I’ve taken my Tesla to the Dartford Service Centre today to have my camera “calibrated”.
This is needed because I had to replace the windscreen before Christmas after a stone cracked the glass (for the second time in as many months!)
The windscreen was replaced by Autoglass but they can’t calibrate the camera as they do on other vehicles because, they say, “Tesla won’t let them have the software”.
I suspect the reason for Tesla’s reluctance is because of the advanced autopilot system which relies heavily on the front camera for its correct functioning. Any errors in calibration could potentially cause malfunctioning automatic driving which would be something that Tesla would want to avoid.
The actual process is pretty slick – you book the appointment on the Tesla app and all the communication about it is thereafter done through text message.
When you arrive at the service centre you simply drive through the automatic door and then walk through to the adjacent service department to register. The service staff then take pictures of the car to record any damage (for the obvious reasons) and then ask you to sign to consent to the work.
Then, assuming it’s a short job, you sit in the lounge, drink the free coffee and wait until they tell you you car is ready. (If you’re out and about the app will tell you the car is ready.)
This is the experience in the UK but it is already being refined elsewhere in the world.
In Northern California where there are many, many more Teslas YouTuber All Electric describes his encounter with a fully automatic service experience, which, incidentally he wasn’t too thrilled about.
There you drive into the service bay, sign in via the dedicated iPads and get an Uber credit texted to you phone to take you home. Then the app tells you when the car is ready, you get another Uber credit and you can pick it up.
One of the things that frequently happens in the UK at the service centre is that people forget to turn off the pin-to-drive feature which means the technicians can’t drive the car until it has been unlocked with the unique pin you have set. And this can only be turned off in the car itself, not remotely through the app.
It’s not clear how the Californian service centre handles this, or how it deals with any subsequent claims over incidental damage while the car is being serviced in the absence of agreed photographic evidence.
As Tesla’s rapid growth continues it is inevitable that they have to innovate to try to keep up. We can expect more change in the experience in the future.