|The entrance to the Tesla Motors Service Center on Route 17 in Paramus, N.J.|
By VICTOR E. SASSON
Tesla Motors is well-known for putting customers first -- from direct sales to free use for life of a nationwide network of fast electric chargers.
Dealers for traditional automakers -- whether Ford, GM, Chrysler, Toyota or Mercedes-Benz -- have made buying and servicing a car two of life's most unpleasant experiences.
Think of that last brake job the service writer insisted you absolutely had to have to keep your family safe from disaster (and to line his or her pocket with more commission).
Now, Tesla CEO Elon Musk is the first to take the focus off of service as a profit center:
Tesla "intentionally operates its service centers at break-even," Musk says.
"We don't believe in profiting off our product, if it is not working," he said in a message to Model S owners in rolling out Tesla's referral program.
This is what he had to say about service:
"Tesla received the highest customer feedback rating for service of any car brand in production: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2015/03/best-places-to-get-your-car-repaired/index.htm
"A big reason for this is that Tesla intentionally operates its service centers at break-even. We don't believe in profiting off our product if it is not working.
"Our service centers are located throughout North America and Canada, with Mexico coming soon: http://www.teslamotors.com/findus/service
"If there isn't one near you, no problem: our Tesla ranger service will take care of you wherever you are."
Compare that to a $25 labor charge at the Toyota dealer in Hackensack, N.J., to install a $25 cabin air filter in a 2010 Prius -- a job the owner can perform in less than 5 minutes with the help of a YouTube video.