Servicing a Tesla costs how much?

  28 July 2014

One of the points that all electric cars are sold on is low running costs. Part of that are very low fuel costs, but it’s also low servicing costs. Whenever a manufacturer launches a new electric car, Tesla included, that brand bangs on about how electric motors don’t need any servicing and regenerative braking means the discs and pads rarely need changing and so on.

 This week I met with Tesla’s UK boss Georg Ell at the opening of the make’s new showroom and service centre just a stone’s throw from Heathrow. And by the way, this one is an actual showroom, rather than a display case in a shopping centre.

 Among other things, Mr Ell revealed the cost of an annual service. Which costs £550. Yes, that much. (Although there’s a service plan covering four years for £1,800.

 Now I realise that we’re talking about premium brand positioning here, but this still seems very steep. When asked what’s included, Mr Ell mentioned courtesy cars or a collect and deliver option, but wasn’t able to shed any light on what else made the servicing so pricey, particularly given that any franchised retailer would offer the same collect and deliver option if a customer asked. I know because I always go for this option with my Mazda.

Interestingly, this £550 is a flat rate for all Tesla service points across the UK, so there seems to be no variation in labour, or overhead, rates based on geography.

 To compound this oddity, when I spoke to Mr Ell earlier this year, he said that aftersales would not be a profit centre, stating that absorption rates would in fact be zero.

 At £550, to me it seems that either the absorption rates are (or will be by the time there’s some cars on the road) somewhat higher than Tesla claims, or the company’s getting something wrong in its maths. However, only time and customer demand will tell.

Tristan Young

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