Tesla Gallery & Service Center Growth — Small & Big-Picture Views

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The Tesla Owners Club of New York State (TOCNYS) landed a victory during the late hours of October 14th. A Special Use Permit (SUP) was granted at the Tesla Henrietta location, providing ability to become a gallery. This will allow Tesla to show potential customers its products at the location for both test drives and educational purposes.

TOCNYS heard about the tabling of the meeting and knew that it had to do its part to make sure Tesla got the approval it needed. Rick Cognata, Pete Camacho, John Weiksnar, Harry Burch, and Patric Ho, all of whom are regional organizers, reached out to the town board to share their support in favor of approval. The group also provided much-needed insight into the service that the Tesla gallery will provide for their respective regions. Along with the regional organizers, club members in Henrietta and from all over Monroe County reached out to the town board to express favor in approval.

Rick Cognata and Patrick Ho attended the town board meeting and had a strong presence at the podium. Along with them, in solidarity via Zoom, was Harry Burch. The local club leadership showed up along with club members from all around the state through both Zoom and YouTube. Jim Salviski, Founder of SPOT cowork in Henrietta, who is also a club member, spoke about how owning a Tesla had inspired him to install multiple charging stations at his businesses for the public to use. This action has also inspired the town to install more EV charging stations.

There are some stipulations, though. No sales activity will be allowed to take place on the premises or in vehicles driven for educational purposes or in any manner by personnel working there. This video of the Town Board Meeting for Henrietta, NY, noted that the original application was for a sales and service center. The town board felt, though, that because the licensure for vehicle falls in the realm of the Department of Motor Vehicles rather than property zoning, they couldn’t grant Tesla  “special permits for illegal activities since they were unwilling or unable to produce a dealership license for this property.” They said: “We made it clear that we would not be approving a special use permit for a sales showroom.” Due to this, Tesla amended its application to no longer ask for a sales showroom, but instead ask for an educational showroom.

The Growth of Tesla’s Service Centers

Back in 2012, The St. Lois Post-Dispatch ran an article about Tesla’s then-new service center on Olive Boulevard that was planned to be opened by the end of 2012. University City, the article noted, was one of around 20 service centers that Tesla planned to open at the time. Twenty. That number is tiny compared with the number of service centers in the US and around the world today. The article noted that, back then, the nearest service center for Tesla customers was 300 miles away in Chicago.

During Tesla’s Q2 2019 earnings call, one of the questions asked was for an update on what Tesla has done to ensure that all owners are receiving an industry-leading customer experience. While pointing out that the best service is no service — meaning, your car’s performance is so good that it doesn’t need service — Elon also pointed out that Tesla was “opening service centers as fast as we can.” He noted that they planned to increase the rate of service center openings “dramatically into the course of this year,” along with mobile services as well.

“You’ve got to have service, you have to have the supercharging and charging all sorted out, consumer financing, and then the price must make sense. And any place where those four things are true, our sales are great. So we’re rolling out service centers like crazy. Service centers are the key to sales, not the retail location.” Elon said during the Q2 2019 call.

More recently — as in, back in July of this year — a LinkedIn post from Tesla President of Automotive Jerome Guillen indicated that Tesla was looking for spaces in several cities in the US as well as one in Puerto Rico. His post showed that several states such as California, Georgia, Arizona, Florida, and Puerto Rico were all candidates for new service center locations. This should help with Tesla’s ongoing increases in production and deliveries, especially as new products such as the Cybertruck, Semi, and new Roadster come to market.

There are now 140 Tesla stores and galleries across the United States. There are also 12 in Canada. And there are stores and galleries in 30+ other countries. Additionally, there are a similar number and spread of service centers. Here’s a look at Tesla stores and service centers (two separate maps) in a portion of the United States just for a glance at the current network:

Thoughts on Local Leadership

If it wasn’t for Tesla Owners Club of New York State (TOCNYS), this latest victory for Tesla probably wouldn’t have happened. This is why it’s vital for Tesla owners, and EV owners more broadly, to speak up and focus on making purchasing EVs easy and accessible. Tesla owners in the Tesla Owners Clubs all across the world help to do this. They are pushing Tesla’s mission, but that is often because they are simply trying to help create a better world. We have to take the future into our hands.

It’s hard — I get it. Plastic trash bags are cheaper than the biodegradable ones and Dollar Tree doesn’t sell those. But, if we all — companies and individuals — do our part by opting for choices that result in sustainability instead of adding to our collective carbon footprint, we will make an impact. This is what the Tesla Owners Clubs are doing.

I also find it odd that Tesla selling vehicles it produces is considered “illegal activity” by many states. We really have messed up priorities. As a reminder, or for anyone who hasn’t been following this topic, this is really due to auto dealerships lobbying state politicians. Tesla has a sales model wherein it sells directly to customers — completely cutting out the middle man. Or, in this case, the dealer. Dealers don’t like that, but Tesla is more in favor of efficiency and cost savings rather than wastefulness.

Tesla raises $2b in capital

Even though the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends that states allow direct manufacturer sales, dealership associations have been waging a long war against Tesla and other EV makers in hopes of getting them banned from selling directly to customers. The claim is often that dealership franchises offer better value for their customers than direct sales. How does it make sense that adding a business in between the manufacturer and the consumer reduces costs?

Important to note is that dealerships earn more money from service than from sales, and since a Tesla doesn’t have to be serviced as often as a gasoline-powered vehicle, that’s a big problem for them. Plus, it threatens their existence in general.

In all 50 US states, you can order a Tesla online. In some states, though, you may have to go out of state to pick up your vehicle. In Texas, at the moment, you can currently receive a Tesla at a service center that you ordered online, but Tesla vehicles made at the Austin factory will have to be shipped out of state before being sold to customers in Texas under current law. This is due to Texas being one of those states that has a law that prohibits auto manufacturers from selling new vehicles to buyers without using the services of a franchised dealership. In my opinion, this is insane. Imagine buying an iPhone online and being told that the Apple store has to mail it out of state and then mail it to you before you get it.

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Johnna Crider

Johnna owns less than one share of $TSLA currently and supports Tesla's mission. She also gardens, collects interesting minerals and can be found on TikTok

Johnna Crider has 1996 posts and counting. See all posts by Johnna Crider