The Tesla Warranty is Ludicrous
We’ve had our favorite vehicle, which we’ve affectionately named eHawk (Ebon Hawk), for about 9 weeks now. It has been faithfully running the LA and Orange County to Vegas tesloops (our supercharger-laden routes), and over the last couple months we’ve put over 35 thousand miles on the car.
Several days ago an alert about reduced power started to sporadically come on the dashboard. Like the check engine light that appears on any car, it suggested we call tech support to find out what the issue was. Tech support at Tesla is in a class by itself, and before you even bring the car in they can look over at a set of logs that your car generates and diagnose the issue. The Tesla service center decided they would need to take it in. They came out to the house, took eHawk away and left us with an even faster Model S in its place.
Today I got the news that the service center was going to replace the front motor in eHawk. My first thought was “Wow, only 35k and the motor blew out. That’s not good.” My next thought was “I’m glad this was under warranty, and it would be horrible it if had happened after the 50k standard warranty.” Then I realize “well, the motor didn’t actually blow out, it just reported a power issue alert, which had no noticeable effects on speed or power. However, after looking at the logs, Tesla decided to replace the motor anyway.”
So I ask the service manager, “How much would this cost to replace if it wasn’t under warranty?”
He answers, “Probably something like 10 or 12 thousand.”
“I’m lucky this didn’t happen 15 thousand miles later, after the warranty ran out,” I tell him.
“Oh, no, this is covered by the infinite mile, 8 year warranty,” he notes.
“I thought that only covered the battery and the drivetrain,” I reply.
“The motor is part of the drivetrain,” he clarifies, without making me feel stupid at all.
That was when I realized what Tesla was really offering. While the original warranty for this car was 50k for 4 years. Their warranty was upgraded about a year ago (retroactively to all 85kw cars) to an Infinite Mile Warranty for 8 years on the battery and drive unit.
So essentially what Tesla is guaranteeing is that, no matter how much you drive, your car’s core propulsion system will keep going for 8 years. And there aren’t even any restrictions on commercial use.
Now for us, our goal is to drive cars 400k miles a year. This is not too far from the theoretical maximum miles you can drive a tesla, which is roughly 500k miles a year (assuming the car is always driving at 70mph or charging).
So what this means for us at Tesloop, is that Tesla is going to guarantee our car will keep running for 3 million miles. This is unprecedented on so many levels. Has any other serious manufacturer ever offered a warranty for anything at this magnitude of longevity? If there were a road to the moon, you could drive there and back 8 times and still be covered under warranty. Now of course, unless you are in a business where your goal is 100% utilization of the vehicle, you're never going to get anywhere near this milage, but it's good to know that you're always covered in the first 8 years.
This also effectively means that Tesla will retake possession of every defective motor, giving them a chance to diagnose the problems with a nearly perfect sample size and make fixes to the design. Will other electric vehicle companies match this operation?
While it remains to be seen if our current eHawk’s motors will last another 3 million miles, I think that the ones they sell in 3 to 5 years, will likely be able to consistently go that distance.
The economic implications of a car whose drivetrain will last this long are staggering. It essentially means that the cost per mile to propel this car will trend down to the low pennies range, a drop of something close to an order of magnitude versus other cars on the market today.
It seems that when Elon talks about their plan to make cars that are 10 times better than anything else on the road, he’s also ready to walk the walk.
P.S. after getting back the invoice, I see that Tesla Service also: Discovered a minor air leak in a door at high speeds. Fixed the handle and mounting of the door handle causing this. Replaced the front facing camera. Serviced the radar. Performed a front end alignment. Washed the car. Delivered the car back to us and took back their loaner. All at no cost.
Rahul Sonnad is co-founder and CEO of Tesloop. Over the last several months, Rahul has personally driven about 15,000 miles on Tesla’s Autopilot. Tesloop’s cars are currently being driven on average 18k miles per month, and Tesloop’s first car has been driven over 115k miles on Autopilot since late last year.
Tesloop’s manages and operates an expanding fleet of electric Tesla vehicles offering city-to-city shared-car transportation. Tesloop’s service, launched in July 2015, offers transportation on routes from LA and Orange County to Las Vegas. The Tesloop model disrupts city-to-city travel by leveraging the low cost of electricity and a business model that immediately utilizes the latest in autonomous driving technology. Collectively, this platform enables a 5x to 10x cost efficiency vs. all other alternatives, as well as significant time efficiencies. The service has received rave reviews from its growing customer base, and is rapidly expanding with routes to Palm Springs and San Diego planned for this spring.
Tesloop’s mission is to enable its community of travelers to create an amazing & sustainable travel experience, and make access to this convenient and affordable. Tesloop's goal is to employ autonomous/electric vehicle technology towards its highest utilization thus creating the maximum societal benefits.