Editor’s note: I-CAR raised a concern about our use of quotes from a more general discussion of its welding program in relation to the topic of its welding relationship with Tesla. The article has since been updated to reflect I-CAR’s answers to questions specifically about the welding testing it will oversee for the OEM.
It’s the million-dollar question about Tesla’s announcement it would cease testing certified auto body shops itself and instead delegate the welding exams to I-CAR:
Will that testing take the form of I-CAR’s in-house three-part welding series, or what some shops told us was more rigorous Jaguar Land Rover coursework administered by I-CAR on that OEM’s behalf?
The answer could determine which standard of welding Tesla owners — and not just Model 3 drivers, but potentially Roadster, Model S and Model X owners as well — might receive on their vehicles as well as how easily auto body shops can qualify for the Tesla body shop network. Only Tesla certified repairers can receive structural parts for collision repairs.
Of course, it’s also possible OEM might want one level of auto body repair competency for the mass-market Model 3 and a higher standard for the higher-end Model S, X and Roadster.
At this point, it’s all up in the air. Tesla did not respond to inquiries, and I-CAR on May 1 declined to comment and referred us back to Tesla.
“I-CAR does not have any comment on the Tesla internal announcement at this time,” an I-CAR spokeswoman wrote in an email. “It may be in your best interest to contact Tesla again for further information.”
Tesla informed its certified collision repairers in April that it would replace its in-house training and welding requirements for curriculum held online and administered by I-CAR, respectively.
“Building on the past 5 years of experience, we have been able to evaluate and dramatically simplify training, and will no longer require instructor led, onsite training,” Tesla wrote in an email to its certified shops. “We have developed online training as a more time and cost effective way to train your technicians to be approved for Tesla repairs. Online training offers many benefits not possible solely with instructor led training, such as unlimited reviewing of procedures, more frequent class offerings and updates for the network, and less time to train our whole technician population vs cycling everyone through constrained class rooms. Cost to you is greatly reduced, as weeks of lost production and travel expenses are eliminated as well. …
“Structural technicians will no longer have to travel to Tesla for onsite weld training and recertification. We have created an arrangement with ICAR to achieve the necessary qualification, without the expense of lost production and travel previously required.”
I-CAR offers three welding certification tests, “Steel MIG Welding” (WCS03), “Steel Sectioning” (SPS05) and “Aluminum MIG Welding” (WCA03), all held on-site at the shop for which the welder being tested works. It also administers Jaguar Land Rover’s certification program, requiring travel to I-CAR’s Appleton, Wis., facility for instruction by teachers who’ve traveled to Europe to be trained themselves.
Download a copy of the email here