Tesla’s focus on manufacturing efficiency and solving production bottlenecks has resulted in a significant reduction in service visits, the automaker said on Wednesday.
The electric automaker’s Q4 2020 Earnings Call had a segment where company executives yielded a series of retail investor questions, one of the most interesting being Tesla’s service efforts, or lack thereof, according to the shareholder who submitted the remark.
“What is Tesla doing to improve service experience? Tesla had a reputation for outstanding customer service. Now it’s impossible to even call a service center, and appointments are scheduled weeks out,” Senior Director of Investor Relations Martin Viecha read to CEO Elon Musk, Automotive President Jerome Guillen, and CFO Zachary Kirkhorn.
Guillen’s response was simple: The best service is none at all.
“We spent a lot of efforts trying to improve the quality and the reliability of our cars. In the last two years, the frequency of service visits are reduced by one-third,” Guillen said. Evidently, the focus on manufacturing and production bottlenecks being solved has resulted in less-frequent service center visits and hasn’t required a Mobile Service fleet expansion, something many people have questioned.
Four quarterly reports ago, Tesla updated investors and owners, indicating that its Mobile Service fleet had nearly doubled in size. The fleet is responsible for fixing cosmetic issues, like scratches and minor dents, and can perform basic tasks like a 12-volt battery replacement and a tire rotation. Every car, at some point, is going to need servicing. With electric vehicles, the probability of service being needed frequently is much lower than that of a gas-powered car, simply due to the lack of parts an EV has.
Tesla hasn’t been purposefully ignoring service complaints; the focus has just been elsewhere. Take care of the product, and it will take care of the customer, in a way, and fortunately, it has worked.
However, when service visits are needed, Tesla takes pride in its efficiency to service, a quick and speedy process that gets owners in and out. Guillen says that 50% of the visits last less than two hours, and a Mobile Service technician can handle 40% of all service calls. The company is working to push that closer to 50%.
Additionally, Tesla’s plan to open one service center per week is going well. Projections from Tesla state that it could open 46 new service centers in the first half of 2020. 11 were opened in December alone, and 140 active Service Centers in North America take care of the biggest issues that Tesla owners encounter.