(Note: This post was updated to indicate the number of states with no Tesla service centers.)
Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) offers several levels of service plans. However, it does not have a lot of places to have its cars serviced. In many states, it has no service centers at all.
Tesla has built a reputation for producing cars that need little or no work. If one crashes, Tesla has approved body shops that are fairly easy to reach. As for its service centers, Tesla tried to offer loaners to owners who have their Tesla in the shop. But it is in the midst of a balancing act between what it sells, where it sells and where it services.
A look at the Tesla service center national map shows centers in major cities, unless those cities are unlikely to have Tesla owners, and they are unlikely to have owners in the future. California, the Tesla capital of the world, has service centers up and down the coast, as well as inland in Sacramento. Dallas, Austin and Houston are covered in Texas. So are Palm Beach, Miami, Tampa and Orlando in Florida.
Tesla has no service center in several large states. None in Indiana or Michigan. None in Kentucky or Virginia. None in 19 states.
The service network size has to be a disadvantage when compared to other companies, like BMW, that have started to aggressively move into the electric car business. Without a dealer network, which in the traditional car distribution model means a service center as well, Tesla has to balance availability with the cost of offering nearby service. It has to comb through the metrics of how quickly it needs new service centers well ahead of when it absolutely has to have them. The 400,000 back orders of Model 3 cars will make that progressively more difficult, as will the pace at which Tesla builds its Gigafactory.
In the meantime, don’t try to find a Tesla service center in most states.