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EV Mechanics in Big Demand

Rich Benoit runs the popular YouTube channel, Rich Rebuilds, where he takes broken-down Teslas and brings them back to life. Now he and his business partner, a former parts manager at Tesla, are opening up a repair shop to help stem some of the demand for Tesla service.

Tesla customers have often complained about having to wait weeks to get their cars serviced. Benoit has been enchanted with Tesla since it introduced the Model S. He turned his curiosity into YouTube fame in 2016, cranking out videos about the cars, including how to buy, fix and mine wrecked Teslas for spare parts.

Today, his YouTube channel "Rich Rebuilds" is approaching half-a-million subscribers. The most popular episode—"Can you drown a Tesla motor?" -- has garnered 2.3 million views and counting in less than a year. His followers frequently send payments to support his video blogging habit, and random items for his cars, home and garage. Someone sent him a life-sized poster of Elon Musk. Someone had pizza delivered to his house, which Benoit liked. On the weirder side of viral video stardom, a fan sent Benoit a puppy preserved in formaldehyde in a jar. Eventually, he partnered with a former Tesla parts manager, Chris Salvo, who is also the owner of EV Tuning to open up their own repair shop. While they both hold down day jobs, this spring they broke ground on their "Electrified Garage" in Seabrook, New Hampshire. "I was never thinking of opening my own shop," Benoit said. "But I'd been denied so many times by Tesla that I really started thinking there's got to be a bigger picture here, another player who can help others and get parts as well. Now that there's a place where people can go for third-party EV repair."

The Electrified Garage is getting customers who are out of warranty with their Model S's, and people who own Model 3's but can't get Tesla service centers to do work for them because they have after-market parts that negated their warranty Benoit said. While CEO Elon Musk has long promised to ramp up the company's service in North America, Tesla is currently in a belt-tightening phase, recovering from mass layoffs and still under pressure to cut costs. Until they're ready to invest in opening more service centers, hiring more technicians and mobile service "Rangers" – who drive to the customers' door to fix their cars – there are upstarts like the Electrified Garage ready to repair, modify or rebuild.

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