How Chris Salvo Outgrew Tesla Inc.
August 6, 2020—In Seabrook, N.H. sits a quaint 1,000 square foot auto body shop. From the outside, Electrified Garage looks unassuming at best, but inside their shop on any given day you will find six-figure Teslas towering on both of their lifts. Getting work done on a Tesla is an expensive and elusive endeavor due to the complexities of the vehicles and the lack of public repair information. But the co-founders of Electrified Garage found a way to get around Tesla’s ivory tower—they went in.
Chris Salvo, one of the co-founders of Electrified Garage and its chief operating officer, left his job as a technician for BMW in 2006. Seven years later, he chose to chase greener, more environmentally friendly pastures at Tesla. After five years at Tesla, he took his tools, his experience, and his expert knowledge of Tesla’s vehicles 3,161 miles away to New Hampshire.
First, Salvo started up EV Tuning, a parts shop that specializes in upgrading and fine-tuning Tesla’s equipment.
“Looking back, I guess EV Tuning was like Electrified Garage 1.0,” he says. They would look at design flaws in Tesla vehicles and figure out another way to do it, and more times than
not, they would succeed. One example is the malfunctioning door handle on model S vehicles.
“The door handle wouldn’t pop open and you had people who couldn’t even get into their cars,” Salvo says. “Tesla issued four different repair solutions, but none of them worked, so I fixed it.”
Electrified Garage, which opened July 2019, was started to cater to geographic areas that Tesla can’t, or won’t, reach. If you live in a rural area, it can be difficult to charge your vehicle away from home, let alone get any work done.
“Tesla can’t do it all on its own,” Salvo jokes, “so we are picking up the table scraps.”
Despite Salvo’s modesty, Electrified Garage has the capabilities to do everything Elon can and more. Mechanical maintenance and body repair come with the territory, Salvo says, and most tasks can be carried out by the shop’s lead technician and co-owner, Chad Hrencecin, without an iota of hesitation.
“We have seen everything there is to see on model X and model S Teslas,” Salvo says.
But the real reason Tesla owners take their business to Electrified Garage is for the aftermarket upgrades.
“We can reprogram control modules, replace high voltage components, and even change the configuration of an entire vehicle,” says Salvo.
The modifications made by Electrified Garage do not affect the entirety of Tesla’s warranty, but they do void the specific component that was worked on.
There may only be one or two technicians on the shop floor at a time because the other staff members are programmers. Salvo says when word started to get out about the shop and their specialization in Teslas, they were approached by a group of programmers who offered to work with them exclusively.
While most of his day is spent talking about Teslas, Salvo says he can do upgrades on almost anything. Recently, a father came into the shop with his son’s ZX650 Razor dirt bike after the batteries had completely worn out.
“His son is on the autism spectrum and this dirt bike is the kid’s only outlet,” says Salvo.
Doing what he does best, Salvo took apart the bike, tripled the horsepower, and quadrupled the battery so he can ride it for hours.
“It sure doesn’t get sluggish going up hills anymore,” Salvo chuckles.
Electrified Garage operates under the notion that there is always room for improvement and that is why they plan to open two more locations before the year is out. Their second location is set to open this September in Ocala, Florida and a third in October in North Carolina. Whether you want your kid’s Lightning McQueen Power Wheel to do wheelies or you want to convert your rear-wheel drive model 3 Tesla into an all-wheel drive model 3, Electrified Garage can do it, and chances are, they’ve done it before.
“We’re a little bit of a speed shop, a little bit of a maintenance shop, and a little bit custom fabrication,” Salvo says. “Someday I’ll get bold and go to California and play in Elon’s sandbox.”