Model 3 Reservation Holder Survey Underlines Tesla’s Mass Market Challenge

 

They waited for reservations… will they also wait for service? (image courtesy Investors Business Daily)

Much of the critical coverage of Tesla Motors, both here at Daily Kanban and elsewhere, has focused on issues that Tesla is able to get away with as a small-volume manufacturer serving an affluent, early-adopter market segment. From manufacturing bottlenecks to quality control problems, from inconsistent, hype-happy communication to poor service, Tesla has been able to weather a storm of problems because its customers and fans are so patient with and passionate about the company. But as Tesla moves from expensive, low-volume cars to the mass market Model 3 these problems are taking on a new significance. In part this is because higher volumes increase the likelihood of quality and service problems, and in part it is because mass market customers who depend on a single car for their daily routine are more demanding than luxury car buyers who can always take the Lexus to work if their Tesla is broken.

Given Tesla’s pattern of releasing cars with insufficient testing as well as its chronic quality problems, it’s safe to assume that the Model 3 will face its fair share of issues. Thus, investing in service infrastructure that will allow Tesla to promptly and affordably repair and upgrade high volumes of Model 3 is extremely important. As Bertel has written about at Forbes, Tesla is behind the curve on those investments and it will cost billions to catch them up. Just yesterday a piece by former Tesla employee Evan Niu dramatically illustrated just how far Tesla has to go to improve its service time, which has dragged on for 8 long months in Niu’s case. Now an exclusive study of about 800 Tesla Model 3 reservation holders, EV owners and luxury brand car owners conducted last year on behalf of a major automaker and provided to Daily Kanban by an industry source, reveals why Tesla’s quality and service woes are so critical to the success or failure of the Model 3.

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Tata Motors on Bolt vs. Bolt

Like a bolt from the blue?

Like a bolt from the blue?

When TransportEvolved pointed out that Tata Motors has a five-door hatchback called “Bolt” and suggested that this might be a problem for Chevrolet’s planned Bolt EV, we thought we would reach out to the Indian automaker for comment on the matter. Today, a Tata Motors spokesman made the following statement to DailyKanban:

“Bolt is currently a brand name registered by Tata Motors for the Indian market and we are in the process of registering it for some of our key international markets as relevant. However, we do not presently anticipate any concerns about the GM vehicle as both of these products are focused on very different markets”.

GM has assiduously avoided saying what markets outside the United States it might sell the Bolt in, and has even said it may reconsider the name Bolt altogether. Losing out on the Bolt name in India may not be a deciding factor, but, depending on what other markets Tata registers the Bolt name in, this could potentially become more of an issue. Tata may not “presently anticipate any concerns” with the name-sharing, but if GM has global ambitions for Bolt it may need to reach into its bag of brands to avoid overlap with Tata’s Bolt.

So You Want To Be A Mobility Company?

Time to get out of the lab…



Over the last decade or so, it has become increasingly fashionable for automakers to explore new forms of mobility outside of the traditional automotive paradigm. Initially much of this was the industry’s usual blue-sky “concept car” dreaming, but as Google’s pushes autonomous cars towards reality and the auto industry comes to term with the digital revolution, automakers are taking the idea of rebranding as “mobility companies” more and more seriously. But, as with most high-concept “pivots” that sound good on paper, there are real questions about how exactly a car company is supposed to expand into broader areas of mobility.

The big issues around autonomous cars –be they technological, regulatory or economic– will take some time to hash out, and it could take many product cycles before new mobility markets emerge on any kind of broad scale. But in the meantime, diversifying from automobiles to other forms of mobility may provide surprising new opportunities.

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Why CES Scares Auto Writers

 

So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.” ~Hunter S Thompson

Yes, Virginia, CES is the Most Important Auto Show. Want to know why? Because it isn’t a car show at all. I know, I know…. this is confusing stuff. Hang out for a minute though, and all will be explained.

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