Tesla Model S in for service

It appears that Tesla's new $600-per-year service program for its Model S is not going over well with some of the owners and wait-listers. David Noland, a Model S reservation holder and freelance writer, has dug into it the details and clarified the one he's finding most annoying. And as it turns out, he's not the only one taking issue with the program.

According to Green Car Reports, Noland owns a 2011 Chevrolet Volt and likes the service coverage for the plug-in hybrid's electric motor and battery thermal-management system. It only needs minimal maintenance – a $49 annual system check at a local dealer and a $35 oil change every two years. That's $84 for two years of routine maintenance. For the Model S, it's a lot higher: $600 per year, and that electric car doesn't even need the oil change.

Tesla's official website says that the annual fee includes an inspection, replacement parts such as brakes and windshield wipers, roadside assistance, system monitoring, remote diagnostics and software updates, so it is more comprehensive. Looking for more detailed information, Noland contacted Tesla's public relations department but reportedly never heard back. Tesla CEO Elon Musk, though, did eventually respond to Noland's questions. "We are matching service cost to be less than a Mercedes of comparable purchase price," Musk wrote. "This basically amounts to $50/month and covers all software upgrades as well as concierge level service."

When Noland responded with a question about whether Tesla owners who opt out of the service program won't receive software upgrades, Musk apparently didn't respond.

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Further investigation showed that the matter is even more serious. In a recent blog post on Tesla Motor Club forum, Tesla's vice president, George Blankenship, made the policy more clear in comments on a post about the new service plans: failure to pay $600 for an annual inspection voids the warranty. Plus, any visit to a non-Tesla shop for any type of service will void the warranty, a provision that could run afoul of the law.

This isn't going over well with Model S owners. In a Tesla Motors Club forum survey, 12 percent agreed that Tesla had "screwed the pooch," and would cancel their orders. About 48 percent think the price is too high but will reluctantly pay it since they don't think they have another choice. Only nine percent think it's a great deal worth every dollar.

Noland thinks it's odd that Tesla is taking what looks like the opposite approach with the Supercharger, offering the fast charging for free. He'd like to see Tesla do something similar with its Model S maintenance plan, or at least follow the example of BMW, where every one of its luxury cars comes with four years/50,000 miles of included service.