It’s no secret that Tesla is experiencing challenges meeting the service needs of its customers, with some owners noting that appointments with the company’s service team are now available weeks or even months out. This has caused an issue of sorts for Tesla. Its vehicles may indeed provide the best ownership experience in the market — as long as they don’t require service. Once they do, then a substantial amount of patience is advised on the owners’ part.
The issue of Tesla’s service network and its present shortcomings was discussed by CFO Zachary Kirkhorn during the Q3 2021 earnings call. According to the executive, there are a couple of factors that contributed to the current service situation, from the pandemic and the world’s recovery from it, as well as the ongoing supply chain challenges. Kirkhorn noted, however, that some of Tesla’s service issues are not necessarily exclusive to the company.
“There’s a couple of things that have contributed to that based upon the information that we have. The first is that — and I think this is kind of not — this is not unique to us, is that the return to some sense of normalcy in a post-pandemic world has happened, I think, more quickly than most people expected. And what we’re seeing here is that the number of miles that people are driving has increased. There may have been some demand for service during 2020 or in the early parts of 2021 that customers put off, and so there’s a bit of a catch-up that’s occurring.
“That has increased demand for service. At the same time, in the macro-environment here, logistics, moving parts, sourcing parts has become increasingly more difficult, which is a well-known issue in the world right now, as well as challenges in the labor market. And so this kind of the simultaneous increase in demand for service with the ability to supply that service has been impacted for the reasons I mentioned. And so we saw an uptick primarily in Europe and North America in service wait times over the course of the summer,” Kirkhorn noted.
The Tesla CFO added that the company is doing what it can to grow its service network, from its physical centers to its mobile service fleet. Kirkhorn noted that over the last year, and despite the presence of the pandemic, Tesla’s physical service centers grew by 35%, and the mobile service fleet saw an even more impressive growth of 40%. But amidst these efforts, the CFO reiterated that Tesla’s primary goal is still to create vehicles that are extremely reliable, since the best service is no service.
“And we’ve been working extremely hard since then to address this, and we’ve seen our wait times come down. So this is not the case in every location, but if you think about it from regional average perspective, we are seeing improvements there. We remain super-focused on adding locations. And so over the last year, we’ve grown our physical footprint of service centers by 35%.
“We’ve grown our footprint of mobile repair by over 40%. We’re also adding staffing as quickly as we can in the areas that are most impacted by the imbalance of supply and demand for service. But I think the most important part about all of this is — and we’ve said this on calls before, where the best service is no service. And so we have been incredibly focused as a company both on the initial quality of our vehicles and reliability of our vehicles,” Kirkhorn said.