Despite Fatal Auto Pilot Crash, Tesla Primed for Market Dominance

Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla

Santa Paula, CA—July 2016—There are two major indicators that Tesla’s Model 3 is turning over the world of auto repair and professional service. First and foremost, as of July 12, 2016, the Tesla 3 model, which is expected to cost consumers $35,000, already has 325,000 pre-orders/deposits. For context, the Toyota Camry sold just over 250,000 units in 2015. Meanwhile, the Chevy Silverado sold 330,000 units that year. The only higher-selling vehicles were the Ford F-series, which includes multiple models. So if you’re in the business of auto repair, the future is fast falling upon you.

The second indicator that Tesla isn’t going anywhere is that their chief executive, Elon Musk, is assuring the public that despite the fatal crash that killed a Tesla test driver who was utilizing his vehicle’s autopilot system, the company has no plans to abandon the autopilot. In other words, don’t expect to see any production delays or product recalls. Body shops can expect to see hundreds of thousands (and eventually millions) of Tesla models on the road, which means the market will soon be saturated with new repairs for new technologies.

Special riveters are required by Tesla (actual model required may be different)

To even become a Tesla-approved body shop, the Tesla certification requires “three five-day courses at $1,500 each and a [special] riveter.” Further complicating the process, reports of somewhat minor body damage costing consumers tens of thousands of dollars for repairs indicate that now is a good time to get on the Tesla repair know-how bandwagon. Why? The economics of it are simple: the more Tesla vehicles get put on the market, the less the brand will be considered a “specialty” or luxury name and the cheaper these repairs will become. Cheaper, but no less technologically advanced. This puts professional shops in a prime position to benefit from these upcoming market changes, if they are prepared.

$30,000 worth of damage on a Tesla S (parts and labor)

Body shop owner Larry Peotter is aware of the inherent costs in servicing new vehicle fleets, having just spent $300,000 on Audi service upgrades, but he knows the importance of being available to as wide of a customer base as possible. Mr. Peotter claims that he is already seeing a return on his investment. He says, “You’re giving yourself a new source of work, and you’re becoming an expert to a customer base that is going to really want that.”

As the Tesla brand grows, as suggested by 325,000 (and growing) Model 3 back-orders, the auto service market is probably going to be a step behind, which means your shop can get certified early (yes, you’ll have to eat the upfront certification costs in the short run) and be the most experienced body shop in the neighborhood when it comes to servicing the vehicles of tomorrow. This isn’t meant to be a Tesla plug, but clearly the company has caught the public attention for the time being. We’ll continue to follow this story, as well as other technological innovations in the automotive world.

Larry Peotter, body shop owner

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