Quiet, clean, quick, and stylish, the Tesla Model S is, clearly, the best production electric car in the world. Now Tesla Motors is seeking to complement its electric sedan with the "world's best service and warranty program
." Does it live up to the hype?
It kind of does.
The $600 annual service contract is no longer mandatory to preserve warranty coverage, for starters. The expense might seem small in comparison to the actual cost of owning a Model S
, but the removal of the requirement for warranty coverage takes away one of the potential inconveniences of owning an early electric car.
Not that those who opt for the contract will face much in the way of inconvenience any more. Tesla [NSDQ:TSLA] is now offering valet service and loaner cars at no charge.
This means that when your Model S is due for service, Tesla comes to pick up your car, leaving behind a loaner car (all top-of-the-line Model S Performance 85 kWh models) in its place--leaving your Model S usage uninterrupted.
But what if you should decide you like your loaner car better than the one you own? No problem--just keep it. The price of the loaner car will be reduced by one percent for each month of use, and by $1 per mile. Tesla is using this policy to help ensure its loaner cars aren't old, beat-up examples.
Model S owners in some markets can also opt to take a Roadster sports car home instead of a Model S loaner.
On top of all of that, the battery warranty is now unconditional--or nearly so.
While willful damage to the battery pack isn't covered, simple neglect or ignorance is. Even if you don't properly maintain your Model S battery pack, even if you let it drain down to zero charge, Tesla will replace the unit with a reconditioned one of equal or greater capacity at no charge.
Why would Tesla provide warranty coverage like this? According to Elon Musk, "The battery pack in your car is obviously very important and expensive to replace. In developing the Model S, we took great care to ensure that the battery would protect itself, always retaining a few percent of energy. If something goes wrong, it is therefore our fault, not yours. …The intent is to provide complete peace of mind about owning your Model S even if you never read or followed the instructions in the manual."
Well done, Tesla.