Tesla Sinks Into "Delivery Logistics Hell" as Musk Launches In-House Collision Repair

As Tesla continues to struggle with the logistics of not only producing, but also delivering thousands of cars per week, the company's Chief Executive Officer apparently took this as a cue to spread the company's resources even thinner. Elon Musk made a bold new claim over the weekend: Tesla is now going to take on performing most collision repairs in house.

Musk addressed the issue when he tweeted about outside firms taking "weeks to months" for repairs to be completed in response to customer complaints. We recently documented that the poor response from Tesla service, combined with a lack of capable dealers and aftermarket parts, has forced some Tesla owners to resort to fixing their own vehicles instead of bringing them for service. The Tesla owner highlighted in our earlier story reportedly underwent such a "painful" process to seek out repairs for his Model S that at one point he even "considered destroying [his] car".

Musk followed up with even bolder claims, tweeting that he had seen some Tesla collision repair operations "completing within 24 hours". He also said that the company was aiming for same day collision repairs "soon" and then, eventually "under an hour".

Musk also tweeted that his goal was for a repaired car to wind up "better than before [the] accident". 

Given the amount of Model 3s that reportedly have needed to be reworked, this may not be too difficult for him to accomplish. And what better time to try and accomplish this major service center overhaul than as the company dives deeper into "delivery logistics hell", as Musk himself called it in a Tweet late Sunday night.

Musk's Tweet was to a customer who was complaining about delivery of her vehicle being postponed indefinitely. She went so far as to point out to Musk that there were 42 Tesla vehicles sitting at her local railroad depot near Salt Lake City and that one of them was hers. Perhaps Musk should get this woman a job with Tesla delivery logistics...

Recently it appeared as though Tesla had already been taking steps to try and streamline its delivery process. For instance, we reported last week that the company was narrowing down its options for paint on new vehicles and that the company was now upcharging for two colors that were previously available as standard.

Social media has been plagued with reports of Tesla customers who have put money down on Model 3s, but have yet to find out when they will get their vehicles. Even the Tesla Motors Club forum plays host to agitated customers who are looking for more information about when they will be taking delivery of their Tesla. People that are trying to contact the company often say that different departments at the company are feeding them different stories.

Musk acknowledged on September 12 that there was a "large increase in vehicle delivery volume" that was leading to "longer response times".  

Owners who have been lucky enough to take delivery of their vehicles have been complaining that repairs can take months and that inquiries to the company are sometimes not even acknowledged. Tesla looks to be trying to poach employees from other parts of its business to help stop the bleeding. For example, a spokeswoman for the company told the LA Times that she spent her day on Wednesday of last week volunteering at a delivery center.

Meanwhile, customers like Richard Lam may eventually start to lose patience. He has been waiting for more than two months and has already paid the company $79,500. He’s paying principal and interest on his loan and he hasn’t taken delivery of a vehicle yet. He stated that once he was promised a delivery time, the company missed two delivery dates. He was told on August 8, 45 minutes before his scheduled pick up, that his car wasn’t available. And on August 30, he was given conflicting stories by the company: one person told him his car hadn't been built yet, and someone else reportedly told him it hadn’t yet been put on a delivery truck.

He was later told that his August 8 delivery was canceled because the car didn’t meet quality standards. In addition to social media being inundated with complaints about Model 3 quality, it was also reported that the first run of Model 3 vehicles at the company's targeted run rate of 5,000 per week resulted in only ~14% of vehicles not needing to be reworked.

Other similar stories are also popping up. For instance, Anandhi Bharadwaj, a professor of information systems and operations management at Emory University in Atlanta, said she wired Tesla $60,000 for a Model 3 and, after being told the car was ready that day, was told several hours later that it would be delivered September 9. That delivery was subsequently canceled. She also claims that she was "upsold" to a more expensive Model 3 version after putting down a deposit in 2016, the same time Musk described the vehicle as costing $35,000. 

After a reporter from the LA Times started poking around for an answer at her local Tesla retail store, she was "miraculously" able to pick up a vehicle on Wednesday of last week. However, the joy was short-lived: when she picked her car up, it had a "small rip" in the back seat.