Rich Benoit of Massachusetts is a tinkerer of sorts. He is also a proponent of "right to repair." He thinks — and we agree — that automakers shouldn't be allowed to purposely prevent customers from repairing their own vehicles. Tesla doesn't love that, so Benoit scavenges Teslas.
A Boston IT worker by day, Benoit was looking to buy a Model S electric sedan but thought the prices were way too high. So he kept digging.
"I came across one on the internet, but they said it was in a flood. I thought, ‘How hard can this be? You throw it in a bag of rice,'" Benoit told Motherboard, Vice's tech-focused site.
Massachusetts has the country's only "right to repair" law, meaning auto dealers are required to sell parts to independent dealers. But since Tesla doesn't really have dealerships in the traditional sense, Benoit has had to find his own stuff from junkyards and flood- and fire-damaged cars.
“If you drive around, you’ll see a place that only fixes only Saabs, or they fix only Volvo,” Benoit told Motherboard. “Places like that are so important. You have to have these little mom and pop shops that know these cars well, that’ll fix it for a decent price, so that the manufacturer can’t monopolize the repair.”
Benoit now has a Facebook group and is the go-to guy for people looking to buy, sell, trade and fix Tesla parts. He has friends and customers as far away as Norway, Germany and South Africa.
Tesla, for its part, told Motherboard that "it will inspect salvaged vehicles to assess which repairs are needed" and that "the repair of salvaged vehicles by unqualified mechanics could be dangerous to the mechanic and to other drivers on the road."
Benoit has a bunch of videos on his YouTube channel, Rich Rebuilds, including the one at the top, part 2 directly above, 3 and 4. So if you're looking for parts or advice, and you're in his neck of the woods — heck, even if you're not — he might be the guy to contact. And if you have a wrecked Tesla to sell, definitely let him know.
"I want people to have their cars work," says Benoit. "I want people to enjoy 'em. I just want to help!"
Check out Motherboard's short documentary here and Benoit's YouTube channel here.