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Tesla drivers don’t always know how to use their cars. Elon Musk wants to teach them

Posted at 6:18 PM, Jul 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-25 14:21:12-04

Tesla executives are looking for ways to improve service and lower costs after the company posted another three months of major losses Wednesday. One proposed strategy: doing a better job of teaching customers how to use their cars.

On a call with Wall Street analysts, CEO Elon Musk said he’s targeting the service division as an area where the company could be saving money. The number one reason customers visit Tesla service centers isn’t because something is wrong with their cars but because they just don’t know how to use them, said Jerome Guillen, Tesla’s automotive president. One particular challenge for Tesla owners is the self-driving “autopilot” feature.

“It’s like, how do I turn it on?” Musk said of the feature.

Tesla has struggled to provide timely service to its customers. Musk has said improving service will be among the top priorities for the company this year. He said Tesla is working to do more work at customers’ homes and offices, rather than having them bring cars into the service centers.

Musk said that while the company is expanding its network of service centers, Tesla plans to better educate new customers about the cars’ user interfaces, so they don’t visit service centers as often.

“The best service, really, is no service,” Musk said on the call.

Earlier this year, Consumer Reports stopped recommending the Tesla Model 3 after consumers complained about its reliability.

The cost-saving idea comes at a difficult time for the car company. In the three months ending in June, Tesla lost $408 million, causing the stock to plummet. Tesla attributed some of the that loss to one-time operating expenses and currency exchange fluctuations, and it also included included losses in the division of the business for servicing cars. The company reported a -23% profit margin for the service business, though that was an improvement from the prior quarter.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the reason Tesla gave for why customers visit its service centers.