping up — or simply aren’t.

There is a simple, quick and scalable solution: subcontracting service to independent maintenance shops. Right to repair and all that.

There will be no lack of mechanics available as the transition from ICE to BEV ramps up. Quite the opposite in fact. 😉

Well, to be fair there is actually a lack of skilled mechanics across the entire automotive industry, identified long before the Model 3. None of the car makers are immune from that.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/27/automobiles/wheels/automobile-repair-jobs.html
https://www.denverpost.com/2017/07/10/help-wanted-auto-technicians-in-demand-skills-gap/

But yes, Tesla does certainly have an advantage in that area. Because while traditional dealerships have job openings that nobody even applies to fill, Tesla has more applicants by a full order of magnitude than they have jobs. ” “Tesla received just shy of 500,000 resumes and applications” for about 2,500 open positions at the company in 2017. It’s a sought-after place to work. In fact, “Tesla took the No. 6 spot on LinkedIn’s recent ranking of the hottest companies to work for””

https://insideevs.com/half-million-people-applied-job-tesla-2017/

Well, to be fair there is actually a lack of skilled mechanics across the entire automotive industry, identified long before the Model 3. None of the car makers are immune from that.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/27/automobiles/wheels/automobile-repair-jobs.html
https://www.denverpost.com/2017/07/10/help-wanted-auto-technicians-in-demand-skills-gap/

But yes, Tesla does certainly have an advantage in that area. Because while traditional dealerships have job openings that nobody even applies to fill, Tesla has more applicants by a full order of magnitude than they have jobs. ” “Tesla received just shy of 500,000 resumes and applications” for about 2,500 open positions at the company in 2017. It’s a sought-after place to work. In fact, “Tesla took the No. 6 spot on LinkedIn’s recent ranking of the hottest companies to work for””

https://insideevs.com/half-million-people-applied-job-tesla-2017/

Find the bottleneck, fix it and move on.

One aspect that impacts Tesla but not most other automotive companies is the requirement to go to company-owned service centers for any and every service need. Whereas if a Ford or GM or Toyota vehicle has problems, there are thousands of independent local mechanics or body shops that can fix them.

I understand Tesla’s reasoning for this, since they are transitioning from a niche company to a mass market company and any improperly done repairs could reflect poorly on them. However, it does put an extra strain on Tesla service centers compared to other vehicle dealerships or company-run service centers since every Tesla has limited choices of repair locations in comparison to other automotive brands.

“Tesla has also topped Consumer Reports’ customer satisfaction survey two years in a row, with 90% of Tesla owners saying they would buy the same car again.”

Which tells us nothing about the fit, finish and functionality issues of Teslas that require customers to need service on a new, $50k luxury car that we see posted here and elsewhere by Tesla owners. Most are buying knowing they are early adopters and that Tesla is punishing the early adopters with low quality control standards (sending cars out with misaligned doors for example).

Tesla should not have needed to boost its service and parts availability because the EV needs so much less service. What Tesla is having to provide is not really service so much as post mfg fix ups.

Hopefully by end of year, Tesla production will be such that Tesla can say it is making a profit and has met production goals and Tesla can dial up the quality control.