Tesla Model 3 Outline

The Tesla Model 3 Survey

Tesla’s Hell Moves From the Production Line to the Repair Shop

The Tesla Model 3 Survey

Tesla’s Hell Moves From the Production Line to the Repair Shop

We asked 5,000 owners about life with the Model 3. We found struggles with service, praise for Superchargers and a battery that performs like no other.

In Part II of the Bloomberg survey we found struggles with service, praise for Superchargers and a battery that performs like no other.

By the end of 2018, Tesla’s customer service was overwhelmed. Phone calls and emails went unreturned, repairs were delayed, and drivers involved in crashes sometimes waited months to get parts. After a year and a half of production, there were almost 150,000 Model 3 electric sedans on the road. But it became clear that Tesla’s service centers weren’t ready for the masses.

The service snafus weighed on Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk. “When I think about what my priorities are this quarter,” he said in January 2019, “it’s improving service in North America. That’s No. 1.”

It remains an unfinished mission, according to Bloomberg’s new survey of nearly 5,000 Model 3 owners. A quarter of owners still endured waits of 10 days or more for a service appointment in the third quarter of this year, and dissatisfaction with initial service visits climbed to a new high. At the same time, Tesla corrected some of its biggest service complaints: wait times for parts improved dramatically, and manufacturing refinements reduced the number of things that need fixing in the first place.

When the Model 3 first arrived, Tesla struggled to manufacture the cars fast enough. Overcoming those bottlenecks sent thousands of cars out of the factory with defects, a topic explored in the first chapter of Bloomberg’s survey on improved manufacturing quality. As a consequence, Tesla’s uniquely self-managed service network was unprepared for the volume of repairs needed. This is the story of Tesla—struggle to make the impossible work, and in doing so reveal the next weakness in an untested system. Fix and repeat.

Service Dissatisfaction on the Rise

Dissatisfaction with timeliness of service …
… and with adequacy of initial repairs

Customer service was difficult to get ahold of last year but is slowly improving.

Tesla is on pace by early next year to become the first company in the world to sell one million electric cars. To track Tesla’s progress as a mass manufacturer, Bloomberg has been asking Model 3 owners about the experience of living with the car. It started with a 164-item questionnaire that covers every aspect of having a Tesla and was followed up with additional reporting about crash repairs and new Autopilot features. So far we’ve analyzed 500,000 words of feedback.

Do you own a Model 3? Take the survey

By the end of 2018, Tesla’s customer service was overwhelmed. Phone calls and emails went unreturned, repairs were delayed, and drivers involved in crashes sometimes waited months to get parts. After a year and a half of production, there were almost 150,000 Model 3 electric sedans on the road. But it became clear that Tesla’s service centers weren’t ready for the masses.

The service snafus weighed on Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk. “When I think about what my priorities are this quarter,” he said in January 2019, “it’s improving service in North America. That’s No. 1.”

It remains an unfinished mission, according to Bloomberg’s new survey of nearly 5,000 Model 3 owners. A quarter of owners still endured waits of 10 days or more for a service appointment in the third quarter of this year, and dissatisfaction with initial service visits climbed to a new high. At the same time, Tesla corrected some of its biggest service complaints: wait times for parts improved dramatically, and manufacturing refinements reduced the number of things that need fixing in the first place.

When the Model 3 first arrived, Tesla struggled to manufacture the cars fast enough. Overcoming those bottlenecks sent thousands of cars out of the factory with defects, a topic explored in the first chapter of Bloomberg’s survey on improved manufacturing quality. As a consequence, Tesla’s uniquely self-managed service network was unprepared for the volume of repairs needed. This is the story of Tesla—struggle to make the impossible work, and in doing so reveal the next weakness in an untested system. Fix and repeat.

Service Dissatisfaction on the Rise

Unhappy with timeliness of service …
… and with adequacy of initial repairs

Customer service was difficult to get ahold of last year but is slowly improving.

