Tesla's repair shops look more like design-savvy showrooms than garages. No oil stains spot the floor; no spare hoses or rims are heaped in corners.
That's because the mechanics who service the fashionable electric vehicles don't have to dirty their hands. Their main tools are computers.
It's likely the way of the future — and not just for Tesla.
Already, the demand for technicians qualified to service Tesla vehicles is especially strong in Florida, the state with the second-largest market for new and used Teslas, according to Edmunds.com, despite the car's starting price of $49,000.
The growing need led Tesla to launch the Tesla START training program at Miami Dade College. The 12-week certificate course, which will start in the fall, will be taught by professors trained by Tesla and follow a curriculum designed by the company. It's the first such program in the Southeastern United States and sixth in the country.
"Since Tesla is the leader in the sector, there is no other program exclusively for electric vehicles," said Antonio Delgado, dean of engineering, technology and design studies at Miami Dade College.
"The first thing the students get is a laptop, because everything is done with computers. It's not a physical job, but rather technological," Delgado said. The facility that will host the course is now under construction at the college's West Campus in Doral.
From the colors of the walls — its own brand colors — to the student uniforms, all elements of the program are designed by Tesla, Delgado explained.
Requirements for enrolling in the course include a high school diploma and a driver's license. Some knowledge of electronics is helpful.
"The key requirement is the motivation to spend three months dedicated 100 percent to learning. A brilliant future awaits," Delgado said.
Because the course requires full-time participation, students will be paid a stipend equivalent to the $8.46 per hour minimum salary in the county, plus $1 per hour, for a total of $9.46 per hour.
Up to 12 students will be selected by Tesla for the initial class. Future cohorts will be limited to 16 students, with three groups graduating each year.
All the students who pass the course will be offered a job with Tesla, Delgado said. Many will work in the Tesla service shops in Coral Gables and West Palm Beach, where they will also do practical training during the course.
Tesla statistics show that 75 percent of the students who start the course graduate. The company has not revealed salary figures, but Delgado said technicians who service Tesla vehicles can start at about $25 per hour.
Students who aren't selected for the first class can apply again for later courses.
The Tesla START program has graduated 125 students so far around the country.
For more information about the program and to enroll, go to www.mdc.edu/tesla or email email@example.com. The courses will be held at the Miami Dade College West Campus, 3800 NW 115 Ave. Doral, 33178.