Frustrated fleets promised better service from EV market leader Tesla

Tesla is facing criticism from multiple UK fleet operators, prompting the electric car manufacturer to acknowledge areas for improvement in its fleet management approach.

While some operators have already terminated their contracts with Tesla, others are contemplating removing Tesla vehicles from their fleets due to perceived shortcomings in the company’s interactions with fleet managers.

Despite quickly rising to become one of the top five fleet manufacturers in the UK, Tesla admitted to Fleet News that there are still some areas it is “figuring out”, and that it liked to approach things differently from the established mainstream.

It said it is no stranger to negative feedback due to its position as a disruptor and that it’s in the brand’s DNA to “ruffle some feathers sometimes”.

One major UK fleet, speaking on condition of anonymity, cited concerns over vehicle off-road (VOR) time, servicing delays, and telematics issues as reasons for removing Tesla from its choice lists.

“We felt Teslas put our drivers in situations where they would be waiting too long for their vehicle back should they have an incident out on the road,” said the Tesla corporate customer. “There were long lead times on simple things like windscreen replacements.”

Another corporate customer operating hundreds of electric vehicles (EVs) has split from the popular American electric car brand.

Its fleet manager said: “We’ve walked away from Tesla due to the aftersales experience and the fact they were unwilling to cater to the fleet customer. We could be waiting up to two months for a windscreen repair or body repair. We can’t use our trusted bodyshop partners, we have to use a Tesla approved one because Tesla won’t sell the parts to our preferred supplier.”

crashed tesla model 3 euroncap w268However, Tesla contested these claims, asserting that fleets have the freedom to choose their preferred body repair centers, with no restrictions imposed. The company highlighted its network of Tesla Approved Bodyshops and emphasized its commitment to improving service standards.

Tesla acknowledged the need for better communication and visibility for fleet managers, promising to develop tools to address these concerns. Despite these assurances, some fleet operators remain skeptical, expressing frustration with the perceived lack of responsiveness from Tesla’s higher management.

Another fleet, with hundreds of Tesla company cars, told Fleet News: “It just feels like they don’t care about fleet”.

“Tesla is a retail brand only and their customer is the driver,” they added. “The fleet account managers will tell you one thing, but it feels as though the wider Tesla machine is not interested in changing the way it works to help fleets.

tesla fleet pull quote fn“We have fed back our issues and for whatever reason it’s not getting through when it’s passed higher up.”

One fleet, experiencing pushback about transitioning away from Tesla, emphasized the urgency of addressing these issues. “It’s getting to the point now where we’re so frustrated as a fleet department,” said the fleet manager. “Tesla is creating so much noise… that we can’t continue.”

Tesla EV store illuminated signageThe same fleet reported instances of Tesla orders being canceled due to mismatches in vehicle availability and scheduled delivery dates, leading to operational disruptions and financial implications.

In response, Tesla pledged to introduce tools for reallocating orders and streamlining the delivery process, aiming to alleviate these challenges.

Despite the criticisms, some fleet operators, like Gavin Clisby, head of operations at Ogilvie Fleet, reported positive experiences with Tesla. Clisby praised Tesla’s product reliability and responsive service, highlighting the company’s proactive approach to addressing issues.

As Tesla navigates these challenges, the company faces pressure to improve its fleet management practices to retain its position in the UK market and meet the evolving needs of fleet operators.

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