Customer service is one of the biggest obstacles preventing new car companies from succeeding. Just consider the gap between any newcomer and an established automaker such as Ford Motor Co. There are roughly 5,000 Ford dealerships in the U.S., and thousands of local mechanics with experience fixing the company’s pickups and SUVs. Tesla right now has just 413 stores and service centers worldwide, and most mechanics have no experience with electric vehicles. For mainstream car buyers to consider a new kind of car built by a new kind of manufacturer, they need to know that help will be on call when needed.

The Best and Worst of Tesla Customer Service

  • Very Dissatisfied
  • Somewhat Dissatisfied
  • Neutral
  • Somewhat Satisfied
  • Very Satisfied

To ease this burden, Tesla has been deploying hundreds of “Mobile Service” vehicles that travel to where customers live or work to conduct their repairs. This year Tesla also made it possible to schedule and track service using its phone app. These features received some of the highest ratings in the survey. The bad news for Tesla: More traditional interactions by phone and email had some of the worst.

Delivery process was awful; I had multiple missed delivery dates and an issue with app not working for five days.

In a drastic cost-cutting move earlier this year, Musk said Tesla would be eliminating retail stores and moving all car purchases online. After swift backlash from customers and investors, Musk relented and most stores remained open. The survey suggests he was right to reverse course. Not only do Tesla stores have very high satisfaction ratings, but 72% of buyers said they visited a store prior to purchasing a car.

Service Varies Depending on Where You Live

  • Very Dissatisfied
  • Somewhat Dissatisfied
  • Neutral
  • Somewhat Satisfied
  • Very Satisfied

Satisfaction about Tesla stores and service centers varied by region. New customers in Europe and Asia were less satisfied than those in North America, where the Model 3 had a yearlong head start. Customers approved of Tesla’s no-haggle sales compared with traditional dealerships but said the process for delivering cars was chaotic and in need of improvement.

There were some cosmetic issues, Tesla fixed them. I’m good with it now.

In the same way Tesla upended norms in automotive design, it’s also testing a new approach to customer service. Instead of relying on a massive network of independent dealers, Tesla owns all of its own stores and service centers. Musk says that’s possible because the relative simplicity of an electric car should make most maintenance unnecessary: “The best service is no service.”

If fewer service visits per customer is the goal, then Tesla is succeeding—at least when it comes to fixing defects that initially came with the car. This trend is largely due to Tesla’s improved manufacturing quality.

What it Takes to Fix Initial Defects

Average service appointments per 100 cars

Terrible collision support, parts took weeks to arrive.

Some of Tesla’s most dissatisfied drivers are those who experienced collision damage. Dozens of owners in Bloomberg’s survey waited months for replacement parts—often without the use of their new car.

“We made a strategic error in the past about not having service parts located at our service centers,” Musk said in January. Even commonly used parts had been stored in regional distribution warehouses, leading to widespread delays. That choice, Musk conceded, “basically meant it was impossible to have a fast turnaround on service.”

Bloomberg conducted a follow-up questionnaire with 388 Model 3 owners who reported being in an accident. The responses show that Tesla has become more nimble at getting parts to where they’re needed. While some customers still reported long delays in the third quarter, the average wait for parts after a collision declined 65 percent from its peak in 2018.

Lost Time After a Crash

Sometimes the wait for a service center appointment is too long.

Redistributing spare parts is only one element of Tesla’s solution to faster service after a crash. Until recently, the body work itself was something Tesla left to third-party specialists. That’s not unusual—most traditional dealerships don’t perform body work either. But last year Tesla began expanding the scope of bodywork its own mechanics will perform. About 14 percent of survey respondents said their collision repairs were done by Tesla.

Get in Line

Average wait to get an appointment (days)

One area that still needs work: wait times to get into the service center. A third of respondents said it took 10 days or more to get an appointment.

Charging at home means never ever having to think about it.

Tesla’s rapid growth has made it a household name and helped generate a stock market value that’s bigger than that of Ford and General Motors—companies that sell more than ten times as many vehicles. The future of Tesla’s expansion is now bound to widespread adoption of electric cars.

For that to happen, mainstream car buyers must be convinced that charging a battery is at least as convenient as filling a gas tank. Most electric-car owners charge at home or at work and rarely need to visit a charger; for everyone else, Tesla is increasing the rate at which its cars are able to charge and expanding its already-vast network of 1,636 Supercharger stations.

