Dealers have something new to whine about

TeslaMondo has almost two decades of in-the-trenches experience at auto dealerships. You want to know what car customers are talking about on the sales floor? Ask TeslaMondo.

They’re starting to talk about Tesla, yes. But they’re also starting to ask about OTA updates. They’ve heard that Tesla owners receive constant improvements, and even safety patches, without having to take their cars in for service. It’s a natural extension of the technology in our pockets. Our phones receive updates. Our cars should naturally follow.

But, like everything else that’s natural, it’s totally alien to the rusty, crusty world of dealer franchise laws. Dealerships get paid goodly sums of money for performing recall work, even though the work increasingly involves mere software “reflashes.” Dealers bill the manufacturer an hour’s labor for tapping a scan tool for 20 seconds. Piece a cake! The foot traffic is nice, too. Some people who visit a dealer for a reflash end up reflashing the tires, or maybe even the whole darned car. This benefits the automakers too, of course.

This all adds up to a slow, creaky adoption of OTA technology. Tesla is forcing it along, however, by making everyone else look ridiculous. With every Tesla Autopilot update in the press, the Honda Pilots of the world look like PalmPilots. Automakers won’t abide looking Byzantine for much longer.

So here’s what TeslaMondo hopes will happen:

When automakers finally get their butts surgically removed from their couches and start implementing OTA technology, the dealers will start squawking about their interrupted gravy train. With any luck, this will become headline news right about the time Tesla Vs. Michigan gets underway. Dealers will look doubly ridiculous, for they’ll have to whine about both OTA technology and factory-direct sales. In other words, two staples of modern automobiledom as defined by the enemy in Silicon Valley.

What will the Tesla Vs. Michigan jury think of this? They’ll think Tesla is indeed evil and needs to be kicked out. Huh? Why? Because there isn’t a juror in Michigan who doesn’t have family in the legacy car business. Tesla needs a change of venue pronto.

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