Norway has long been one of the biggest markets for Tesla luxury electric cars, meaning that as many as 11,000 Norwegians are now finding their vehicles subject to recall. At the same time, electric car sales continue to boom in Norway, and even outpaced sales last month of conventional vehicles that use gasoline or diesel.
US-based Tesla is recalling a total of 123,000 of its popular Model S cars that were produced before April 2016. The recall is a response to the discovery of rust problems on bolts that can affect the vehicle’s steering function.
Oslo-based newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported this week that 11,024 Tesla Model S vehicles were registered in Norway as of May 2016. Tesla reportedly has sent emails offering repairs to all registered owners of the cars.
Not only are there so many Model S Teslas in Norway, the potential flaw with the vehicles makes those in Norway especially vulnerable because of local climate conditions. DN noted that the rust problem can be more widespread in areas where roads are routinely salted by transport authorities to help clear them of snow and ice. That’s common practice during Norwegian winters, especially this past one.
No accidents yet
Tesla’s spokesman in Norway, Even Sandvold Roland, wouldn’t say whether the rust has actually been found on Tesla Model S cars in Norway, nor would he confirm how many cars would be recalled. “We have no further information to share other than what’s in the email,” Roland told DN. “Customers affected have been notified.” The email specifies that no damage or accidents have occurred because of the rust problem so far.
Norway is one of the biggest markets in the world for electric cars, not least because of all the tax advantages that make even Teslas relatively reasonably priced compared to conventional vehicles. Electric cars are exempt from Norway’s high taxes on cars at time of purchase, which can double the actual price of the car, and also enjoy free recharging at a bounty of stations around the country. They’re also exempt from road tolls, parking fees and even ferry fares in some areas.
Sales boomed again
Politicians advocating electric car use were grinning from ear-to-ear when statistics rolled in this week showing that for the first time, electric car sales in Norway outpaced those for conventionally fuelled vehicles in March. Fully 54 percent of all new cars sold last month were electric. That was up from 27.8 percent in February.
The numbers aren’t likely to be repeated, however, because they reflected an aberration. Newspaper Dagsavisen reported that there had been a long waiting list for new Nissan Leaf electric cars, and 2,172 finally arrived in Norway last month. That skewed total sales figures when their new owners could finally buy and register them.
Lan Marie Nguyen Berg of the Greens Party was nonetheless delighted. “The growth in March is fantastic,” said Berg, who’s in charge of environmental issues for the City of Oslo and wants to make the downtown area free of fossil-fuelled vehicles. “This is part of a larger picture over time where we’ve seen strong growth.” Berg believes the sales figures for electric cars, even at a third of all car sales, prove that political incentives have met their intentions.