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TESLA

Electric cars take a tenth of Norway market

Electric cars took more than ten percent of Norway's car market in November thanks to the country's generous incentives, official figures published on Tuesday have revealed.

Electric cars take a tenth of Norway market
The Volkwagen e-up at the Hannover Messe technology show - Motorblog
 A total of 1,434 electric cars, or 11.9 percent of all new registrations, were sold in the Nordic country last month, the Information Council for Road Traffic (OFV) said.
   
Despite the rise, for the first time in three months the highest-selling car was not an electric model, but the Volkswagen Golf.
   
However, three electric cars were among the top ten: the high-end US-made Tesla S ranked second, the Leaf by Japan's Nissan came fifth and Volkswagen's new E-Up was ninth.
   
The Tesla S and the Leaf topped the sales list in September and October respectively.
   
Electric cars are exempt from VAT sales tax and other high Norwegian taxes as well as public parking fees and urban toll payments. They are also allowed to use bus lanes.
   
To further encourage sales, Norway has also deployed a dense network of electrical re-charging stations throughout the country.
   
Even the country's Crown Prince Haakon has acquired a Tesla S.  In November 2012, electric cars amounted to a mere 2.6 percent of all new registrations.

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TESLA

Battery of complaints against Tesla in Norway

"I've had the car for eight months and it ran fine for four days," says Yngve Solberg, who like many Norwegians is fed up with the slew of problems his Tesla X has given him.

Battery of complaints against Tesla in Norway
In a tight spot: Tesla has struggled to provide after-sales support that matches the soaring demand for its high-end electric cars. Photo: Damian Morys/Flickr

Tesla has sold more cars per capita in Norway than any other country in the world thanks to the government's generous measures in favour of electric cars including tax exemptions, free city tolls and public parking.

More than 26,000 Tesla S and X models are registered in Norway, according to the website www.teslastats.no.

But Tesla has struggled to provide after-sales support that matches the soaring demand for its high-end electric cars.

As a result, Tesla owners in Norway face long waits for repairs, a shortage of spare parts, difficulty reaching customer services, leading – unsurprisingly – to oodles of complaints.

In the first half of the year, Tesla became the company with the fourth-highest number of complaints registered with the Norwegian Consumer Council. In 2017, it held the 24th spot.

A car enthusiast, Solberg has had a long series of woes with his new Tesla X.

Among the problems he has faced were malfunctioning rear doors and a faulty suspension system. And each time he has faced trouble, it has taken him several months to get an appointment for repairs.

Photo: AFP

“Because of the doors, I couldn't park next to other cars for three months, neither at my work garage nor in my parking spot outside my home. All this with a car that costs 1.1 million kroner (€115,000, $133,000),” he bristled.

On an online forum for the Norwegian Association of Electric Cars, another Tesla owner said he was so frustrated he ended up taking his car to Danish capital Copenhagen to replace a faulty suspension arm. He has also been waiting for new seats for 13 months.

Musk says Norwegians are right

These are not isolated cases. A survey conducted by the Tesla Owners Club Norway indicates that 38 percent are dissatisfied with the company's after-sales support, compared with 57 percent who are satisfied.

“Norwegians are right to be upset with Tesla,” admitted Tesla chief executive Elon Musk.

“We are having trouble expanding our service facilities in Oslo especially,” he tweeted on July 5.

Photo: AFP

He said the problems could be resolved “quickly” if Norway would give the green light for mobile service vans able to provide repairs at clients' homes.

Tesla is in talks with authorities with a view to adapting this service to national regulations, which strictly define car repair shops.

The problems are particularly troublesome for Tesla, as Norway is a seen as a global testing ground for electric cars.

The Scandinavian country, whose electricity is almost exclusively from hydro, aims to stop selling cars running on fossil fuels in seven years — by 2025.

Tesla is therefore doubling its efforts to meet Norway's needs.

The company's spokesman in the Nordic region, Even Sandvold Roland, said after-sales support staff has already been augmented by 30 percent this year, additional shifts have been set up in some places, and a new repair centre is due to open shortly in Oslo.

'Growing pains'

“Things are improving,” said Satheesh Varadharajan, the head of the Association of Tesla Owners. “It's positive, though we're still a little concerned about whether it's going quickly enough.”

Keen to participate in the technological breakthrough the Californian company is offering, many motor enthusiasts are affording Tesla a patience they would not normally grant a conventional carmaker.

“Early adopters show a lot of understanding and accept that things take a little time, that there are growing pains. No other group has grown as much as quickly,” stressed Varadharajan.

Despite the many frustrations, Yngve Solberg still has faith in Tesla and has reserved a Model 3, the company's first car targeting the mass market.

But Solberg said his faith had limits.

Tesla has had trouble ramping up production of the Model 3, and “if it's the same chaos that I've experienced these past eight months, then, no.”