No More Loaner cars - article

No More Loaner cars - article

By Jim Alger

It is not hyperbolic to say that Elon Musk has changed the automotive industry and in fact the world in ways not seen since the dawning days of the industrial revolution. The vehicles are second to none. As Social Capital CEO Chamath Palihapitiya pointed out recently “The minute you sit inside that car your definition of what is expected is altered forever.” In fact, the vehicles are so good overall that most Tesla owners gleefully overlook real or perceived flaws in the vehicle or delivery experience. That’s not to say they should, but they do.

Model S and X owners had grown accustomed to a level of service that matched the car they were driving. Red carpet treatment, a lounge to wait in, coffee ad soda, free swag, friendly service representatives, and a loaner car that in many cases were an upgraded version of the car they were bringing in for service. Tesla Valet would even pick up your vehicle and drop off a loaner. This was actually a selling point of the cars touted by Elon early on. But that was then.

Enter Tesla’s almost dizzying pace of changes as those perks are slowly going away, and Tesla Owners are starting to notice.

It is no secret that with the roll out of the mass-market Model 3, Tesla service experience has suffered. With the expansion of service centers serving tens of thousands of vehicles it comes as no surprise that the “red carpet” treatment we all got used to has all but disappeared. No more are the days of 1 car pulling into the Van Nuys service center being met by 5 advisors chatting up Tesla for 45 minutes while a rep tended to your cars needs immediately. Now, the line at almost any service center resembles cattle being herded into the facility. This is a great testament to the success of Tesla, and every owner wants Tesla to succeed, but deleting the creature comforts such as loaner vehicles in exchange for Uber credits is a bridge too far for some owners.

“Uber credits? Im ok with them for me and my Model S, but how is my wife supposed to shuffle the 2 kids and car seats in and out of Ubers to 2-3 activities per day in 100 degree southern California heat?” Ammar Abukurah an owner of multiple Tesla vehicles said, “Fine, we will rent the car for $100 a day but what about the 4-5 days the car will just sit on the lot like it typically does for whatever reason. Do I have to pay $4-500 to have my car fixed under warranty?”

When asked about this policy, a Tesla representative at a service center gave several reason from room to store the loaners to loaners being damaged by Tesla owners. One representative at a different service center flatly said “BMW doesn’t provide loaners”. Well, firstly they absolutely do. A quick call to multiple dealers confirmed this. But secondly and more importantly Tesla Motors prides itself in being unlike most car dealers.

The best advertisement for Tesla, who notoriously does not advertise, is in fact a Tesla owner. Through word of mouth they become ambassadors for the company. There is a real fear that the consistent downgrading of the Tesla experience could threaten an otherwise amazing product. We are starting to hear “My car is awesome but…”, hopefully Elon is listening.

bp | August 6, 2019

Before the Model 3 introduction, Tesla's service/support levels were generally very good - competitive with dealerships supporting vehicles in the S/X price range.

When the Model 3 production increased, Tesla's initial reaction was to focus on supporting the huge number of new Model 3's, which resulted in lowering the service/support levels for the higher priced S/X owners.

If Tesla wants to remain competitive with S/X - especially with the other manufacturers bringing out their own long range EVs at similar prices, Tesla should better differentiate S/X ownership from ownership of the lower priced 3/Y.

They've just restored one benefit for S/X owners - free unlimited supercharging.

They could do more by adding more standard features - free maintenance for 4 years/50K miles, extended warranty for 8 years/100K miles, separate S/X customer support line, loaners when vehicle service takes longer than a day, Full Self Driving, …

Since they've reduced the S/X prices considerably over the past year, by increasing the standard feature bundle, they could justify a price increase to help cover the cost of the additional standard features - with most of the features that would never be standard on the lower priced models.

Of course, Tesla must also address V3 supercharging - and get that added to S/X as soon as possible, because that's one feature currently available only on the lower priced Model 3's... | August 6, 2019

@bp - The S/X being made today handle 200 kW/h on V3 Supercharging. Not quite as good as the M3 LR, but close. I suspect it is less than 3 minutes of difference in the worst of cases, and in many cases about the same (depends on SOC when arriving). Also I haven't heard if the SR/SR+ can support 250 kW/h charging rate, I suspect not, but don't know for sure.

Sounds like you'd like Tesla to raise the prince $15K or so and give lots of freebies that few other competitors offer. Those that don't want those extras are stuck paying for them. I prefer Tesla unbundled all the extras, but that's me. Nothing wrong with you wanting to pay more for your car, and you can still buy those extras (AP, extended warranty, etc.) Yes, I do miss some of those extras, but I'm willing to pay for them if needed. The lower base price does make the car more affordable to many people that would otherwise have to pass on a S or X. | August 6, 2019

On Supercharging, the best I can find is the M3 SR/SR+ is limited to around 170 kW/h charge rate, lower than the current S/X. Also SOC has to be under 10% to get the 250 kW/h charging rate on a M3 LR.