Tesla Motors, in an attempt to stimulate innovation, released their patents for the world to see. This, and the company’s goal to create a product that would not need to be regularly scheduled for maintenance, is causing an uneasiness in car dealers and oil companies. In states across the country, powerful car dealer associations have lobbied against the electric car manufacturer and its direct-sales model, ending with New Jersey banning Tesla stores in the state.
Sales in New Jersey of Tesla’s $70,000 Model S were in the hundreds. However, economists have speculated that the fear in the car dealerships and oil companies is not so much the sales of the vehicles, but that Tesla Motors will create a world where car owners will no longer have to bring their car into the shop again.
This is brought on the notion that Tesla cars are an “app on four wheels.” The core of the technology in Teslas is computer software. The internet connected cars are designed to self-diagnose any issues with the vehicles, and when possible, fix them on their own. The electric vehicles can also download updates and software fixes. Tesla Motors stated that these features will make going to the shop for repairs an extreme rarity.
The ability for the car to repair itself via software is especially important when considering that the vehicles have such high-tech computer software that a computer programmer would be more apt to repair the vehicle than an automotive mechanic, and without an internal combustion engine: there’s not much that can go wrong or would need to be fixed.
One of the statements from Tesla Motors that is causing uneasiness in car dealers and oil companies is that they do not have any of the parts that force their owners to be subjected to regularly scheduled maintenance. Teslas are recommended to be brought in for inspection when prompted by the car’s computer system. The system issues prompts with varying degrees of frequency, commonly once every 12,000 miles.
A very significant portion of the income for oil companies and car dealers are repairs. Technology experts cited that they are worried by Elon Musk’s company, saying that it is difficult to charge for an oil change when there is no oil to be changed. Also, the cars run entirely on electricity and if batteries become as, or more, efficient than gas powered engines -which may have already happened considering that an electric car recently traveled over 1,000 miles on a single charge (link to that story is at the bottom of this article)- oil companies are expected to lose a lot of business and possibly become obsolete.
The reviews for the vehicles made by Tesla Motors are not helping the uneasiness in car dealers in oil companies. Consumer Reports named the Tesla Model S the country’s best overall car. Musk argued in a press conference that no matter how hard car dealers and oil companies lobby their governments, the consumers’ desire for a simpler, cheaper, and more efficient vehicle will inevitably win out. He went on to state that the goal of Tesla Motors is to not make a profit on service, as opposed to traditional car dealers.
By Andres Loubriel