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Broken Tesla Service Centers Are the Reason the EV Maker Avoids More Affordable Cars

Mark Reuss said that GM dealerships repaired 11,180 Tesla vehicles since 2021. It does not matter what they have fixed; the mere fact that Tesla owners preferred to ask General Motors for help is enough to understand how bustling Tesla Service Centers are. If you are wondering when Tesla will sell a cheaper EV than the Model 3, ask no further - that will only happen when Tesla fixes its Service Centers.
Broken Tesla Service Centers are the main reason for Tesla not to make an affordable EV 7 photos
Photo: Tesla/edited by autoevolution
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Before the company presented the Model 3, Tesla Service Centers were celebrated for the high level of attention and care they provided to customers. There are several stories of how well they took care of issues, which is probably the reason for Tesla vehicles to be taken for luxury cars when there is nothing premium about them. In those days, Tesla Service Centers were considered better than Lexus.

Everything changed with Tesla’s cheapest EV. The problem was not related solely to the higher volume, even if this is a major factor. It was mostly the EV maker’s lousy quality control that crippled Tesla Service Centers.

According to Troy Teslike, 43% of all Teslas had to visit a service center in the first month of ownership in 2018. That only got worse with time: 46% in 2019, 60% in 2020 and 2021, and 69% in 2022 (until July). It could be even worse: considering how crowded Tesla Service Centers are, some vehicles must have had to wait more than 30 days to fix issues they already presented at delivery.

Tesla owners have inspection guides to make sure they check for the most frequent defects in new vehicles: misaligned panels, chipped paint, dents, trim defects and damages, broken clips, and foggy taillights and headlights are just some examples from the top of my head. Apart from these things, there are other issues that only emerge after driving the vehicles for a bit of time.

Dana Brems got stuck in the middle of a freeway in California with her brand-new Tesla Model 3. After giving her a ridiculous diagnostic (the car would have run out of juice, even showing 139 miles of range), Tesla discovered that the EV would have to replace its rear drive unit because of a defective inverter. Tesla even made a recall in China involving 127,785 units of the Model 3 on April 7. However, it did do anything in the U.S.

If the company offers this level of service with its current four-model lineup, just try to imagine what will happen when it releases a cheaper EV than the Model 3. Without fixing quality control, they would pack Tesla Service Centers just with people willing to accept deliveries of defective cars. Supposing that gets solved, the simple volume increase that a more affordable vehicle represents would have the same effect, even if not immediately.

For Tesla to fix its servicing network, it will have to expand the number of Tesla Service Centers with massive investments. That should not be difficult when it allegedly gets eight times more profits per car than Toyota. As I discussed in a previous article, that is surprising if it is true. After all, Tesla pays no dividends to its shareholders and keeps constant operating expenses despite opening two factories that Elon Musk called “money furnaces.”

The company also keeps opening more Supercharging stations, and the operating costs do not get higher, which is practically a miracle. With the EV maker’s accounting strategies, opening more Tesla Service Centers will probably have no effect on operating expenses either. And they are desperately needed – not for any new affordable car, but for the EVs that Tesla already sells, as GM demonstrated.

With its two new factories, Tesla could easily develop a more affordable vehicle. One of these new plants could be dedicated to this new EV. If Tesla does not do it, that’s because of everything else it has to fix before it is able to service these cars. After all, it should have already learned the lesson the Model 3 production delivered. On second thought, the Model Y shows it didn’t. GM servicing 11,180 Tesla cars reinforces that.

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About the author: Gustavo Henrique Ruffo
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Motoring writer since 1998, Gustavo wants to write relevant stories about cars and their shift to a sustainable future.
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