The one guy who has more to fear from Tesla than anyone else says he's not afraid at all

Rich BenoitRich Benoit, taking apart a Tesla battery.YouTube

  • Tesla has mandated that it alone can fix its cars, but one Massachusetts man doesn't care about that.
  • He buys salvaged Teslas and fixes them on his YouTube show, Rich Rebuilds.
  • Business Insider interviewed him about why he's not afraid of the company going after him for our podcast 'Household Name.'

Only Tesla can fix a broken Tesla. But Rich Benoit does not care about that.

From his home in Massachusetts he fixes any Tesla "donor car" he can buy and switches bad parts for good ones. He does this even if the car has been flooded with water, even if it's mangled from an accident, even if it " looks like it rolled over 55 times."

Even it's shaped like "rhombus."

"Jesus Christ," he said in a recent episode of Business Insider's podcast 'Household Name.' "This is what $18,000 plus shipping looks like. The car is shaped like a rhombus. Seats are destroyed."

Benoit publishes his work on YouTube, and his show is called 'Rich Rebuilds." Thanks to his work he's become something of a cult hero in the world of cars, and even inside Tesla.

Among the engineers who have painstakingly designed and manufactured the electric cars, he has become a symbol of what they are (car nerds who love to tinker) and what the company can be (something that survives beyond them.)

"I think what he's doing is what's going to keep us alive," said one Tesla engineer who requested anonymity to be interviewed on the podcast. "I think what Rich is doing is important for Tesla... I don't think it's dangerous for Tesla at all... I think if we stopped him, it would be a really big mistake."

Benoit thinks he's found a loophole that will let him continue to do his work without has tle - a Massachusettes law that gives people the "right to repair" their own property, and forces manufacturers to give them access to tools and diagnostic software to do so.

But Benoit has asked Tesla for help, and the company hasn declined. And the company has found ways to skirt around the law. It says the customers should have access to the same tools their dealers have, but Tesla is a direct to consumer company. It has no dealerships.

"That loophole is interesting because in Massachusetts Tesla actually did publish some repair manuals, but they're not very well written and they take you to tell you how to take things apart, which was great," Benoit said. "But the major thing that we're looking for is the diagnostic software to fix it.

"So if you repair a car that's one thing but you want to be able to troubleshoot issues with it. And that's the other thing you don't give you access to you can sign up for an account and you could try to sign into that account, but they won't give you access to the software unless you're a Tesla authorized repair shop. So loophole... after loophole…. after loophole."

Benoit says he loves and admires Tesla, and for right now the two sides are at a stalemate. Benoit is on his own, and inside Tesla there is a sense that what helps more than it helps - for now.

Hear the full episode here: 


If you are a Tesla employee or customer who has a story to share about a car or experience with the company, give me a shout at llopez@businessinsider.com.

 

Get the latest Tesla stock price here.

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