By Jeff Sanford
Toronto, Ontario -- July 3, 2015 -- Tesla Motors has cultivated a reputation for being on the cutting edge of technology. Improper repairs to one of the company’s vehicles could easily damage this reputation, so building a strong network of repair centres has been one of Tesla’s top priorities.
Andy MacDonald, Body Repair Program Manager for Tesla, presented on this topic recently at the annual International Bodyshop Industry Symposium (IBIS). Collision Repair magazine is the Canadian media partner for IBIS, which allows us to bring you an exclusive look at the international conference’s content.
MacDonald came to Tesla after a fourteen-year career at Aston Martin. “I decided to come to sunny Southern California,” he said. He wanted in on the ground floor at a new and innovative car company.
Tesla, of course, introduced its electric-based Roadster in 2008. It has since come out with the Model S, which is its current main model. Repairing this advanced vehicle is fairly complex.
The body of the Model S is, of course, mostly aluminum (it is a 3000, 5000, 6000 series welded and rivet-bonded body structure). As such, Tesla requires the certified collision centres that join its global network to offer advanced aluminum welding skills.
According to MacDonald, the global network of approved repair facilities is “Rapidly growing.” Tesla-approved collision centres should be located near a Tesla Service Center or a “high number of Tesla customers.” Shops hoping to be licensed to repair Tesla vehicles will be required to meet body repair program operating standards. The shops will be audited via online processes, as well as through visits from Tesla personnel. Approved body shops order parts directly from Tesla. Structural, HV and safety system parts are restricted to repair by an approved network.
Another requirement: Approved collision repair centres have to make repairs complete within 30 days or sooner. Non-approved facilities can order non-structural parts from service centres. Audatex will be the global estimating platform for Tesla Motors and AutoWatch is used for Network Performance Management.
According to MacDonald, data is key—all repair cases are tracked, monitored and measured. Having the repair cycle driven by data analysis results in continual efficient improvements.
“The integrity of the repair is critical,” says MacDonald. “We have to preserve the residual value of the vehicle. We don’t straighten structural parts.”