Fobbed Off! Comparing Tesla and Electric Mini Service Costs

Tesla Model S and electric Mini Cooper SE key fobs

Picture this: You’re standing at your dining table, staring at two sets of car keys—one for a Mini Cooper SE, a zippy little electric car, and the other for a Tesla Model S, the electric behemoth.

Both key fobs are cactus. One took a dive in my teenager’s board shorts; the other became a chew toy for Turbo, the family dog.

Turbo (top dog)

Tesla vs Mini: A Showdown In Customer Service And Cost

You’d think Tesla, known for their premium prices, would charge an arm and a leg to replace their fob compared to the Mini, right? Hold onto your hats because Tesla didn’t just beat Mini on price; their customer service experience left Mini eating dust.

The Mini Saga: Unnecessary Services And Hefty Bills

The Mini Cooper SE insists on a ‘service’ every 12 months. It’s an electric car, so what’s there to service? Not much, but BMW still lured me to their Adelaide service centre.

And the cost? A cool $105 for the vehicle check, another $35 labour and $118.64 parts for a ‘microfilter service,’ and a couple more line items that’ll make you wonder if they also polished each individual air molecule in the cabin. All up, they’re just looking for excuses to swipe your card.

After a day’s work, I trudged back to BMW Adelaide and forked out $394.50. And the key fob? Another jaw-dropping $673.60, with another trip to pick it up.

Electric mini key fob cost

Tesla’s Smooth Sailing

Tesla has never summoned me for a service. If there’s an issue, they sort it—no song and dance. To replace the key fob, I tapped ‘Request Service’ on the Tesla app.

Tesla app service request

A few days later, a technician showed up in my driveway and handed me a bill for $218.18. No fuss, no extra trips.

Tesla Model S key fob cost

In this showdown, Tesla not only saved my wallet but also saved me time – an even more precious resource.

The Final Tally: EV Ownership Costs vs Customer Experience

Look, I get it. This is just one bloke’s experience in Adelaide, but when Tesla gets it right, they’re excellent.

They’ve not only embraced a future with electric vehicles, but modernised the entire customer experience to match. No needless trips, no upselling services you don’t need – just straightforward, honest service at a reasonable price; all through their app.

How long will people put up with overpriced ‘EV services’ from legacy automakers such as BMW? As electric vehicles become more mainstream, the old guard needs to rethink not just their tech but their customer service ethos.

About Finn Peacock

I'm a Chartered Electrical Engineer, Solar and Energy Efficiency nut, dad, and the founder and CEO of SolarQuotes.com.au. I started SolarQuotes in 2009 and the SolarQuotes blog in 2013 with the belief that it’s more important to be truthful and objective than popular. My last "real job" was working for the CSIRO in their renewable energy division. Since 2009, I’ve helped over 700,000 Aussies get quotes for solar from installers I trust. Read my full bio.

Comments

  1. Looks like you’ve discovered another part of ‘the magic of Tesla’. They’ve not only completely reimagined what a car is, but they’ve revolutionised how it’s manufactured and eliminated anything between the customer and the manufacturer. It’s always worth remembering that Tesla is a technology company that makes cars (amongst other things), not a car company that uses technology.

    P.S. they’ve also eliminated the need for car keys now!

  2. Why am I not surprised!

    Tesla parts are surprisingly affordable more often than not.
    My son compared a shopping basket of similar parts for his Hyundai i30 and for his Tesla, and for every common part that he checked including various trim pieces, other bits like electric window switches, cabin filters AND many more, the Tesla was actually anything from a little to very dramatically cheaper.

    As for my four year old Model 3, the maintenance “tally” is as follows:
    Two very minor warranty trim issues were fixed in my garage at a time that suited me, by mobile service.
    I also recently logged another slight problem I had occasionally with the rear aircon temp going awry. Tesla service then got in touch and said the problem had been logged in their system, but said it was very likely fixed with a recent over the air software update. They suggested I hold off a month or two for the warmer weather to determine if the issue still existed, and so far it does indeed appear to be fine.

