Tesla announced Tuesday that it will significantly expand the number of service centers and technicians as it prepares for the rollout of the Model 3 sedan, its most affordable electric car yet.
The automaker said it plans to increase its service capacity worldwide threefold by adding 100 service centers, where owners can take their vehicles; 350-plus new mobile units (with technicians) that can go to car owners; and 1,400 Tesla technicians.
In the near future, Tesla says owners will be able to schedule a service appointment right from their car.
Tesla passed the 100,000-units-sold mark earlier this year, and with hundreds of thousands of Model 3s on order, service demand is likely to increase.
For years, Tesla has been able to repair or update software over the air, and the automaker says 90 percent of the problems with its cars can be diagnosed remotely. But Tesla says a mobile tech can be dispatched to any location to solve problems that can’t be fixed remotely.
Some of the details of the service expansion were spelled out in a video the automaker posted Tuesday morning on Twitter. Tesla did not immediately respond to multiple emailed questions from Consumer Reports, such as how many of the new centers, mobile units, and technicians would be U.S.-based.
Reliability has been a concern for Tesla before, especially with the rollout of new models.
“Consumer Reports’ survey data show that Tesla has struggled with reliability, especially with the Model X, their last introduction,” said Jake Fisher, director of auto testing at CR. “It’s critical for the Model 3 not only to have good reliability, but Tesla also will need the ability to repair the vehicles quickly in order to maintain customer loyalty and satisfaction.”
The first 30 Model 3 sedans are scheduled to be delivered to their owners at a Tesla event on July 28, although the automaker has had to adjust its target dates in the past. The Model 3, priced at $35,000, is the automaker’s first mass-market EV, expected to have a range of 215 miles.
The Model S, the company’s flagship car, starts at $69,500 and gets a top estimated range of 331 miles (for the P100D trim). According to the CEO, Elon Musk, production of the Model 3 will start slowly, with about 100 units in August. But he says the pace should grow “exponentially” to around 20,000 units a month by the end of 2017.
Consumer Reports has ordered a Model 3. Once it arrives, we will put it through our usual testing procedures.