The man who has found his place in life
Mikhail Yefimov, 45 y.o. Formerly employed by Internal Affairs Agency. An aviation engineer who has been fond of passenger cars since he was a child. Without assistance, he reassembled one of the first Tesla electric cars brought to Moscow. Since then, he has been a dedicated fan of passenger cars equipped with electric motors. He never stops delving into the structure of the popular American electric car and keeps a close watch on all the latest things and innovations in the segment. He stays in close touch with mechanical engineers from Tesla official service centers in the USA, the EU, and China.
Currently, there is an obvious tension between the Russian Federation, the European Union, and the USA. Imposed sanctions created a serious barrier to dynamic development of science and technology in the Russian Federation. In particular, Tesla electric cars that enjoy popularity all over the world have not been officially presented in Russia yet. Despite this, we have seen a high demand for modern electric cars among Moscow dwellers as well as citizens of other Russian big cities who are eager to buy one.
Electric car owners are experiencing immense difficulties in terms of maintenance and repair in the Russian Federation. Note that 250 electric cars are already being used in Russia. Over 70% of them are found on Moscow roads and streets. Only a few Superchargers operate within the metropolis. In addition, compact filling stations are being installed through the efforts of local companies.
The situation with spare parts and consumables is much worse. It is virtually impossible to get them. Lots of Tesla car owners are forced to go to the EU once in a while in order to get after-sales service.
In spite of a massive number of problems and a lack of information, Moscow mechanical engineers open service stations that specialize in working with Tesla so as to make lives of electric car lovers easier. These people are real heroes because they have practically nothing to rely on except for their own knowledge and enthusiasm.
Thanks to Moscow mechanical engineers who are in love with Tesla, electric car owners from Moscow promptly get most of common car problems solved without having to leave their city. It is recommended to go to the EU only in particularly complicated cases.
Mikhail Yefimov is giving an interview to us today. He is an experienced aviation engineer who devotes almost all his spare time to examining, maintaining, and repairing Tesla cars. He is the founder of one of the two service centers that provide maintenance for electric cars in Moscow.
— Nice to see you, Mikhail! Could you, please, tell us a bit about yourself: where you were born, where you grew up, and share some of your memories about your childhood and teenage years?
— Nice to see you, too. I’m a Muscovite by birth. I was born and grew up in the heart of the Russian capital. An ordinary Soviet kid. But I was lucky to grow up in a family that had a car. In those days, in our country there were few families that had a passenger car, even in Moscow. I was a small kid when my father made me eager to learn about construction of a car. He would take me along to his garage and show how to repair things. When I grew older, I started helping him a bit at a time. In the USSR most motorists serviced their vehicles themselves. Service stations didn’t use to be as common as today.
Later, when I went to a summer camp, I had already been an experienced and dedicated fan of passenger cars. Right in the camp, I received training, successfully passed an exam, and received a teenage driving license.
— Mikhail, in spite of your keen interest in automobiles, you entered an educational institution specializing in a slightly different area, didn’t you?
— Yes, I really did. Having left secondary school, I went to Kharkov planning to enter Kharkov Higher Military Command Engineering School. I passed exams and was enrolled on the Aviation Engineering course. I began my studies in the USSR, however, I became a graduate in independent Ukraine. Having received higher education, I worked in the aviation industry for a while and then went on to have a career in Internal Affairs bodies.
— Mikhail, so, your passion for passenger cars reminded you about itself after a while, didn’t it?
— Naturally. After retirement, I gradually started switching to work with passenger cars. I provided services related to repair and maintenance of vehicles made by popular foreign and Russian manufacturers.
— Can you tell us about your first encounter with Tesla, please?
When I laid my hands on the first electric car, I was fascinated. I had a strong desire to reassemble the car and examine its construction thoroughly. So to speak, I wanted to know it inside out, which I actually did quite successfully.
Of course, there were certain difficulties. Tesla still has no official representative in Russia. A couple of years ago, no information was available at all. I had to spend hours on specialized Internet forums and talk to foreign engineers and other specialists. It took time to get an objective and professional idea of how and what this popular electric car is constructed of.
— Where did your passion for Tesla cars bring you?
— After a while, I decided to provide maintenance and repair works professionally. Naturally, there are some components such as a battery that I choose not to get involved with. Otherwise, the guarantee will become void. But Tesla's other features, mostly, are very similar to a standard passenger car, so I and my assistants are ready to help any electric car owner having a trouble. We are currently putting the finishing touches to a new Tesla service center before opening it. It will be the second service station of the kind in Moscow.
— What is your position? How many people does the company employ?
— I act as the founder and deal with organizational and financial matters. I advise leading specialists on work with electric cars. In my team, there are seven top-class mechanical engineers with extensive hands-on experience.
— What’s your motto in terms of your work with electric cars?
— Do not harm. It’s the main credo. We’ve been interacting with accredited Tesla maintenance companies from China, the USA, and the EU for a long time. We have a complete picture of how work in an official service center is organized. We do our best to help Russian electric car owners but under no circumstances do we violate any warranty terms and conditions. With no support from the legal manufacturer, it is often cheaper to take cars to German service centers rather than repair them in Moscow.
