TESLA OWNERS GRUMBLE ABOUT LOSS OF LOANER CARS
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.