Norway is Tesla’s biggest market per capita and it shows no sign of slowing down. It gives us a glimpse at the potential future of other markets as they grow their own electric vehicle fleets.
Right now, it’s not a hopeful glimpse at the future in terms of service as several Norwegian Tesla owners report ridiculously long wait times and unreturned phone calls as Tesla’s service centers in Norway are overworked and low on parts.
Tesla says that it has already made improvements and customers should start to see a difference soon.
There are over 26,000 Tesla vehicles registered in Norway at this time.
Tesla has 11 service centers servicing this fairly large fleet of vehicles.
The automaker always had issues keeping up with the growth in the country, but it is apparently getting out of control recently.
Over the last few weeks, we started getting reports from Norwegian Tesla owners about having difficulty reaching service people and getting quoted ridiculously long wait times to get service.
For example, Aart-Jan van Wijngaarden owns a Tesla Model S 85D. He doesn’t live close to a Tesla service center so he started accumulating a few issues with the car before bringing his car into service. Things like the sunroof having issues and AC not performing well.
But in January 2018, the charge cable stopped working, which is a more important issue, so he had to change it.
He told Electrek that he went to the Tesla Service Center at Kokstad (Bergen, Norway) and they gave him a new cable.
For the other issues, he was put on a “waitlist” to get his car into service.
A few weeks later, he hadn’t heard anything and the door handle on his rear door stopped working so he called the service center again to get an update on when he could bring his car in for service.
At the time, Aart-Jan was told that they probably wouldn’t be able to get to his car until April or May.
He told Electrek that he got a call from Tesla on April 17th telling him that he had an appointment the next day, which he wasn’t aware of, but it had to be canceled anyway because they didn’t have the parts to fix the issues he had with his Model S.
Aart-Jan says that they couldn’t even give him a new date during that call.
A month later, his Model S started to prompt an alert that he needed to replace the 12V battery. Already 4 months into trying to get his car into service, he called Tesla again and they told him it would take another few months.
Not knowing what to do at that point, he visited the service center in person without luck. He resorted to tweeting to Tesla CEO Elon Musk:
“Getting pretty annoyed, I read about people sending complaints to Elon Musk on Twitter. So I did as well, and a few days later I got an appointment with another Service Center in Bergen (Minde), to get at least the 12V battery issue checked and the door repaired. Happy that something was happening, I delivered the car to the service center.”
He got his car back on Friday with both issues fixed. To this day, the other issues, and now new ones emerging, have still not been fixed and he can’t get a solid date from Tesla to bring his car into service 6 months after first bringing up the issues with Tesla.
This horror story might sound like a freak case, but it actually appears to be somewhat common for Tesla’s service in Norway.
Petter Baardsen got a used Model S 85 in April and it stopped working a week into owning the car. It was towed to Tesla’s service center in Oslo. That’s already better than Aart-Jan’s case since the car was actually in service, but that’s only when the wait started.
A week later, they figured the battery pack needed to be replaced. They wouldn’t give him an ETA for the battery pack beyond a rough “3 to 6 weeks” estimate.
Now 11 weeks and several phone calls and emails later, Petter has been told that the battery pack has now arrived in Norway, but he doesn’t know when it is going to be installed in his car.
We have received a dozen other similar examples with wait times of over a month and it looks like it’s not only anecdotal since the Norwegian Consumer Council received over 100 complaints about Tesla during the first half of the year.
We contacted Tesla about what appears to be a growing issue and the company claims it is on top of it.
A Tesla spokesperson told Electrek about several service initiatives in Norway including a doubling of the size of the service team by the end of the year versus the last year.
The automaker also plans to quadruple its mobile service capacity during the summer. A new and bigger service center is also planned in Oslo, where there’s the biggest concentration of Tesla owners.
Tesla claims that it has already grown the service team in Norway by 30% this year and the increase in service throughput has been aligned with the growing staff and additional shifts.
The company expects the trend to continue and therefore, customers should start seeing a difference in wait times.
In the past, Tesla had similar temporary problems in other markets, but the company managed to maintain the highest level of owner satisfaction in the auto industry.
Update: Tesla CEO Elon Musk commented on the situation after we published out report:
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.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 5, 2018
Apparently, some of previously mentioned service vehicles are ready to go but awaiting approval from the Norwegian road authority.
Some of the reports we got from owners in Norway, like those two examples above, are impossible to defend.
It’s not even about cases that have fallen through the cracks. Those people have followed up with Tesla and simply can’t get their cars fixed.
On most occasions, it sounds like Tesla Norway has difficulties getting parts on time and on other occasions, it sounds like they might actually be understaffed.
On the bright side, it does look like Tesla is on top of the issue now, but I would argue that they have been a few months late to get this under control.
Tesla really needs to get a grasp on it in Norway, where it has a high concentration of vehicles, otherwise, I can see similar problems arising in other markets where Tesla’s customer fleet is rapidly expanding with the Model 3.
We often talk about Norway being a glimpse at the future for the rest of the world when it comes to EVs, but it can also be the case for challenging aspects.
To be fair, Tesla also has different service efforts in different regions. For example, its mobile service initiative is much bigger in the US right now and once it makes it to Norway with a bigger fleet of mobile repair vehicles and mobile technicians, we might start to see a bigger difference.
Though the problem with parts seems to be a recurring one. We have seen it with body shops too and it’s not really something that can be addressed with more technicians. Tesla might need a restructuring of its parts division as it expands its fleet.
In conclusion, it’s not doom and gloom, but certainly something Tesla needs to address.
What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below.