Car Dealers Are Terrified of Tesla’s Plan to Eliminate Oil Changes
Car dealers fear Tesla. In states across the country, powerful car dealer associations have lobbied to ensure the electric car maker and its direct-sales model are kept out. This movement claimed another victory this week when New Jersey banned Tesla stores in the state.
On the surface, the fear is hard to fathom. In New Jersey, for instance, sales of Tesla’s $70,000 Model S reportedly number in the hundreds. But if you dig a little deeper, it becomes obvious why dealers are worried. They don’t just fear Tesla’s cars. They fear Tesla’s plan to create a world where you never have to bring your car into the shop again.
The first and most striking way Tesla kills the dealer service department cash cow is downloads. As part of its sales pitch, Tesla says you should think of its Model S sedan as “an app on four wheels.” That may sound like vacuous Silicon Valley marketing copy, but the company isn’t just being metaphorical. Software is at the heart of what keeps Teslas running. These internet-connected cars are designed to self-diagnose their problems. The vehicles can also download software fixes or updates — even new features — much like an iPhone when Apple puts out a new version of iOS. When fixes happen over the air, there’s no need for a shop in the first place.