Once pro-Tesla auto dealer defects

January 18, 2023

UpAuto President/Chief Executive Officer Michael Carmichael

A Canadian automotive dealer who bought Tesla cars to embark on the electric vehicle adoption and understand how the technology will impact his internal combustion engine life as a retailer has decided he will no longer buy any of the manufacturer’s cars.

UpAuto President/Chief Executive Officer Michael Carmichael, who retails Honda, Buick GMC, Nissan, Subaru and Volkswagen at five locations in southwestern Ontario, had purchased two Tesla cars and regularly posted on LinkedIn about his positive experiences. However, he has decided he will not be buying them anymore because of “multiple frustrations with the product and customer experience.” 

Carmichael, whose company just acquired Easthill Volkswagen in Walkerton, said in October 2019 he bought a Tesla 2020 Model 3 Performance. He considered it a “perfect” car and wanted to learn more about EVs. After two years, he gave the car to his Chief Financial Officer so he could learn about an EV because he had never owned one.

“I want all my people to drive them so they can understand what it’s like to feel range anxiety, to plug-in at night, to get comfortable with the app,” Carmichael told Canadian auto dealer. “In the world of demos or just driving used cars, you can drive an EV for 10 minutes, but you won’t know what it’s like until you’ve driven one for six months.”  

He said he acquired a Model S Plaid in November 2021, which he subsequently determined was “not a perfect car” and has “defected” from buying further Tesla cars. He has decided to sell the car.

He recommended dealers buy an EV to add to their inventory and learn about them.

“With a Tesla it’s as much about the app as the car, so you need to go through a service experience, software updates, etc.,” he said. “As a car dealer, it is critical to drive what you sell and I have gone back to that, not due to relegation but proudly due to choice.”

He is now driving a 2023 GMC Yukon Denali Ultimate, which has all the key features he used frequently in the Tesla minus the EV aspect.

Carmichael, a fourth-generation dealer, also said he has a problem with Tesla’s method of introducing potential customers to its products with a showroom that has representatives providing knowledge about the vehicles but they don’t sell them. Buyers purchase online choosing models and specific features.

“I will say the lack of a dealer in the Tesla experience was noticeable,” said Carmichael. “It’s not about controlling the sale or distribution through a dealer network. It’s about having someone who owns or is at least in charge of the brand experience between purchase and repair.”

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