Tesla shared on Twitter today that it is taking concrete action to increase its service capability by doubling the size of its “Mobile Service Fleet” by the end of the year.
Turns out 80% of repairs can be done without visiting a service center – we’re doubling our Mobile Service Fleet globally this year pic.twitter.com/gW3dJKkYgA
— Tesla (@Tesla) August 23, 2018
Tesla’s Mobile Service Fleet, staffed by its team of Tesla Rangers, has been deployed for years to resolve service issues at the workplace or residence of customers. Performing service at the location of the customer eliminates the hassle of customers having to take their vehicles into a service center, which leaves the customer stranded at the service center. Granted, that’s useful if you’re pining for some burnt coffee or enjoy taking in the smell of stale cigarettes, but for the most part, it’s an exercise in tedium.
Tesla shared the news along with the stat that it estimates a whopping 80% of all service can be performed by its Mobile Service Fleet, since most service requests do not require the vehicle to be put up on a lift. Utilizing a deployed team of mobile experts lets Tesla handle the logistics of getting to and from the car, drastically reducing the time spent by customers when they need to get their vehicles serviced.
When one of the door handles on my Tesla Model S stopped working, Tesla sent a ranger out to my house to replace it in the comfort of my garage. On my end, it took all of a few minutes to open up the garage for the service tech and then open up the car. I thoroughly enjoyed the convenience as well as the ability to observe process. Side note: I was also able to sit in the car and browse through the service screens while the tech worked, which was fascinating.
Bringing service to customers is a revolutionary approach to the dealership-based service model that customers have begrudgingly accepted for their vehicles in most countries. It sounds like such a simple change, but I can tell you first-hand: it makes the service experience all but invisible to the customer, which is a great relief. I don’t care if they need to service the car once, twice, ten times a month — it takes very little effort or thought from me to do it. Granted, Tesla’s vehicles don’t require that much service, but you get the point.
The news comes as Tesla continues to ramp up production of its high-volume Model 3. Bloomberg’s Tesla Model 3 Tracker estimates the company has just exceeded a rate of 6,000 vehicles per week. For context, that’s three times the combined number of Model S and X it produces. High-density Tesla markets like Norway have hit the wall with service, with customer demand far exceeding Tesla’s ability to provide quick service — to the point that Tesla actually initiated an intervention to correct the problem, citing its Mobile Service Fleet as one of the key parts of the solution.
The solution is more critical today than ever as Tesla continues to race the clock in an attempt to maximize deliveries to customers in the US, especially before the $7,500 federal tax credit starts to taper off. The electric vehicle tax credit will remain in full effect until the end of 2018, at which time it will be reduced to 50% ($3,750) for the following 6 months. Finally, it will drop by half again for a remaining 6 months, the back half of 2019.
The floodgates of orders are expected to effectively re-open at the end of 2018, as Tesla is expected to start shipping the first of the Standard Range Model 3s to customers in early 2019. That will finally allow customers who have been waiting in the 400,000 person queue to order the elusive $35,000 “affordable” long-range electric vehicle.
As of this writing, Tesla is quoting me another 5–8 months until the Standard Range battery is available on the Model 3 for my second Model 3 reservation, but Tesla is also notoriously inaccurate on any sort of timing estimates, so take that with a grain of salt.
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