Tesla says it’s ‘actively working to improve service’ in body shop network, eliminating low performers

Following recent reports of exceptionally long delays for vehicle repairs, we reached out to Tesla to get an explanation and the company acknowledged some issues with delays. They are actively working on improving repair time, according to a company representative.

But in the case of a recent highly-publicized third party repair, the company points a finger at multiple problems experienced at the body shop for the delays following an investigation.

Evan Niu, a writer at The Motley Fool and brief Tesla employee, published a report about his experience of having his Tesla repaired following an accident. The article titled “Repairing My Tesla Model S Has Been an Utter Nightmare — and It’s Mostly Tesla’s Fault” explains how his car has been in the shop for now 8 months after being rear-ended.

While Tesla quite famously operates its own service centers instead of franchise shops like most automakers in the US, the company still outsources to third-party shops when it comes to body work.

The company still retains control over which body shops get to work on its vehicles through a “certified body shop” network that Tesla trains and approves, but the shops are ultimately independent from the automaker.

In Denver, where Niu lives, there’s only one approved body shop, Stuttgart Auto Body. The next closest one is in Boulder.

In his report, Niu described how the shop quickly assessed the damages and placed the order for the necessary parts to perform the repairs (pictures via Evan Niu).

The writer then described how the body shop, which got the Model S in August 2016, didn’t receive any part until mid-December and even then they didn’t have all the parts. He wrote:

“The body shop would begin the repair in early January 2017 after the holidays. There were still a few outstanding parts, including bulb rivets. I would think that something as basic as rivets would be among the easier parts to deliver, but evidently I’m wrong (and not alone). We again contacted customer service, and Tesla again assured us they had just shipped the remaining parts for overnight delivery.”

To this day, Niu doesn’t have his car. Clearly, something wrong happened here since there’s no reason for this kind of repair to take 8 months.

Tesla told Electrek that they have investigated the issue and they are making sure that the car will get fixed this week.

Based on its investigation, the company determined that the shop “did not address this vehicle in a timely manner or in accordance with Tesla standards.” They claim that the shop had a backlog and simply couldn’t perform the repairs on Niu’s cars so they didn’t order all the replacement parts at once and instead, they placed the blame on Tesla.

The company says that they have 8 separate orders for Niu’s Model S placed between August 2016 and February 2017.

We reached out to Stuttgart Auto Body about Tesla’s claims, but we couldn’t immediately get an answer. We will update if we get more information.

While Tesla didn’t deny having lead times for some of the parts for Niu’s Model S, the company estimates the bulk of the delays were caused by the third-party shop in this case, but it’s certainly not the only report of long delays for parts from Tesla.

Again, Tesla acknowledged that they have sometimes long lead times for certain parts for repairs and they say that they are actively working on improving the service as part of their mission to provide “outstanding customer experience throughout ownership”.

More precisely, we are told that Tesla plans on “eliminating low performing shop” in its network and “rapidly expand” with “high performing shops across the US”. The company didn’t comment on the possibility of Stuttgart being removed from the network.

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