Tesla's stores and charging stations have distinguished the electric-car maker from its competitors, who outsource sales to third-party dealerships and have not yet built an electric-vehicle charging network that rivals Tesla's. Those bets have made Tesla's customers happy, according to a survey by Bloomberg of almost 5,000 Model 3 sedan owners.
Three-quarters of respondents said they were very satisfied with the process of buying their vehicle from Tesla, relative to the process of buying from a traditional dealership. And over 60% of respondents said they were very satisfied with the availability, price, and speed of Tesla's Supercharger stations.
Vertical integration is expensive, especially for a company without the vast cash reserves held by traditional automakers. But Tesla has sought to control as many parts of the customer experience as possible, betting that it can perform many functions better than the companies it would otherwise rely on to handle areas like sales, service, and fueling stations.
Tesla's history of losing money illustrates the difficulty of starting several different lines of business before any have become consistently profitable, but Bloomberg's survey indicates that Tesla's sales and charging-station businesses have had a positive impact on customer satisfaction.
Tesla's stores received a score of 4.34 points out of 5 from survey respondents, with North American customers giving a higher rating (4.39) than European and Asian customers (3.95).
Between three metrics (availability, affordability, and speed), Tesla's Supercharger stations received an average score of 4.52, though customers who relied primarily on Supercharger stations for their charging needs (rather than charging at home or work) gave their Model 3 a "charging convenience" score of 3.91, relative to the ease of refueling a gas-powered car.
The speed and availability of charging stations is one of the biggest obstacles preventing wider adoption of electric vehicles. Electric-vehicle owners with a garage can charge at home, but long trips often require a charge away from home. While the number of charging stations is growing, there are about 21,000 in the US now, compared with more than 120,000 gas stations. Tesla has more than 1,600 Supercharger stations worldwide, according to its website.
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