Elon Musk Wants F1-Like Tesla Service Again, It's Still a Horrible Idea

Tesla’s Elon Musk remains a highly controversial public figure. No other car company CEO is behaving like him. And the saga continues! Instead of addressing important issues that customers often reported in the past two years, he goes on to divert the attention of those that don’t have the time to keep track of what promises were over half a decade ago. Importing Formula 1 (F1) approaches for an all-electric carmaker is an old promise, one that still doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.
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Elon Musk said he is “excited to work with Tesla Service to enable same-hour service as often as possible.” The executive is convinced the F1 pit crew approach is what’s needed. Unfortunately, the internet never forgets.

Back in 2015, over seven years ago, the CEO said the same thing when he welcomed Kenny Handkammer aboard Tesla. He promised customers that an improved service experience will quickly follow. Handkammer is now working at Lucid Motors. That tells us everything we need to know about the initiative. It failed from the very beginning.

But for some reason, Elon Musk thinks he can now do it by himself. The executive said he wants to work with Tesla Service to add F1 techniques that would “revolutionize servicing mainstream cars.” That doesn’t make any sense.

Firstly, Elon Musk has no proper Formula 1 experience whatsoever. He might be a shy fan of motorsport, but the CEO never got to witness or participate in the development and testing of an F1 car. Nor was he in any way involved in picking the right people to form a team that would guarantee to win all the possible Grands Prix. The brilliant entrepreneur even joked about F1, saying that all the racing cars should go electric. Mind you, Formula E exists!

Just think about it for a second

Furthermore, besides saying that F1 should go all-electric, Musk never really made any appearances at racing events. If he wanted to have any kind of useful, first-hand contact, he should’ve found a team that would let him participate in the training of pit crews. The closest he got to motorsport was probably when he owned an uninsured McLaren F1.

Secondly, Formula 1 teams intensely train their pit crews. These are usually made up of more than 20 people where each and everyone has a very specific role and plays an incredibly important part. If someone screws up, important points can be lost. That could decide the winner of a race!

That’s why they constantly practice and get to know each other. Moreover, they are paid very well for their jobs. A crew chief can earn up $1,000,000 or more per year. Can Tesla afford to pay this kind of money to its retrained or just hired staff? If profitability is still in play, then the company will most likely avoid this topic entirely.

But let’s assume that Tesla has the money to test the F1-like service experience. Who could come into work daily, ready to be on high alert for eight or more hours? No human can endure such a schedule. The pit crews have to remain so intense only thrice a week – during practice, qualifications, and race.

On top of that, F1 pit crews have passion flowing through their blood. Money is important, yes, but the adrenaline and joy of being right in the middle of the action and knowing you’re actively participating in something great are aspects that a Tesla Service won’t ever replicate.

Oh, come on!

But what’s grinding my gears right now is the fact that Elon Musk comes back with a very old promise. It has been seven years since he said that customers will enjoy a fast and reliable service experience. That’s not suitable for such a huge car brand. Tesla is known everywhere, and it will forever remain embedded in history as the catalyst for switching to EVs. You can’t do that to buyers of your product and expect them to just go ahead with it. It’s not right.

What Tesla should’ve addressed first and foremost is quality control at the factories. That is the first step needed to make sure the cars are being delivered to their owners without any issues. A recent survey shows that in 2018 only 43% of Model 3 buyers reported needing servicing in the first 30 days of ownership. This percentage climbed up to 69% in 2022. In just four (admittedly tumultuous) years, the quality of Tesla’s most anticipated EV dropped unexpectedly. And issues continue to pop up everywhere. It doesn’t matter if the cars are made in the U.S., Germany or China. They’re still the same!

Only after quality control is fixed Tesla and Elon Musk should start thinking about making their customers happier with short service visits, clear communication, and transparency. Another useful thing for those among us that are skilled would be for the company to offer the right spare parts in an easily accessible marketplace.

Finally, thinking about importing or applying F1 techniques for Tesla’s Service Centers is just plain nonsense. Not only would it have made more sense to approach Formula E, but it should’ve been the utmost priority.

Knowing how fast you can fuel a racing car that uses an internal combustion engine and not electric motors is not going to be of much help to technicians. And having four people changing tires while two others are using the jacks to barely lift the car off the ground won’t do any good. A real vehicle that’s being used every single day on public roads needs multiple checks that are done carefully.

This smells like a marketing ploy from miles away. It doesn’t hold any promise whatsoever. Customers will still have to deal with subpar service experiences, and they must get used to having to haggle, insist, try to get the CEO’s attention on social media, or wait for longer periods when something’s wrong with their EVs.

At the end of the day, the best service is no service. Maybe Elon Musk should rethink his approach. But knowing him… He won’t.

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About the author: Florin Amariei
Florin Amariei profile photo

Car shows on TV and his father's Fiat Tempra may have been Florin's early influences, but nowadays he favors different things, like the power of an F-150 Raptor. He'll never be able to ignore the shape of a Ferrari though, especially a yellow one.
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