For as long as we can remember, automakers and auto dealer associations unhappy with Tesla Motors and its direct sales model have tried to argue that Tesla’s own network of Tesla Stores and Tesla Service Centres simply couldn’t cope with a major service campaign or recall.
Without fully-trained, franchised dealerships willing and able to do the necessary repair work, they argued, there was no way that Tesla could possibly carry out full-blown recall campaign without massive delays, unhappy customers, and long lead times.
Now, Tesla has proven once and for all that it doesn’t need to follow the traditional franchised dealership methodology to meet its customers needs. How? An innovative recall campaign that brings Tesla’s service centre staff to the place where Tesla customers already visit regularly: supercharger stations.
The recall, announced late last week in an email to customers, has been prompted by a discovery in Europe two weeks ago of a Tesla Model S in which a front seat belt was not correctly connected to the outboard lap pretensioner. According to Tesla, a customer sitting in the front passenger seat of their Tesla Model S turned to speak with a rear-seat occupant, only to discover that the seat belt became disconnected.
“In early November, a customer sitting in the front passenger seat turned to speak with occupants in the rear and the seat belt became disconnected,” a Tesla representative told Bloomberg on Friday. “The seat belt is anchored to the outboard lap pretensioner through two anchor plates that are bolted together. The bolt that was supposed to tie the two anchors together wasn’t properly assembled.”
No injuries were sustained as a consequence of this event, nor was the car involved in any collision. Nevertheless, Tesla says that “in the event of a crash, a seat belt in this condition would not provide full protection,” and has thus decided to execute a full recall of all 90,000 Model S cars made.
As with any automaker, Tesla has followed standard recall practice, notifying both the relevant authorities of the voluntary recall as well as notifying its owners of the recall. Unlike most automakers however, who have to give their franchised dealerships anything from a few weeks to more than a month to prepare for the recall, Tesla is already booking in customers’ cars to carry out the short procedure toSet featured imagecheck the construction of each seat belt.
And here’s where it gets clever. Since the inspection itself takes no more than a few minutes, Tesla has sent its service engineers to Supercharger sites around the world to check customers’ cars as they arrive to charge their cars.
Since the cars themselves will be there longer than it takes to carry out the inspection, the resulting recall action is a stroke of management genius.
As Tesla owner and well-known YouTuber Bjørn Nyland documented on Sunday, the recall is quick and painless. Moreover, by checking customers’ cars while they are at a Supercharger station, Tesla ensures it can confirm correct operation of seat belts in customers’ cars without asking them to take out time in their busy schedules.
It’s very different to the usual recall program experienced through a dealership, where customers may have to take time off work or wait until a day off to spend a morning or afternoon at the local dealership.
When it launched in 2012, the Tesla Model S broke new ground in the automotive world. As well as being the longest-range, highest-performance electric sedan ever built, its always-on Internet connection meant Tesla could do some pretty amazing things to customers cars.
Not only could Tesla send new features and capabilities to cars via over-the-air software updates, but it could also remotely diagnose (and often fix) problems with customers’ cars, without owners ever needing to set foot in a Tesla Service Centre. Even when a problem could not be fixed remotely, the on-board diagnostics meant that Tesla was able to ensure it had the right parts in stock for when the owner dropped the car off for repair.
On several occasions, Tesla has even pushed over-the-air updates to the Model S’ on-board operating system to fix problems or faults that would necessitate most automakers to execute a full-scale recall.
Combine that with Tesla’s clever approach to its seat belt recall, and we’re wondering why the rest of the auto industry feels Tesla needs franchised dealerships. Admittedly, Tesla’s wait times have been going up of late, but for most customers that particular problem can be solved with more service centres, something Tesla is already working hard to remedy.
Have you been affected by this recall? Have you visited a Supercharger to get your Model S fixed? Or perhaps you’re someone who wishes that other automakers would follow Tesla’s lead on this particular problem. How would you like your service and recall experience to change?
Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
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