Car Culture

Tesla owners are 'fanatical' even as service lags, study shows

It's not all roses in the latest study from Bernstein Research, but it's pretty close.

It doesn't take a sleuth to figure out that Tesla owners sure do love all things Tesla, but a new study probes the depths of that love, which comes even at the expense of middling service experiences.

A new study from Bernstein Research, helmed by A.M. Sacconaghi, Jr., and Max Warburton, polled 286 Tesla owners on a variety of things from brand enjoyment to service experiences, even touching briefly on the Model 3. Naturally, the study points out that Tesla owners are "fanatical," regardless of where they live or what model they bought.

It'll be interesting to see how these studies change as Model 3 deliveries begin.


The study found 83 percent of respondents are much more likely to repurchase a Tesla, compared with other cars they've owned; 90 percent agree that EVs provide a better driving experience, and 68 percent say they'll never buy another gas-powered car again. When it comes to conquests from other automakers, the study shows that Tesla owners are most likely to be current or former BMW owners.

Surprisingly, only 76 percent of respondents said they'd enabled Autopilot, which allows brief periods of hands-off driving, though 81 percent of frequent Autopilot users polled claim it's one of the best parts of the Tesla experience. Related: 79 percent of respondents have full confidence in its abilities on the highway, while only 22 percent have faith in its capabilities off the highway.

It's not all positive, though. When it comes to service, not everyone is happy. The owners in the poll averaged 1.3 service center visits each, over an average ownership period of 1.2 years. For those visits, 30 percent couldn't get an appointment within 10 days, and 22 percent didn't get their problem solved the first time. On the extreme end, 17 percent of owners polled needed three or more visits to get their problems solved.

When it comes to the Model 3, a number of current owners do hold reservations, but they're not exactly holding on to hope with the same grip strength. 30 percent of reservation holders polled were "unsure, unlikely or very unlikely" to actually take delivery of their Model 3. With hundreds of thousands of reservations, that would put a pretty big dent in the pile of refundable deposits Tesla is currently sitting on.

While the poll doesn't necessary uncover anything new -- we know Tesla owners are passionate, and reports from everywhere don't paint the best picture of the company's service efforts -- it's interesting to see the data laid out in this manner. It'll be even more interesting when Model 3 deliveries start in earnest and future studies start including them.