Car Industry

Tesla's opening a service center in Toledo, Ohio, for Detroit customers

The move could be seen as a big middle finger to Michigan lawmakers that have blocked Tesla's efforts to sell cars in that state.

Now Detroit-area Tesla owners won't have to figure out how to get their cars to Cleveland to be repaired, because the Big T opened a service center just over the Ohio border in Toledo.

Pierre-Henry Deshayes/AFP/Getty Images

Like the great Kermit the Frog says, it isn't easy being green, nor apparently is it easy being a Tesla owner in Michigan. That could be changing though for residents of the southeast portion of the state, thanks to a new Tesla service center just across the state line in Toledo, Ohio, Automotive News reported Wednesday.

Why is Tesla going to all the trouble of building a service center in Ohio and not in Michigan itself? That's complicated, but basically, it stems from a dealer franchise law that was put into effect by then-Governor Rick Snyder in 2014.

That law forbids Tesla's direct-sales model and essentially means that Tesla can't sell cars in the state of Michigan. This has forced those bold souls who want what the Big T is selling to go elsewhere, like Illinois or Ohio. It has also made getting their cars serviced a really complicated affair.

Now, while a 60-mile drive from Detroit to Toledo isn't as easy as popping over to the dealership on the other side of town, it is a lot more convenient than driving all the way to Cleveland or Chicago, both of which are around 4 hours away.

"These new service locations are heavily focused on making good on our promise to expand access to service and improve the customer experience. Toledo, along with our other new service locations, [is] part of our increased investment in service in 2019," a Tesla representative told Roadshow. "As we continue to see more new Tesla owners in different regions, it's important to us that local residents can conveniently get their car serviced by our expert technicians, either by visiting a brick-and-mortar location or scheduling mobile service for at-home inspections and repairs. As of Q1 2019, we had 550 service vehicles in our mobile service fleet."

Tesla estimates that it has around 1,500 customers in Michigan, and it's currently involved in litigation against the state to reverse the ban on direct sales there. The Toledo service center is not accepting drop-ins, but appointments for service can be made through the Tesla app, and Michigan residents can still take advantage of Tesla's mobile service program.

Originally published on May 8.
Update, May 10: Adds a statement from Tesla.