Repairers Address Tesla Collision Announcement
March 2, 2021—Tesla recently sent a message to its drivers announcing that its service centers will now offer a variety of light collision repair services for the brand’s all-electric vehicles—good news for drivers, but bad news for repairers.
Drivers have struggled in the past to find collision repair facilities with the complex know-how to repair damaged Tesla vehicles and now there are more options for drivers. But where does that leave the few but mighty independent repair shops that have invested the time and money needed to be able to repair these advanced electric vehicles?
ADAPT spoke with Tesla-certified independent collision repair shops to see where their fears lie—if they have any.
After teasing collision repair since 2018, Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, fulfilled his promise at the beginning of this year. On Jan. 28, Tesla drivers received a message from the company titled “Collision Repair is Here.”
According to the message received by drivers, each of the existing 146 Tesla Service Centers can now fix minor dents, scratches, and scuffs, and perform light body repairs for suspension and axle damage, front and rear bumpers, hoods, and more.
Jerome Guillen, president of automotive for Tesla, also announced the automaker’s plan to add 46 new service centers before the middle of the year, reports CNBC.
President of MSO European Collision Repair, Andrew Suggs, said three of his four locations are certified to complete collision repair on Tesla vehicles, a certification that he has invested more than $3.5 million to maintain.
The initial equipment investment cost $500,000, then he sent eight of his technicians to California for hands-on factory training, which they are required to repeat every 18 months to retain certification.
Suggs said there are currently three Tesla Service Centers in his area, but he isn’t worried, because they send him referrals “all day, everyday.” He said his Sandy Springs, Ga., location will have some 70 Teslas sitting in the lot at times.
When it comes to the actual repair, he said nine times out of 10, the service center “can’t line up the door anyways, and come to me.”
Robert Molina owns Collision Care Xpress in Pompano Beach, Fla., and like Suggs, he isn’t worried about his car count, in fact, he thinks it may increase. Molina first invested in Tesla certifications in 2016 when he said he saw the writing on the wall.
Molina attended Tesla’s factory training himself and has spent around $700,000 achieving and maintaining his certification.
“We have such a great relationship with our service center now,” Molina said, “I just see them capturing more work for us.”
But Molina said he is still worried for Tesla drivers. Collision Care Xpress often finds itself repairing Tesla vehicles after non-certified shops tried and failed, said Molina.
“I would rather the cars go to [Tesla Service Centers] than where they are going now,” he said.
What’s Next For Tesla?
Molina said he doesn’t think Tesla will enter the structural repair space because of the high cost, “but I could be wrong,” he said.
Suggs said he expects Tesla to continue to increase its offerings.
“I imagine they’re trying to make a one-stop shop,” he says, “selling the car, insuring it, and repairing it all under one roof.”
Suggs guesses that Tesla’s end goal is to speed up the repair process, but in order to that, he says the automaker will soon come to face similar problems as body shops do with insurance companies, unless the company is willing to bring insurance coverage for its vehicles in-house, which is a big undertaking.
But one of his biggest fears is an oversaturation of the market, he said.
“There is such a thing as too much choice,” said Suggs. “If there’s too much competition all fighting for the same work, then all we’re doing is driving down the cost.”