Independent workshops and Tesla: It’s complicated.

09. Jul 2022 | Industry + More

If you ask independent workshops about their opinion about the electric car company Tesla, opinions are divided. For some, the US brand is a nightmare, and the others ignore it completely. Relationship status: "It's complicated". Perhaps even more than that. But things could slowly be changing.

As if independent workshops weren't already facing enough challenges due to electromobility, Tesla makes it much more difficult for independent workshops. On the one hand, there are the design-related problems associated with the maintenance of electric vehicles. On the other hand, electric car specialists try to make the work even more difficult for independent companies than conventional car manufacturers already do. The aim: To tie Tesla owners in their own world. This means: Sealing the Tesla world hermetically and completely blocking independent workshops out of maintenance and repair work as far as possible.

Hermetically sealing off the Tesla world

Unlike vehicles with petrol engines, electric vehicles - including the Tesla Model S, Model 3 and the like - do not require oil changes, spark plug replacement or fuel filter replacement and require no exhaust tests. Even the brake pads need to be replaced less frequently, because, with a BEV, a braking torque is produced during recuperation that brakes the vehicle. In many cases, the braking power of the alternator is enough to slow down the vehicle sufficiently if necessary.

What's more, the brand's vehicles do not require annual inspections and no regular replacement of operating fluids. And with updates over-the-air and remote diagnosis, a Tesla requires less frequent servicing. And if servicing is required, the electric vehicles should be taken to one of the 21 Tesla Service Centres in Germany, if one of the many mobile service technicians are unable to help. And of course this takes place via the online appointment agreement on the Tesla app.

No explosion in sales to be expected at independent workshops

One interesting fact in this context: Tesla drivers who do not use the maintenance recommended by the manufacturer need not be afraid of any adverse effects on the new vehicle or used car warranty, according to the company. The fact that, for a long time, Tesla has only shared very limited access to Tesla diagnostics or maintenance and repair data with independent vehicle workshops is only a drop in the bucket.

To put it mildly: Many reasons why independent workshops shouldn't expect an explosion in sales any time soon.

But there is at least finally a little movement in the strained relationship. In 2021, the company reacted to a complaint made by the German Motor Vehicle Industry Association (ZDK) to the European Commission. "For a fee, independent automotive workshops have been able to access maintenance information for some time, but not the diagnostic tools," reports the industry initiative Qualität ist Mehrwert (quality is added value). As of recently, even workshops not certified by Tesla can also access Tesla's diagnostic tools. The problem: With charges of up to € 125 per hour, the costs for using the diagnostic and programming software are high and simply too expensive for many companies.

Award-winning: Long wait times for service appointments at Tesla in the USA

So the relationship remains strained. A glance at the situation in the USA should be of some comfort to the independent workshops. For a while now, Tesla owners there have faced long wait times of up to one month for service appointments. The company has now apparently reacted with a measure that could be described as really confusing at best, or even completely desperate. As reports, even untrained employees are being sent to the workshops to provide quick support. Including managers, who had to swap their smart shirts for technicians' clothes. The portal has therefore made an understandable prediction: "It is highly doubtful that this will increase customer satisfaction in the long-term."