While the brand may still be the underdog darling of the automotive industry, Tesla is facing some tough times from a consumer PR perspective. Recently, the innovative electric car company was forced to recall 90,000 Model S sedans.
What’s wrong with the cars? Is there something amiss with the trendsetting tech? Nope. It’s just defective seatbelts. Check that, a “possible” defect that is leading the company to recall Model S sedans worldwide. That recall could have spelled very bad news for Tesla. Given all the recall drama created by other automakers, it’s not surprising that Tesla’s stock dropped after the announcement. What is surprising? It only fell two points.
Why? How could this automaker survive a recall scare when so many competitive brands are reeling months after their recalls were first announced?
First, the cost. Make no mistake, everything eventually comes down to money. This recall may make for a few tough headlines, but, cost wise, the company is barely breaking a sweat, calling the cost of the recall “immaterial”.
And that attitude is another check in their favor. When your competition is trying to hide simple defects and, in some cases, these issues have literally killed their customers, you get automatic PR points for a quick response.
Further, there have been no reported accidents or injuries related to the recall. This is a big one. Sure, recalls look bad in the news, but they look MUCH better than “Number of People Killed by …” headlines.
Another good thing? Simple mechanics. The fix is quick and easy. Basically, it will amount to a quick and convenient trip into the dealership. The service department will check out a bolt in the seatbelt assembly while the dealer has a chance to make nice with the customer. Properly handled at that point of contact, this issue could turn into a net positive for the automaker. In other words, if the dealer staff take good care of the owners, they could drive away with an even more positive feeling about the automaker.
Treat them right and they will care less about why they were there and talk more about the good experience they had at the dealer. If Tesla can manage that, their “immaterial” cost could yield priceless PR value.
Ronn Torossian is the CEO and Founder of NYC based PR company 5W Public Relations. 5W PR is headquartered in New York City and has offices in Denver and Los Angeles.