-- After a fender-bender with his Tesla Model S last
February, Tor Havard Wiig figured he’d be back on the
road within a week or two. Five months on, he’s still
waiting on parts—and he’s ready to sell the two-year-old
delay and scant communication from Tesla Inc.
show “there’s a lot lacking there,” said Wiig, a
43-year-old technology consultant in the Norwegian
coastal city of Bergen. “I never expected it to take so
long to fix such minor damage.”
Tesla sales boom in Norway, customers are grousing about
a dealership network and service operation that have
failed to keep pace. Though Chief Executive Officer Elon
Musk says the level of output Tesla has reached this
summer means it’s finally become a real car company, the
experience in Norway suggests Tesla’s woes don’t stop at
the assembly line. Musk has struggled to ramp up
production of a cheaper sedan, the Model 3, and the
company is said to havepressed
suppliersto return cash paid
Norway, where plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles made
up more than half of new car sales last year, Tesla is
the lowest-ranked automaker on a list of brands for
quality of service, and fourth-worst among companies in
has slipped up as sales in Norway for its Model S sedan
and Model X SUV—with prices ranging from about $80,000
to $130,000 in Norway—more than doubled last year and
jumped another 70 percent through June. Its repair
staff, by contrast, has grown only by a
third—highlighting the potential troubles it may face as
electric cars become more commonplace.
could probably call it growing pains,” said Christina
Bu, secretary general of the Norwegian Electric Vehicle
Association, a group that represents car owners.
“They’re heading at full speed into a mass market where
customers will demand better service. Norway is the
first country where this is really happening.”
has said Norwegians wererightto
be upset, but blames authorities for not acting fast
enough to greenlight a plan to dispatch repair
technicians to customers’ homes. While some talks
have taken place, Tesla hasn’t filed a formal
application for mobile service centers, Norwegian
Norwegians are right to be upset with Tesla.
We are having trouble expanding our service facilities
in Oslo especially. Can solve quickly with Tesla mobile
service vans, but awaiting govt permission to do so.
says it’s planning to open a new repair shop in Oslo
this year and that satisfaction with its service is
rising as it has expanded its team of technicians by 30
percent. Norway’s leading recruitment website,
Finn.no, shows 33 jobs for Tesla parts advisers,
technicians, and mechanics posted this month alone. BMW
AG and Volkswagen, with top-selling e-cars, show none.
hired many people already,” said Satheesh Varadharajan,
head of the Tesla Owners Club Norway, which has more
than 3,000 members. “It’s not like they’re
standing still. They’re pushing like crazy.”
Tesla stumbles, traditional automakers—with well
established service networks—are adding models and
boosting output. Jaguar this year introduced its $80,000
I-Pace crossover, with a driving range of 298 miles,
versus 237 miles for a similarly priced Model X. Next
year, Mercedes-Benz will unveil the EQ C crossover, and
Volkswagen is planning a new electric hatchback to face
off with Tesla’s Model 3.
and battery-powered cars already play a major role in
the nation of 5.3 million people that gets its
electricity almost exclusively from hydro plants. But as
Norway aims to make all new cars sold in the country
battery-powered by 2025—a target it will reach only with
lavish subsidies paid for by sales of oil—automakers
will need to fix their service hiccups.
recent survey by the electric vehicles association
showed that an increasing number of owners report
waiting to get a spot at a charging station. A shortage
of charging sockets has become the second-most cited
reason for not buying an electric car, after concerns
about driving range.
now, Tesla can rely on the kind of goodwill reserved for
underdogs, though this is likely to change as it grows
and shifts the balance of its production away from
luxury vehicles and toward the mass market.
it had been another car brand, you would maybe be a bit
less forgiving,” said Henrik Eriksen, who had to
send his new Tesla S in for repairs almost immediately
after he bought it because of a problem with the main
fuse. “But it’s just like a football team, you want to
cheer on the one you believe in.”
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