Tesla Raises Prices, Eliminates Maintenance Plans, Claims EVs Are Too Reliable

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
tesla raises prices eliminates maintenance plans claims evs are too reliable

Over the weekend, Tesla CEO Elon Musk asked the world to “please note” that prices on all Tesla inventory would rise by about 3 percent on April 1st. While it sounds like the setup to a particularly bland April Fool’s prank, Musk followed up by saying, “To be clear, this doesn’t affect Tesla website order prices. Existing inventory prices are currently slightly lower than on website. This will bring them in line,” which is only slightly funny.

The automaker is also scrapping its extended service plans, intended to provide annual maintenance on its vehicles. Considering how often Tesla adjusts pricing, this is the bigger story. But let’s give the money matters a little attention before making our deep dive into the company’s bold reliability claims (which is Tesla’s stated reason for the yearly maintenance program’s kiboshing).

The pricing increase officially begins at midnight on April 2nd, meaning individuals willing to settle on a pre-fab Tesla can save themselves 3 percent if they act quickly. However, those waiting to customize their vehicles online already found themselves subject to a (variable) 3-percent MSRP hike earlier this month. Basically, this brings Tesla’s unsold inventory up to par with new-model pricing in the coming quarter.

Moving on to the maintenance program, Tesla doesn’t think it needs to bother. It says electric vehicles don’t require annual maintenance and regular fluid changes, so customers can fall back on as-needed servicing without fear. Previously, the company recommended servicing the Model S and X once per year, or every 12,500 miles. Meanwhile, the Model 3 was said to be good for a checkup every two years or 25,000 miles. That’s changed.

While it may be true that an EVs wellbeing does not hinge on spark plugs or oil and transmission fluid exchange, Tesla did acknowledge that its customers will still need to stay on top of servicing duties related to brake pads, brake fluid, calipers, filters, and air conditioning — even though those items were previously included as part of its extended service plan.

That sounds fine, but Tesla’s reliability has been called into question by both annoyed customers and independent studies. Fortunately for Tesla and its fan base, very few of these issues have anything to do with the powertrain (which has been the case with EVs in general). Most of the guff Tesla garnered from Consumer Reports of late revolves around manufacturing defects resulting in lackluster fit and finish. While those complaints have been enough for the outlet to redact its earlier recommendation on the Model S and 3, both vehicles still rank highly among electric cars and hybrids.

We also know that a glut of minor problems have helped overwhelm the company’s service centers. Wait times are frequently longer than they need to be, with tons of anecdotal evidence of cars coming back in no better shape than when they left the owner’s garage. With Tesla planning to eliminate storefronts and minimize the need for parts distribution centers, it makes sense that it would want to suspend its vehicles’ premium maintenance schedule. But what about all the people who already bought in?

Tesla says customers who purchased extended 3- and 4-year service plans can request a refund of the remaining length of the plan. However, it still recommends they come in for tire rotation and balancing every 12,000 miles, regular winter maintenance (every 12,500 miles in cold climates), and a fluid/filter checkup every 2 years.

We’re curious to see how this plays with the public. On one hand, Tesla can humblebrag that its powertrains are more reliable than internal-combustion engines and require a less rigorous maintenance schedule. Fewer people bringing their cars in should also help make repairs and servicing run a little smoother. Musk said that improving service in North America was among the company’s biggest concerns earlier this year. However, this could seriously backfire if Tesla turns out not to be 100-percent accurate in its reliability claims.

[Images: Tesla]

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  • 0Gravity 0Gravity on Mar 26, 2019

    Inflation is roughly 2% per year in the US so a 3% increase is barely a price rise in real dollars

  • Sirwired Sirwired on Mar 26, 2019

    "We're just making too much darn money off this product! We should stop selling it!" - No CFO Ever Seriously, an ICE hardly requires piles of TLC for quite a long time. An oil change twice a year (if that), a new engine air filter every couple years, and transmission fluid every 3-5 years is not exactly a major investment in money or time. Even at dealer rates, it's not terribly much. (And as a DIY, it's a rounding error.) With modern spark plugs, that's generally the first time anything resembling actual work is usually required, and that's not until 100-something k these days. (And that's only a bit deal on a transverse V6; it's a 10-minute job on an I4.)

    • Jatz Jatz on Mar 26, 2019

      This. We buy new ICE cars for the blissful ignorance they permit.

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  • Sayahh Toyota Century
  • Probert Really needed more front and rear overhang.
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  • Jeffro I can’t recall a visit to a Honda or Toyota dealership that wasn’t revolting to some degree. Why run yourself ragged going through the sleazy and greedy system store gauntlet, when you can purchase your luxury vehicle with just a few clicks on your smartphone?
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