Norwegian winter parks popular Tesla electric cars

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Electric cars from US-based Tesla Motors have become wildly popular in Norway, but their owners have been running into recharging problems since winter finally set in a few weeks ago. One Tesla owner found himself stranded on Christmas Eve with a dead battery, 150 kilometers from the nearest recharging station.

Norwegian motorists have embraced electric cars in general, and Tesla in particular, not least because the climate-friendly cars can be used in the lanes otherwise reserved for the bus and taxis, and they get a variety of other advantages in a country where automobiles are usually hit with punitive taxes to discourage car use. The trendy Tesla Model S luxury sedan can nonetheless cost up to NOK 800,000 (USD 130,000) in Norway, with all extras, and has become a status symbol of sorts. The cars are seen as very cool, while also giving off an image of climate consciousness.

Some, however, have gone from cool to ice cold since temperatures plummeted in southern Norway, where Tesla has its biggest Norwegian customer base. Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported over the weekend that increasing numbers of Tesla owners are complaining about problems recharging the cars in Norway, especially when temperatures drop well below the freezing point.

Tesla has confirmed the problems with recharging the cars when thermometers fall under zero, and online debate pages have been full of owners’ problems with the cars’ recharging cables. “We’re trying hard to resolve this,” Peter Bardenfleth-Hansen, Tesla’s sales chief for the Nordic and Benelux countries and the UK, told DN. “We’re sorry, and don’t like how Norwegian customers are suffering.

The problem is tied to the recharging cables that come with the Model S cars, because they don’t hold the charge in cold weather. DN reported that Tesla engineers have contacted affected customers, and were conducting tests in an effort to ensure more stable recharging.

On Monday, Tesla spokesman Esben Pedersen told DN the cars’ recharging system was “too sensitive” for the Norwegian electricity network. “We’re not saying there’s anything wrong with the Nowegian network,” Pedersen said, but added it’s a “challenge” because it’s “different” than the networks in other countries. Tesla technicians, according to DN, were sending out updated programs to customers for use when recharging.

newsinenglish.no staff

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  • Tom Just Olsen

    I have two friends who have bought the Tesla S and they are very enthusiastic about them. – I have not heard that they have any charging problems. I would also guess that battery capacity/range drop with cold weather. But the Model S easily drives from Oslo to Stockholm on one charge during the summer. Impressive. I am about to renew my car and will seriously considder a Tesla.

    • DmitryShaporenkov

      “the Model S easily drives from Oslo to Stockholm on one charge during the summer. Impressive.” – I doubt it can be true, because the distance between Oslo and Stockholm is approx. 520 km, and the range of the most capable version of Tesla S is 502 km. With a sheer luck and appropriate definitions of what are Oslo and Stockholm, one can probably manage this distance on one charge…but easily isn’t the word I’d use :)

      • Tom Just Olsen

        You are right. You have to stop and charge somewhere en route.

  • Keef Wivaneff

    Garage on fire?
    SOFTWARE UPGRADE
    Car on fire?
    SOFTWARE UPGRADE
    Weather too cold
    SOFTWARE UPGRADE
    Tesla Motors losing billions of dollars and likely to go bankrupt?
    SOFTWARE UPGRADE
    Elon Musk needs another $75M paycheck?
    SOFTWARE UPGRADE

    Keep calm and
    Carry On

    • inquisitor

      But, but, they are…”trendy”.

      • Keef Wivaneff

        Well….I guess that’s the main thing!

    • Håvar Moe

      ICE car in Garage on fire?
      PHYSICALLY RECALL ALL CARS
      ICE Car on fire?
      PHYSICALLY RECALL ALL CARS
      Weather too cold- ICE car won’t start
      TOW TO THE SERVICE CENTER

      -> I guess a software upgrade is the better solution

    • Joe Murray

      This is nothing. Just check the recall lists from any of the major brands.

  • Håvar Moe

    This is what you get when journalists spin off without doing enough research to understand the issues at hand. The problem isn’t related to winter and cold weather at all, the problem has existed since the first cars were delivered in August last year. But it hasn’t been taken seriously by Tesla until now. Charging in cold weather is not a problem, nor driving, and the range is not affected much by the cold weather. The problem is that when the battery has reach it’s defined level, you cannot start the charging again without removing the cable and inserting it again. And, it has been difficult to get the scheduled charging functionality to work properly.

    So, these faulty features are not essential to make the car operate, they are merely luxury features that intends to make the charging process silky smooth.