Satisfaction With Charging Options

  • Very Dissatisfied
  • Somewhat Dissatisfied
  • Neutral
  • Somewhat Satisfied
  • Very Satisfied
 
Average score
Supercharger availability
  • 50
  • 82
  • 323
  • 894
  • 2988
4.54
Supercharger affordability
  • 12
  • 49
  • 377
  • 1196
  • 2810
4.52
Supercharger speeds
  • 13
  • 80
  • 292
  • 1387
  • 2674
4.49

No Superchargers even close to my area ... has been promised for four years now!

Charging satisfaction varied in the survey depending on where people live and where they charge their cars. Those who do most of their charging at home or work—options that are slower but supremely convenient—were much happier than those who relied on Superchargers.

A typical Supercharger stop requires less than 30 minutes of charging for every three hours of highway driving. That’s fast enough for a comfortable road trip but still inconvenient for drivers who rely on public stations for everyday charging. This group includes city-dwellers who park on the streets and have no easy access to a plug.

Satisfaction also varied by location. In Tesla’s home state of California, the density of charging locations was rated highest. People were least satisfied in Canada, where Musk has promised for years to complete a cross-country network of Superchargers. A map on Tesla’s website shows a long stretch of Canadian chargers marked as “opening soon.”

Satisfaction With Charging Options

  • Very Dissatisfied
  • Somewhat Dissatisfied
  • Neutral
  • Somewhat Satisfied
  • Very Satisfied
 
Average score
Charging convenience versus gasoline cars
  • 21
  • 108
  • 230
  • 616
  • 3585
4.67
if primarily using
if primarily using home charger
  • 9
  • 56
  • 140
  • 437
  • 3032
4.75
…work charger
  • 3
  • 21
  • 31
  • 97
  • 354
4.54
…Supercharger
  • 5
  • 18
  • 36
  • 42
  • 72
3.91
Supercharger network size
  • 70
  • 254
  • 301
  • 1664
  • 2254
4.27
Location
California
  • 4
  • 22
  • 42
  • 311
  • 516
4.47
Rest of U.S.
  • 37
  • 125
  • 178
  • 1003
  • 1385
4.31
Canada
  • 16
  • 49
  • 36
  • 144
  • 108
3.79
Rest of World
  • 13
  • 58
  • 45
  • 206
  • 245
4.08
Destination chargers (at hotels, parking garages, etc.)
  • 19
  • 70
  • 831
  • 865
  • 2006
4.26

My battery range has declined slightly over the past year.

Lithium ion batteries degrade over time, whether they power a remote control, a lawnmower, or a three-year-old smartphone that doesn’t make it through the day. Declining range can be especially concerning for any electric-car driver who relies on a full charge for a long commute.

Battery degradation varies widely by auto manufacturer. To evaluate how Tesla’s battery holds up, we asked Model 3 owners to report how many miles of remaining range their car shows after a full charge and compared that figure to government-rated range on their Model 3. We then plotted these figures against each owner’s current odometer reading. Since many Tesla owners use a battery-preservation setting that limits their battery to a lesser maximum charge, those numbers were gathered, too.

The Bloomberg survey found the Model 3’s charging capacity declined less than 1% for every 10,000 miles of driving. For comparison, a previous generation of Nissan Leaf batteries was found to degrade more than three times faster.

The chart below uses a moving median as a trendline for Bloomberg’s Model 3 dataset. For comparison, the same method was applied to a separate dataset from older Tesla Model S batteries, gathered from a Dutch-Belgium Tesla Forum. More Model 3 data will be required to establish long-term performance.

There’s very little public data on automotive battery degradation outside of the test lab. The dataset collected here is the largest of its kind and the first to evaluate Tesla’s Model 3.

Model 3 Battery Sets a New Standard

Charging capacity declines less than 1% for every 10,000 miles of driving.
  • Frequency of responses
  • Model 3 moving median
  • Tesla Model S (2014) median
Model S data source: Dutch-Belgium Tesla Forum