— Do you think you have already managed to succeed in the car maintenance and repair sector?
— Surely. I and specialists hired by me have earned a good reputation over the years.
Every Tesla owner in Moscow knows that they may come to our service center and get their problems solved. We never lie to our customers and always try to service their cars as if these cars are our own ones. In a nutshell, we strive to provide a service of a western standard. Apart from individuals fond of electric car, lots of law firms may be found among our customers. They entrust us with servicing their car fleets.
— Do you have any suggestions to offer Tesla Company management in terms of improving electric cars?
— I don’t mean to offend anyone but the first thing that caught my eye is the quality of the assembly work. The car concept is extremely well thought through. When operating a Tesla car, you get loads of pleasant impressions and positive emotions. But, as a mechanic, I can’t help but highlight the fact that electric cars aren’t assembled as well as I’d like them to be. Tesla level implies that the car is expected to be perfect in every way. Tesla assembly work hasn’t lived up to my expectations.
— How do electric cars “live through” severe Russian winters?
— You know, I haven’t noticed any particular problems in operation of Tesla cars at low temperatures. I’ve been repairing and servicing electric cars almost since the moment they were launched. I can assure you that they are perfectly suited for Moscow winters.
— Does your repair shop have any rivals? What’s your competitive advantage over them?
— Our service center has hardly any actual rivals for the time being. Apart from our company, there is one more similar service station in Moscow. If the number of specialized service stations increases, I’m not going to change my plans. I prefer healthy competition in the market when priority is given to the quality of service rather than its price. With such an approach, it is interesting and profitable to work under any conditions.
— Are there any other electric cars in Moscow? Is Tesla facing considerable competition from them?
— As far as I know, Tesla has no direct competitors for the time being, neither in Russia, nor in any other countries. But it is not going to last long. I believe that the American car maker has to hurry if it wants to corner the Russian market. If Tesla fails to do this, in the next 2-3 years a vacant niche will be filled by its closest competitor from Taiwan – Thunder Power. Performance specifications stated for the Thunder Power prototype are impressive. Moreover, its price is going to be significantly lower, in the best Chinese traditions.
— Why do Moscow dwellers buy Tesla cars today? Could you, please, make a rough sketch of a Russian buyer that chooses to purchase an electric car?
— Primarily, these are people who have deep pockets. But they stand out considerably even among successful entrepreneurs. First and foremost, Tesla buyers are people who think progressively, in a European way, if you like. As a rule, they are IT workers who care about their life as well as about their kids’ future life and the future of our planet. Environmental conservation is not empty talk for such people. That is why they buy electric cars. A high level of comfort is also among main reasons why people choose to buy electric cars. People's perception of passenger cars changes completely when they drive Tesla cars. For the better. The change of perception is also a powerful motivation for buying a Tesla car.
— Which Tesla models are the most popular with Moscow dwellers?
— People living in the Russian capital city are mostly conservative. This feature is reflected even in “advanced” buyers of electric cars. The majority of buyers prefer Tesla P85+ design which has stood the test of time, yet, they quite enjoy buying other models as well.
— Can Tesla become the car that will supersede petrol- and diesel-powered cars in the Russian Federation in the long term?
— I believe that this question must be answered from a global perspective without being confined to one particular country. It will take rather a long time for permanent and complete replacement to take place. It may never occur at all. However, we are sure to see an active shift towards the use of electric motors. In future, the amount of petrol and diesel fuel used will decrease considerably due to vast numbers of electric motors or vehicles with hybrid power units under their boots. This tendency is bound to be seen in Russia as well.
— What are your plans in terms of further development of your Tesla maintenance business in the Russian Federation?
— My plans depend on plans made by Tesla official manufacturer. Provided that Tesla official representation office is opened in Moscow, car dealerships are set up, and Russians start buying as many electric cars as they’d like to, I will certainly be ready to expand my business and build up the network of service centers.
— Mikhail, how do you feel about immigration?
— I believe that, first of all, you must find yourself and your niche in this life. If you succeed in doing this, a possible relocation will not have any serious negative implications. If you ask me, doing the washing-up in New York is as unpleasant as it is in Moscow.
— Do you think you could start a network of service centers providing maintenance for Tesla cars in, say, the USA?
— Surely. I’m convinced that rules of providing top class services are the same on all the continents. Plus, if apart from having the right approach to your customers you do what you love and know the ropes, you are bound to succeed.
— Mikhail, thank you so much for such an interesting conversation. Good luck in your challenging job. Hope that Tesla official representation office will open in Russia soon.
— Thank you. Best of luck to you, too.
Mikhail Yefimov is a mechanical engineer with exceptional talent. That day when Tesla Company decides to open its official representation office in Moscow, such people like Mikhail will be the ones who will lay the foundations for organizing top class customer service for Moscow buyers of electric cars. Such a highly skilled specialist is sure to be needed in the Russian Federation as well as in any other country of the world where modern electric cars are going up and down the roads.