    That’s it! I literally haven’t spent a cent on maintaining the car in four years, though to be fair I’ve rotated the tyres F to R twice myself, and also replaced the cabin filters myself. As expected brake wear is still absolutely negligible. I was going to flush the brake fluid as a precaution last week but it still tests perfect for moisture (brake fluid is hygroscopic) so might hold off on that for another year.

  3. David Simpson says

    I’ve had my base Model 3 for 1.75 years and 30,000K. Total service costs approx. $140 Tyre rotation ($60) – they came and did it – and two wiper blades ($80).
    Thanks for the article – this is something that is not mentioned enough.

  4. Declan Power says

    It seems Tesla service and parts prices are very good.

    However, what do I do here in Port Macquarie? Can they provide service here? Hyundai, Kia, VW, Toyota, Lexus, Skoda etc have dealers here so even if they are a expensive, even a ripoff, at least I can get service when required.

    • George Kaplan says

      An interesting point. If you don’t live in a capital city, which is true for something like a quarter of all Australians, then where do you go for service?

      And somewhat unrelated, am I correct in understanding that a Tesla 3’s boot is actually 38% larger than that of a Toyota Corolla, if perhaps less user friendly?

      • Matt Franke says

        Also interested in the answer to this one, looking to pull the trigger on a Tesla Model Y but I live in Central QLD; a good 700+ kilometres from the closest Service Centre in Brisbane! Do I have to have a road trip every time? Would they even have a mobile technician in my area? I guess we will find out when I buy it….

  5. Valdis Dunis says

    That is a truly incredible difference in style of handling the problem, as well as the costs. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  6. Fair go, Finn.

    No matter how great a Tesla fan you are, if you are going to do a comparison (on one, let’s face it, relatively trivial issue), is it fair to compare one of the absolutely cheapest EVs, to one that was around two-and-a-half times the price.

    And no mention of the highlights over the years: your Tesla charging owners around #2,000 for a replacement headlight (Google it). Or cases where original owners have paid for added features, but after they have sold the vehicle (with the new owner presumably anticipating those added features to be not disabled), the feature being remotely removed, with the new owner being expected to pay again for the “extra”. (Check out Mister Google again.)

    No doubt the Tesla is a great car, but in all fairness it is probably a good idea to keep the rose-tinted glasses in check and not seize on one minor issue (even though there are quite possibly many other pluses with that car). Although, in all fairness, in most cases, the more expensive any car, the more likely you are to be treated as a mug by the manufacturer come service time, not the other way around. e.g. around a grand for a GPS update on some of the swankier ICE marques.

    • Finn Peacock says

      I happen to own a mini and a tesla, and managed to destroy both key fobs. I thought the comparison in experience of getting them replaced was interesting, and other people might find it interesting too. Sorry you didn’t.

  7. Declan Power says

    Greg, you make some valid points particularly regarding the cost of a single item as a means of comparison. Mind you, the key cost for the mini is within the general range of what most cars’ keys cost and some cost a lot more and require replacement of locks and dealer coding. And a headlight cost of $2000 is nothing unusual sadly these days. Headlight assemblies are now a fairly sophisticated and complex assembly.

    The cost of replacement parts can now be a fairly frightening thing.

  8. Tony Freeman says

    The difference with Tesla service is that you are not dealing with a middleman putting their extra margin on. Re keyfob prices, there are plenty of aftermarket businesses that come to you and supply a new keyfob correctly paired to your vehicle for around $200. A friend of mine just had their BMW X5 one replaced recently.

    • Tony – that isn’t necessarily the case. It depends on the car and its age.

      It is harder to get replacement aftermarket keys for later model cars. And with some vehicles the aftermarket businesses cannot do the coding required to get the keys to work, particularly if you do not have the access code for the security system or if you do not already have another fully coded key.

  9. Johann Schröder says

    It’s not the Mini’s fault. BMW is just living up to their reputation for gouging.

    Can’t wait for the electric Mini Countryman I saw in Madrid to get here, so I can drool all over it

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