Tesla launches charm offensive in bid to fend off aggressive rivals

Tesla is launching a charm offensive to woo back European leasing companies after repeated retail price cuts devalued their fleets.

According to a Reuters report which interviewed executives from major leasing firms and corporate fleet managers, the shift in attitude comes after years of perceived indifference by the direct-to-consumer Tesla towards their corporate customers.

Fleet clients hold significant importance within the industry, particularly in Europe where companies frequently opt to lease fleets of vehicles for their employees due to the generous tax incentives on offer.

Research conducted by Dataforce reveals that those companies accounted for 44% of Tesla’s sales in the UK and 15 EU nations last year.

Richard Knubben, director general of Leaseurope, told Reuters that Tesla is offering discounts to compensate, although he suspected that it may not be enough to offset rapidly falling residual values on which leasing companies rely.

Tesla’s presence in the United Kingdom has surged dramatically over the past 18 months, with the EV manufacturer now boasting a fleet of more than 200,000 vehicles on UK roads. But it faces increasing competition with the emergence of newcomer EV brands, especially from China.

In addition to offering significant albeit unoffical price cuts to fleet operators, Tesla is now understood to be reviewing the user experience of its business platform based on their feedback with plans to integrate a new service status feature.

The goal is to create a fully functional portal with complete visibility for fleet managers and leasing partners with Tesla committing to identify areas for improvement.

It is also expanding its roadside assistance and service centre operations to seven days a week after criticism was levelled at the speed of servicing Tesla models. Additionally, a new trial for mobile tyre replacement services is being launched in select regions, with plans for nationwide expansion if successful.

Tesla’s infrastructure growth in the UK includes ambitious plans for 25 new retail locations across the UK and Northern Ireland.

To make EVs more affordable and accessible, Tesla is also launching a certified pre-owned (CPO) programme to include vehicles of up to 90,000 miles.

Tesla is confident that its battery health data which shows a retention rate above 90% even at 120,000 miles, will make its 8-year, 120,000-mile warranty a success.

Tesla is further planning to support independent retailers through a service portal for refurbishing and reselling Tesla vehicles.

The company also aims to double its charging infrastructure. New sites in Bournemouth, mid Wales, Middlesbrough and Newcastle are in development to improve capacity and availability.

In urban areas, particularly those with limited off-street parking, Tesla is building larger charging hubs, such as adding 100 more stalls in the Birmingham area. Over the next 12 months, Tesla aims to open 1,000 new stalls, with a shift towards sites offering 20-30 stalls.

With over 11,000 charging points currently available, Tesla is introducing its v4 Superchargers, featuring longer cables and a new payment interface for non-Tesla EVs.

To manage and optimise charging locations, Tesla will leverage EVgo software tools, providing features such as trip planning and congestion forecasting with the Automated Trip Control (ATC) system guiding drivers to the most efficient chargers and providing real-time bay availability and pricing information.

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