Stefan Moeller began this year with an ambitious goal: to make his Nextmove car rental company Tesla Inc.'s largest customer in Germany by adding 100 Model 3s to its fleet. He compared the arrival of an electric car on the European shores of the tsunami that washes the region, which is slow to accept battery-powered cars.
But the powerful wave that Moeller was expecting came down to the trick. After a few weeks back and unfinished repair work and quality issues involving the initial 15 limousines Tesla delivered – from scratched bumpers to moisture trapped behind the headlights – ordering the remaining 85 Model 3s was canceled. Tesla also tried to deliver previously registered cars, which would lock Nextm out of Germany's electric car incentive program and a potential tax refund, Moeller said.
“The Model 3 is a fantastic car. Some of our customers have completely fallen in love with him, "said Moeller, whose Leipzig-based company has more than 300 electric vehicles in its fleet, including 38 Model S and a dozen Model X." But the organization behind it is not responsible yes. It's really sobering. "
Subpar service could be an obstacle for Tesla to make even more of an impact in Germany, where demanding car owners appreciate how painstakingly their BMWs and Mercedes care as much as the speed of the Autobahn. CEO Elon Musk, who famously recalled criticism on Twitter, acknowledged earlier this year that the lack of service centers in Germany is hindering the company's growth there.
Tesla believes Nextmove's decision to cancel the remaining Model 3 order was not entirely due to quality issues, and was largely driven by frustration with an unrelated dispute earlier this year, a spokesman said. The carmaker was in the process of repairing and providing the customer with rental vehicles at the time of order cancellation.
A Tesla spokesman blamed the registration issue that Nextmove described on a temporary issue with matching vehicle IDs and said the issue was resolved for vulnerable customers.
Poor service is a problem that has already plagued Tesla in Norway, Europe's largest per capita electric car market. The jammed and lightly colored vehicles have raised the highest level of complaints per unit among all automakers, according to a national observer.
In Europe, Tesla is competing with time as more established players awaken to an electric future. This continent is expected to be the world's second-largest electric car startup in the next decade, trailing only China. Customers can already choose from a growing number of models with batteries such as Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar and Audi.
Moeller said the rest of Nextm's Model 3 order was canceled after requiring an improved submission and correction process. And he says the carmaker's problems go beyond the Model 3.
For two years, he waited for the carmaker to replace the seat in the Model X that shipped in July 2017 with a hole in it. The Model 3 arrived recently with a bulging protrusion on one tire. Moeller shared for Bloomberg News his email correspondence with Tesla and photos of the damaged vehicles.
A Tesla spokesman said the company data did not indicate any unusual issues related to vehicle quality specific to Germany or anywhere else in the world. The company said that there was a small chance that cars would break down during transit to customers and that these problems would be quickly resolved.
& # 39; Seriously worrying & # 39;
Nextmove is not an isolated case. German social media platforms and online forums are piling up customers who complain about defective parts from sensors to suspensions. Many also describe Tesla's domestic sales organization as inappropriate.
"I'm still thrilled with the car because it's just so much better than anything I've driven before, but the quality of service and some of the technical parts are a serious concern," Rouven Volk, who emailed to say he ordered his Model 3 in February, was scheduled for delivery less than a month later.
Wolf chronicles with Tesla an odyssey that began with a car that could not be surrendered due to a faulty main display. The company decided to get another Model 3 from its European pool and set a new delivery date a month later. Then there were exterior and interior exteriors on the car, and the cable hung where the back seats needed light. Nowhere were the charging cables and winter tires ordered by him found.
A Tesla spokesman said dissatisfied customers could return their cars with a full refund up to seven days after the purchase. The company data shows that German customers are largely satisfied with their vehicles, including the quality and condition of the car after delivery.
"Generally, customers who accept people early are forgiving unconventional newcomers like Tesla a lot of things," said Stefan Bratzel, a researcher at the Car Management Center near Cologne. "But the more Tesla enters broader customer segments, the more distribution and service it will function."
The rise of the cards
The sale of Model 3, Tesla's most affordable model, helped make the brand the fastest-growing brand in Germany in the first seven months of this year, industrial watchdog figures show KBA. While 6,816 registrations still lag behind the market leader, Tesla has been retailing more brands including Jaguar and Alpha Romeo.
Tesla is in the process of doubling the number of service centers in Germany at 17 locations, with a focus mainly in urban areas, including Berlin, Hamburg and Munich, according to the company’s website. The carmaker also deploys in mid-size cities such as Kiel, Ulm and Mannheim, listing separately 16 retail outlets in the country.
The presence of brick and mortar is still far from the expanding infrastructure that established car manufacturers have been building in Germany for decades. Volkswagen AG, the country's best-selling car maker, has hundreds of dedicated dealerships and services.
Then, Musk is betting that there will be a shift towards electric cars, and digital services will boost the retail and sales business. Battery-powered cars have fewer components that are at risk of breaking. Tesla also plans to expand its mobile service fleet by 50% and increase mobile service coverage five times in Europe this year, according to a spokesman.
For Volk, rust began to appear between the front fender and the driver's door of his Model 3 after about 100 days and 15,000 kilometers, which he attributes to the friction of the sheet not being properly tilted. Getting Tesla's service staff was challenging because some employees familiar with his case left the company, Volk said.
Malte Ahl said in an email that he had withdrawn a contract for his Model 3 in March after Tesla did not respond to concerns about the defects, including poor paint quality, passenger seat scratches and dysfunctional switches.
"I find this way of treating Tesla's most loyal fans unfair and unsustainable," he wrote in an attached letter sent to a German company unit.