    I’ve had a Model S since September and I won’t trade it for anything. With the software upgrade tomorrow it will become even better. Then I can pre-heat the car from my kitchen, without using the battery energy – but energy from the electrical outlet in my house. Then I can roll off in a warm car with “full tank”

    • richard albert

      Well, yes; but a couple of itty-bitty problems pop up when an owner-advocate understands the issues but is a little hazy on the basic physics. I agree that the article has some inaccuracies but battery chemistry and applications are somewhat of a black art, and I don’t think that this sort of ad hominem attack on the staff is appropriate.
      The reason Tesla chose this particular chemistry is pretty obvious. Available energy vs mass, which is very important in aircraft, motor vehicles, portable devices and so on is an outstanding feature of lithium ion technology. Fork lift trucks, by contrast benefit from massive battery installations because they would otherwise tip over. The term of art is energy density and Tesla battery packs are hugely advanced in this respect.

      There are, as always, many trade-offs. One is that Li-ion is not a mass-scale system. Lead-acid batteries are more so; you make the plates bigger and add more electrolyte to get increased capacity. Li-ion does not likewise benefit from economy of scale. You end up using large numbers of rather small (by comparison) individual cells. This drives complexity and expense, and complexity is the nemesis of reliability. If you want an in depth exploration of this topic, go to: http://arc.aiaa.org/doi/abs/10.2514/6.1999-2307 I did the paper about fifteen years ago and it addressed a different application, but the basic premise is still valid. Before anyone goes ballistic (sorry
      again) over the VAFB tag, remember that a stray launch vehicle with the most benign payload – mobile communications, a GPS satellite, or a spycraft on global warming – has to be blown up if it heads for LA.

      Li-ion technology also requires another expensive and complex accessory, and that is that the charging cycle must be controlled at any temperature by an electronic assembly contained within the battery pack itself.

      This is the genesis of the ‘software upgrade’ that nobody seems to understand. Like all reversible chemical reactions, the Li-ion charge/discharge cycle is highly temperature dependent, and the folks at Tesla (just like those at Boeing – sorry JC) are in a learning curve. This technology has only recently been marketed in this particular application in the northern tier of the US, in Canada; and also in northern Europe. Sustained sub-zero temperatures (degrees F since this is a US provider) can lower the available discharge rate by up to 50%; which is inconvenient, but also has a similar effect on the charge rate – as reversible reactions tend to be symmetrical. Tweaking the software will hopefully optimize the charge rate at lower temperatures. This is one of the reasons that NASA and other aerospace concerns have used battery heaters in critical applications for years, and why Larry, Curly and Moe experience better results by keeping their units toasty warm. A warm battery will perform much better than a cold one. Remember ‘cranking power’? That did not only happen with the Sears DieHard, which optimized automotive lead-acid technology beginning around fifty years ago. Li-ion batteries do not use liquid electrolyte, as do common automotive batteries, so this effect is further mitigated.

      Deflagration in Li-ion energy systems, would generally either be the result of high temperature operation or, guess what – hardware or software malfunction of the charge/discharge control system, and while a bona fide concern, it is not due to inherent vice in the chemistry or application. Since pressing the foot feed
      to the floor in an vehicle using a very large capacity battery and electric traction system is a recipe for catastrophic failure of the drive train, aconsequence of almost unlimited torque, further electronic systems must be employed to actually emulate driver experience based upon conventional systems and insure safety. Back to complexity and reliability.

      “But wait, there’s more!” As Ron Popiel would say. Waste heat from internal and external combustion systems provides the energy for safety, passenger comfort (except for AC) and other uses in conventional conveyances. Battery discharge is exothermic, (one reason besides passion and RF chip dissipation why your
      smartphone heats up when you call your sweetie) which further mitigates cold weather effects but is insufficient in passenger vehicles to provide these services. Superior insulation, which also provides relief in warmer climates, and other innovations in Materials Engineering also assist, but if the only energy source in operation is a main battery then these loads must be added to the total drain and will inexorably impact the ‘range’.

      Get everyone to sign up two friends for a year’s subscription, so News & Views can hire a science editor. Then we won’t have to worry about news staff and technical topics.

  • jamesnorway77

    Think i will wait for the price to come down 800000??? for an electric car i dont care how good it looks what a rip off. Car prices over here are a joke.

    • BobBobbyBobertsen

      You do realize that the Tesla is cheaper here than pretty much anywhere else in the world?!? Norway taxes petrol & diesel cars, and gives incentives to buy electric cars.

      Also, any Norwegian who is not a complete and utter idiot should be able to make tonnes of money in this country, wait I take that back, any Norwegian can get rich, non-idiocy not required.

      • jamesnorway77

        yes and ever heard the saying a fool and there money are easily parted ……..