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Tesla's Vehicle Service Not Living Up To Promises

Tesla Motors is struggling, and failing, to keep its promises to owners.

In April of 2013 Elon Musk wrote to Tesla Motor’s owners and fans about how the Tesla service department would work for them. One of the most important aspects of the Tesla service plan was loaner cars. Elon Musk wrote, “If your car does need service, then it should be swapped with a car that is ideally better in some or many ways. To this end, Tesla is building a fleet of top of the line Model S loaners. These will not be our basic model – they will be state of the art with all the best features and options.” Some Tesla loaners were built, but way too few.

The news of this wonderful plan by Mr. Musk was widely reported by the mainstream and EV-advocacy media. For example, USA Today used the headline “Tesla buffs service with fancy electric loaner cars.” The teaser to that USA Today title was, “CEO Elon Musk says he wants his service customers to drive the best.” Owners are presently reporting that in many cases the loaners they are given are gasoline-burning cars rented from Enterprise or another local company.

Reports of non-Tesla loaners are easy to find. On the Tesla forum, owner “Optimistic”, says that a Chevy Impala was offered. His evaluation of the loaner program was “The loaner program, well it just sucks.” EmilMelgaard, a Reddit poster said just five months ago, “I got a diesel loaner car from a Tesla Service Center.”

Tesla’s broken promise on loaners is not the only way that customers have been disappointed by the service plan promises. Early on Tesla promised that its Ranger program would enable a Tesla owner to have a cost effective and time effective way to get their car serviced. Automotive News explained the program would enable an owner to call a Ranger and for a flat, $100 fee, the Ranger would either fix the problem, or take the car back to the service center. Automotive News quoted Joost de Vries, then vice president of global service at Tesla, as writing in a Tesla post, "We've revised our pricing such that Ranger Service for Model S and Roadster is now a $100 flat fee per visit, regardless of how far away you live from a Tesla Service Center. Our goal is to take care of your car in a way no one has ever done before." Tesla ended that program in 2015, and for many owners, the cost to have a Ranger come out is no longer reasonable. The new fee is a minimum of $100 and $3 per mile of distance to the nearest Service Center. Tesla has zero Service Centers in 26 states. (More on page 2)

Our recent story on the long delays that Tesla owners are now experiencing is why these broken promises are so important. With Tesla customers waiting weeks or months for service, many are finding that Tesla has not kept pace with the customer service expectations of its customers.

Related Story - Tesla Ends Unlimited Free Supercharger Program Starting in 2017