Getting a Tesla Model S for just $50,000 is a steal, but when it's a salvage title car and was written off as totaled by an insurance company, the bargain might not be worth the headache. That's what a San Diego man is learning now that he's having trouble getting his fancy but damaged electric vehicle to work.
Peter Rutman has spent $8,000 in repairs for his EV, but there's one important bit of help he still needs: official activation from Tesla. Rutman is steaming mad at Tesla, telling San Diego 6 that, "Tesla has created a situation where there is nowhere to go. They've blocked every avenue." Tesla has a different version of the story, of course, and says that they're happy to look at the car (and certify it to run if it's in good shape), but said in a statement to AutoblogGreen that Rutman isn't willing to sign a waiver to let Tesla's mechanics get at the car.
Tesla has a different version of the story, of course.
"We have strong concerns about this car being safe for the road, but we have been prevented from inspecting the vehicle because Mr. Rutman refused to sign an inspection authorization form. That form clearly states that in order for us to support the vehicle on an ongoing basis, we need to ensure the repairs meet minimum safety standards," the company said. You can read the full statement below.
San Diego 6 says that one of the problems is Tesla's direct-sales model, which means that there's only one place for a customer like Rutman to go for assistance: the company itself. Right now, Rutman says, a Tesla-certified mechanic has to trigger some switch before the car will charge. And that can't happen until he signs the aforementioned authorization form.
Rutman told the local TV station (video also below) that, "The document they wanted me to sign didn't indicate they were going to do any repairs to the car, or get it up and running. They can take the car. They can keep it. They can do whatever they want with it." Tesla says this isn't true, and also denies there is any sort of black list in effect.
Safety is Tesla's top priority and it is a principle on which we refuse to compromise under any circumstance. Mr. Rutman purchased a vehicle on the salvage market that had been substantially damaged in a serious accident. We have strong concerns about this car being safe for the road, but we have been prevented from inspecting the vehicle because Mr. Rutman refused to sign an inspection authorization form. That form clearly states that in order for us to support the vehicle on an ongoing basis, we need to ensure the repairs meet minimum safety standards.
Regardless of whether or not the car passed inspection, Mr. Rutman would have been free to decide where to conduct any additional repairs and to leave with his vehicle. There was never any threat to take away his vehicle at the inspection or any time thereafter and there is nothing in the authorization form that states or implies that we would do so.
Additionally, Mr. Rutman opted to have his vehicle repaired by a non-Tesla affiliated facility. We work with a network of authorized independent repair facilities to ensure our safety standards are met. It is also worth noting that Mr. Rutman is not on any "blacklist" for purchasing Tesla parts. While we do sell certain parts over the counter, we do not sell any parts that require specific training to install. This is a policy that is common among automakers and it is in place to protect customers from the risk of repairs not meeting our safety standards.