Existing dealerships to be used for service

Cosmacelf

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So says Motor Authority in a recent article. Unlike Tesla, looks like Rivian will forgo building their own service centers and instead partner with dealership groups to service Rivian vehicles. Dealers will not sell the cars though, Rivian will do that, and in a very similar way to Tesla with small mall stores and direct sales over the Internet.

It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. No doubt one of Tesla’s challenges, still today, is building out their service network. But Tesla almost needs a captive in house service operation since they push out their products not completely baked and rely on direct feedback from the service centers to detect and fix early manufacturing issues. It isn’t much of a stretch to say that Tesla service centers are an extension of the manufacturing line. In addition, their cars iterate rapidly. In a single year, the “same” Model S might be manufactured in a couple of dozen slightly different ways with slightly different parts here and there.

I doubt Rivian will use this approach. I think Rivian will build their cars like a traditional automaker, with identical parts and processes for an entire model year. This will allow them to use traditional service centers, and save themselves manufacturing costs, but at the expense of rapid manufacturing innovation.
 

lookmtb

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This is interesting indeed. I was always under the impression that dealerships made most of their money off of service (one of many reasons I avoid them like the plague) so this might be advantageous to both parties!

This is something I've had a hard time understanding. Tesla has boots on the ground so to speak seeing the problems their cars have every day. they file paperwork that documents the issues and corporate headquarters tabulates and does what they do with that information. So why can't a third party be just as effective in documenting these issues and communicating them? Of course this would take training and rigid standards but I don't see why that's so different from what tesla needs to do. I totally believe tesla has taken the right direction on making service in house but for other reasons.
 

Cosmacelf

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Well, here are my thoughts. Remember that Tesla does things crazy fast. They cut corners. IIRC, it takes Tesla about 2 less years to bring a car to market than a regular automaker. If you are moving that fast, something has to give, and service is at the tail end of the chain.

When a traditional automaker brings out a new car, they spend a huge amount of time developing a training regimen for dealership mechanics, and then training them. I get the impression that a Tesla service center is doing good if they get a repair manual before the first warranty repair shows up. This wouldn't work with third party dealerships.

Also, cost enters into the equation. A dealership charges the manufacturer a pretty penny for warranty repairs. They rarely charge hours worked but instead negotiated rates. Since early Tesla cars need a fair bit of diagnosis, it would cost Tesla a lot if a third party were to do it. Tesla has gotten better but in the early days of the Model S, battery packs and drivetrains were frequently replaced.

I think Rivian will do the “normal” way with not cutting corners developing their vehicles. But time will tell if a startup can work with a dealership's mechanics and not lose too much money on warranty repairs.
 

Rob Stark

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It would be more prestigious to have Mercedes,Audi, and BMW dealers service Rivian but it would be more cost effective and timely to have Pep Boys,Firestone and/or Jiffy Lube do the service. They do so already for many corporate fleets.

Also, third party warranty repair facilities have an incentive to pad the to do list.

Back when I had my ICEv the dealer always wanted to do at least twice the stuff as my trusty local mechanic. The worst was at 100k miles when they wanted to replace my engine timing chain for $2700 that was a lifetime/500k mile part.
 

lookmtb

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@Cosmacelf I definitely get what you're saying, but I really have a hard time believing that an un-trained service technician would dive into an un-documented car under any scenario. I could totally be wrong, but if a technician at tesla didn't have documentation on how to fix the model 3 I don't think they'd want technicians guessing at the root cause or solution. Of course there are exemptions such as suspension and brakes that are pretty straight forward (are you thinking in house would try this work but outsourced wouldn't maybe?), but battery and drivetrain issues need documentation immediately no matter who is doing the work. In house definitely provides tesla more leeway in this case for sure though!

@Rob Stark That's why I don't like dealerships :poop:
 

theredviper

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I'd love to see the details of that plan. Seems a bit simple on paper but incredibly complex in reality. The dealership model is a complete mess IMO. Tesla's ability to control the end to end of their customer's experience is a huge advantage. I agree about the service centers being the tail of the production line.

Before my Model 3 I spent 10 years with a Toyota dealer (a few actually) getting maintenance, service, etc. I went to a good Toyota dealer, but there's no comparison. Bear in mind that Tesla can only get better from here on out.

Worth remembering that all technicians are 3rd party in the traditional dealer model. You might easily get better service and workmanship at a Mr. Lube location compared to a Lexus dealer.
 
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