Handing over the keys to a new vehicle owner is something that typically involves a vehicle introduction, walking the customer through the car’s features, signing of contracts and of course handing of the keys.
Servicing a car typically involves a customer dropping off your keys, then with the service complete, having a conversation with the service agent on what was repaired and a financial transaction to settle your account.
With social distancing regulations now in place across Australia, vehicle servicing and vehicle deliveries are pretty challenging, but one company is uniquely positioned to handle it.
One of Tesla’s biggest strengths is its technology stack and having always-on connectivity in their cars, opens the door to some unique options.
Today, I spent most of the day at Tesla’s Richmond, Delivery and Service Centre. This visit afforded me the opportunity to see a number of new owners get into their new Model 3s.
It’s easy to see why the Tesla staff love their jobs, you get to see the excitement and joy in people’s faces as they receive the cars they’d worked so hard to achieve, like a doctor delivering a newborn.
Deliveries today were a little different than normal. Staff always maintained the safe 1.5m distance and had the intro videos queued up in the car, rather than walk new owners through the features themselves. Of course the delivery managers answered questions where required, but all of it was hands-off.
In terms of handing over the keys, the key card was left in the card (everything wiped down) and the new customer could access the car using their Tesla app on the mobile.
Even the legal contract stuff is fully electronic. At your pickup appointment time, Tesla sends you the appropriate agreement (purchase, lease etc) via email and using Adobe Sign, enables customers to digitally sign as required.
Now for my touchless service experience.
Recently I’d started hearing a clicking noise as I accelerated at low speed, through a left turn and only left. I took a look under the car, but seen no obvious signs of things scraping, so I booked an appointment with Tesla through the app.
I received a call ahead of the appointment to confirm some details about the issue, but then received two emails from Tesla. The first was an Adobe Sign request to confirm the details of the job and the appointment details.
The second email contained the steps involved in the touchless service experience and what to expect when I arrived. The instructions were pretty straight forward and included:
When you arrive at the Service Centre, please follow these instructions;
- Drive your car into the Service Centre through the roller door located on Howard st
- Park your car as far forward as possible
- Leave your key/keycard in your car
- Honk your horn as you leave your vehicle
- Wait for the Service Advisor to arrive before you leave
NOTE: You do not need to hand the keys to the Service Advisor. We simply ask you await their arrival to ensure the security of your vehicle.
During the day, if there are any changes to your collection time, we will contact you to provide an update. If payment is required, we will contact you to take this payment via phone.
Finally, when your car is ready for collection, we will send you an SMS to notify you and park the car out the front of the Service Centre.
- Your key/keycard will be in the front trunk
- You can unlock your vehicle using your app on arrival
- Your Tax invoice will be emailed to you
This morning I drive down the Hume Hwy from Wodonga to Melbourne (around 350kms) and let’s be honest, Autopilot did most of the work. I’d still love to get the Full Self Driving package for automated overtakes, but regardless, I arrived at 9:30AM, ahead of my 10AM appointment.
I followed the steps and the vehicle handoff went flawlessly with almost nobody around and certainly no contact between myself and employees. As I headed to the owner’s lounge to borrow some WiFI, I saw the Tesla service representatives were wiping down vehicles as a first step, to protect themselves when entering customer vehicles, as well as wearing gloves, smart.
I was told via the app, it could be as late as 4PM before I got the car back, understanding that until they test drove the car to replicate and hear the noise, it was difficult to understand the solution for the problem. This was fine as I’d planned to be down there for the day.
When it came time to pick up the car (3:30PM), I received another email, with a link to sign another document, this time the Acceptance of the Tesla Service Invoice. I reviewed the document, seen that the service representative was able to replicate the noise and identified it to be suspension related.
Thankfully nothing needed replacing, the remedy was to retorque the bolts. Another test drive had confirmed that the issue was resolved. I electronically signed the document on my phone and the Tesla mobile app then moved from Service mode, back to user mode.
The car was wiped down again before it was handed back to me and the job was done and I was on my way. All of this took place without a handshake, any printed paperwork, and while maintaining social distancing rules.
It’s clear to me after today’s experience that Tesla are unlikely almost every other automaker, in that they have the technology stack necessary to do this and their staff training made this feel like they’d been doing it this way for years.
Not only does Tesla lead the industry in battery and EV drivetrain efficiency, but also in autonomous driving. It is times like today that really make me sit back and take a second to appreciate the full technical capabilities of Tesla vehicles and their company when they can turn on experiences like this so rapidly, the innovation rate of the company is incredible.
Good luck other automakers, the bar is set bloody high, hope you can catch up.