Tesla Releases New Standards for Body Shops, Wants More Cost-Effective Repairs

Long waits at the body shop may soon be a thing of the past.

via Getty Images

Despite the quality control controversies that continually surround Tesla, the automaker is still working to expand its approved list of body shop providers. Tesla's goal remains for its providers to offer an affordable service with a reasonable turnaround. With Tesla entering the market with the more affordable Model 3, this is something that Tesla has recognized it must address with its newest set of guidelines and tooling requirements.

If you've needed to bring your Tesla to a body shop since launch, you might find it to be a slow process. This is due (in part) to Tesla's control over which body shops are approved by via its certification process. The shop must be possess specific equipment in order to perform warrantied repairs on the vehicles, something that does not come cheap to the independent businesses. Even the tooling requirements for repairs are very specific, down to the model of welder that can be used. Because of the long, expensive process, finding a certified shop nearby may require some traveling (my two closest shops are between 90 and 100 miles away). Once you arrive, your wait time may be vary, depending on the shop's backlog of cars and how quickly Tesla can provide the required parts for your repair. Of course, depending on the severity of the body work requiring completion, the process time can vary. A time-lapse of a Tesla repair from a body shop is shown below.

Earlier this year, president of Tesla's Sales and Service Jon McNeill took to the forums to address delays on parts after a user complained on waiting for over seven months for his Tesla to be repaired by a local shop. He wrote that "Tesla owners will get the service they expect from [Tesla] – period". This type of model cannot be sustainable for customers, and could obviously damage the manufacturer's reputation, given the requirement for specific body shops to service vehicles.

Fortunately, Tesla is working on a solution. In the above post, McNeill revealed a decision to add over 300 new body shops in the near future, as well as deploy specific Tesla-owned body shops, which it has historically never offered. This plan is finally coming to fruition as Tesla rolls out its new training material and requirements to potential body shops, reports Electrek.

Provide body shops with the training, procedures, parts, and tools to return the car to its originally-engineered state of safety, performance, and aesthetics, in an easy and economical manner.

-Tesla Body Repair Program Operating Standards Mission Statement

Though it is reportedly relatively affordable to become certified as a Tesla-authorized body shop, it's not exactly cheap. The tooling requirements alone can start at $30,000 and soar northwards of $70,000; however, more options are available than before, allowing for less expensive options to become available for shops to enter into the program. In exchange for the tooling costs, the shops would be entitled to a 30 percent discount on the retail costs of parts.

Additionally, Tesla has started to move its training online so that per-body costs were cheaper and easier to accommodate than its previous in-person program. If that wasn't enough, Tesla has emplyed methods which would "shorten the time the customer is without their Tesla" in its new Body Repair Program Operating Standards. This would require shops to have an average nine-day keys-to-keys cycle, as well as a backlog of no more than one week.

With these new standards in place, Tesla hopes to attract more quality certified body shops that owners could have their disposal. The expanded options for equipment may open the door to shops that already possess a number of required tools—or potentially allow for a more affordable entry into the program. Regardless, this leads to a broader selection and, hopefully, quicker turnaround for consumers.