There are concerns over Tesla’s ability to scale its service operations with the upcoming anticipated growth of its global fleet after the introduction of the Model 3 later this year. Tesla operates all its service centers on its own without third-party franchises and while there have been wait time problems in certain regions, the company managed to scale its operations.
With Tesla expected to go from an annual production rate of 100,000 units to 500,000 within the next ~18 months, it will be significantly more difficult to scale service, but long-time Tesla executive Jochen Rudat tried to reassure Tesla owners in a new interview today and hinted at Tesla’s autonomous driving tech helping with the issue.
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Rudat, a former BMW sales manager, has been with Tesla since 2009 to first lead sales in Switzerland, where Tesla dominates the EV and luxury sedan market, has seen his responsibilities gradually increase as Tesla added more markets to his charge leading to his new role as Director of Central Europe. You might remember him from the video of BMW’s CEO bonking his head rushing to get out of Tesla’s Model X after calling it “only a prototype”.
He gave an interview to Manager Magazin this week (in German) and when asked about how the company plans to scale service with the upcoming Model 3, he answered:
“Our [service] infrastructure is growing with the needs of our customers. We will double the Tesla sales and service centers to 26 [in Germany] by the end of this year. We will also more than double the number of our employees. In addition, our vehicles need much less service than the competition. Software updates replace the workshop visits in many cases. And think about what will be possible when Tesla models will soon be completely autonomous. They will deliver themselves to service centers.”
Update: Tesla says that Rudat said jokingly and it’s not a product announcement – but we feel confident that it is based in some truth.
If Tesla stays true to its timeline for full autonomy, the first version of its level 5 autonomous software should be ready late this year at which point the company plans to complete a coast-to-coast demonstration in the US. Depending on validation and regulatory approval, the new technology will be available gradually through over-the-air software updates in markets that allow it.
In those markets, it sounds like Tesla plans to have its vehicles drive themselves to Tesla’s service centers for appointments, which would be a neat feature.
You could drive to work and your car could drive itself to the service appointment without having to work around your own schedule:
Since the necessary hardware is installed on all vehicles, Tesla could offer the service even to owners who decided not to buy the self-driving option.
Speaking of driving your Tesla to work, Rudat also commented on Tesla’s vehicles being used in company fleets.
Manager Magazin noted that the Model S and X are currently not very popular company vehicles and Rudat responded:
“The Model S is in the upper luxury class. Companies order such cars for their company fleet only in the single-digit range, but Model 3 will change that. After discussions with many German entrepreneurs, I am very confident that we will be in the 3-digit range for larger companies.”
The exec added that some companies are even looking into converting their entire fleet to Model 3 vehicles once available.