Tesla has an expansive charging network.Bryan Logan/Business Insider
- Tesla’s network of thousands of charging stations gives it a huge leg up on the competition, a Wall Street analyst said Tuesday.
- But, Adam Jonas of Morgan Stanley warns, the company’s retail and service infrastructure is going to need to keep pace with its vehicle sales.
- Tesla buyers have reported long waits for service and parts after receiving their vehicles from the company.
Tesla’s network of superchargers is now close to 12,000 — blowing other automaker’s electrical infrastructure out of the water.
Morgan Stanley estimates that Tesla alone could account for up to 40% of the US’ total charging outlets. That gives the company a huge “competitive moat” over other automakers, the bank said in a note to clients Tuesday.
“Growth in the charging footprint, while strong, is far slower than the growth in Tesla’s car population, which we estimate increase by 83% last year,” analyst Adam Jonas writes. “We calculate Tesla’s car fleet per supercharger increased to 45 by the end of 2018 vs. 33 at the end of 2017.”
But while the company has been successful in ramping production to get more cars on the road and increasing revenue, Tesla’s next pain point could be in servicing vehicles if and when they encounter problems.
“Tesla’s vehicle fleet has grown far faster than its physical store and service location network, raising investor concerns about strain on the system,” Jonas said.
On Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that many Tesla Model 3 buyers were facing long waits for service and parts, a pain point Tesla’s chief executive Elon Musk acknowledged on the company’s fourth-quarter earnings conference call. In one case, a Model 3 is still in the shop awaiting after an accident in September — nearly five months ago.
“I want to note that one of our major priorities this quarter is improving service operations,” Musk told analysts and investors on the call.
“So really, from my standpoint, when I think about what my priorities are this quarter, it’s improving service in North America. That’s #1. And I think that there are some very exciting initiatives that we’re going to roll out with regard to that,” he continued.
Jonas, who has an equal-weight rating for Tesla stock, says Tesla has significant room to improve on the service front, especially when it comes to mobile service centers. Tesla currently has 411 vans that can be dispatched to fix cars at owners’ homes.
The company estimates 80% of repairs can be done outside of its 85 service centers, according to the Wall Street Journal. And with more cars hitting the road every quarter, those vans may not be able to keep up.
For now, at least, it’s got its charging network to attract new customers.
“Part of the strategic attraction to Tesla is its physical infrastructure footprint,” Jonas said. “Which we believe, over time, can improve the customer experience, reduce friction points, and support the fleet management of many millions of Tesla vehicles on the road and in both captive and 3rd-party fleets.”