I have a Tesla model S so I know a thing or two about not dealing with dealerships.
As for safety recalls, the Tesla recall involved an over-the-air software update for one, and mailing out a new NEMA 14-50 adapter for the other. In neither case did I have to go to the Tesla service center. They later added a titanium shield to better protect the battery but there is no urgent need to bring the car in to have it installed and it can be installed in a matter of minutes.
As far as maintenance, there's also many things electric cars don't have. They are extremely simple mechanically, with vastly fewer moving parts. There are only about a dozen moving parts in the entire drivetrain, including the electric motor.Dealers will lose a lot of money on service because there are far fewer things to break or the parts are more reliable due to being fully electric.
While the tires and suspension are the same, most other things are not and service makes most of its money off of the big periodic service changes at 30, 60, 90 and 120K miles where things like timing belts are replaced and other big maintenance items. It should be far more reliable and there's far less maintenance to perform with an EV.
1. Brakes on electric cars will last far longer since most braking will be regenerative. On my Tesla I use the brake pedal far less than with any other car I've driven.
2. No oil changes or oil filters
3. No belts to change
4. No spark plugs
5. No complex transmission. No clutch, torque converter, transmission fluid, radiator, etc. No transmission fluid or filters to change.
6. No engine air filters
7. Much lower chance of an oil leak since there are far fewer components that need oil.
8. Air conditioning system is completely sealed, no compressor/clutch mounted to the engine block and required flexible hoses. Much lower risk of it leaking or the compressor failing.
9. No oxygen sensors, exhaust systems, catalytic converters or smog equipment
10. No valves, camshafts, piston rings, timing belts or chains
11. No spark plugs, distributors, ignition coils and associated hardware
12. No throttle body, mass airflow sensors, etc.
13. No fuel injectors, fuel pump or fuel filter, no fuel tank, charcoal canister.
14. No belt-driven alternator with brushes to wear out
15. No starter motor and solenoid to wear out
16. No hydraulic power steering pump or fluid (though many cars are now moving to electric power steering).
Instead, my Model S has:
1. water-cooled induction motor. The induction motor contains no permanent magnets or brushes, simplifying assembly/disassembly if it should ever have to be done. There are no friction points other than the bearings on each end of the shaft and those are sealed and lubricated for 12 years. The 416HP 443 ft-lb torque motor is the size of a watermelon, far smaller than any ICE engine of comparable power. An induction motor is stupidly simple in design and should last forever.
2. water-cooled inverter for driving the electric motor. Again, these tend to be extremely reliable with no moving parts.
3. water-cooled charging inverter(s) under the rear seats, easily accessible. Again, these should be extremely reliable.
4. water-cooled/heated battery pack, hot swappable and easily accessible. Again, this should last a long time. Warranty is for 8 years, unlimited miles for 85KWh battery. In the case of the Nissan Leaf they are having a lot of issues in hot climates because of the lack of proper battery cooling support, other car manufacturers are not having issues. Even at 50,000 miles people are finding the loss of range to be fairly minimal.
5. single speed 9.73:1 gear reduction transmission between the motor and differential consisting of only two gears internally. Part of the same module that holds the inverter and electric motor. This is as opposed to the many mechanical and hydraulic parts in a typical transmission.
6. heat pump system with a sealed compressor with sealed tubes, no flexible hoses carrying freon. This is a more complex since it also interacts with the water coolant loop. The cooling needed for the electric motor and inverter is much less than is needed for a gasoline engine due to much higher efficiency. The sealed electric compressor is a lot more reliable since there's no seals to leak or clutch to fail. It's more like a compressor on a home air conditioner or refrigerator which tend to last an extremely long time.
7. Electric power steering, easily accessible for repair if needed.
8. A heavy duty power connector for charging. If it needs to be repaired it is easily accessible to replace.
My Tesla is also far easier to work on if it needs it than an ICE car. Everything is readily accessible since there's no big engine and transmission in the way. The electric power steering, heat pump compressor, etc. can be accessed just by removing a single panel under the car and/or removing the plastic bin for the frunk under the hood. The entire drive train can be replaced in a matter of a few hours since it's a single module with the differential, gear reduction, electric motor and inverter. (they install it in under 5 minutes at the factory (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?... )).
The suggested service interval is 12,000 miles or 12 months. Most of it involves inspections. They top up the washer fluid, replace the windshield wiper blades and cabin air filter, rotate the tires and do a wheel alignment and wash and vacuum the car. Perhaps the only major thing they might have to do is flush the coolant at some point and flush the brake fluid. Firmware updates are automatically handled over the air though if it is in for service they will load the latest software onto it. The car can also be diagnosed remotely in many cases.
For example, mine was one of the early cars that received a defective 12v battery. Tesla contacted me about replacing it before it failed. Almost all of the issues I have had where my car has been brought in for service were for squeaks and rattles which were addressed in later production cars. By now all of the issues I have seen were addressed so new cars coming off of the production line will be even more reliable. Having a VIN in the low 5000s does have some drawbacks but Tesla has been very proactive at fixing issues discovered in their early cars.
Another thing, if you go to a Tesla service center you will see that the floor is white and the techs aren't nearly as grubby as a typical mechanic. Most stuff is far better protected from the elements than in a typical car.