Tesla Motors blames Norwegian electricity grid for cold-weather Model S charging failures

Norway has long been seen as a spiritual home for the Tesla Model S. With outrageous tax levied on purchases of large-engined combustion cars, the Model S – quite incredibly for a premium electric car – topped September’s sales charts, selling more than any other car in any other segment.

It was an unbelievable feat, although not all that surprising given the Norwegian desire for efficiency and a nationwide penchant for sustainability. There are even reports of second-hand cars going for more than list price, so keen are people to avoid the five-month waiting list on a Model S. But there’s a problem.

Norwegian newspaper Dagens Näringsliv is now reporting that a number of Tesla Model S owners are experiencing charging failures in the cold weather. It’s exactly as it sounds: despite being plugged in, the cars’ batteries steadfastly refuse to accept charge from the mains.

The problem for Tesla is a significant one. Not only does it render the car useless – just imagine a gasoline car that didn’t have a fuel tank – but it also contradicts CEO Elon Musk’s assertion that his cars are natural performers in the cold (just ask Bjørn, or Arne – both make their Teslas work beautifully for them in Norway), offering unrivalled safety and uncompromised range.

It’s true that the Model S seems to suffer from cold weather less than other pure electric cars, and the company’s Superchargers are reportedly working perfectly. As such, Tesla claims that the Norwegian grid itself is “too sensitive”, and is updating Norwegian Tesla firmware to counter the problem.

Tesla’s claim tallies with the situation in the US, where temperatures have lately been colder than much of Norway, yet similar charging problems are yet to surface. Given Tesla’s perfectionist nature, it certainly isn’t beyond the realms of possibility that a nation’s power grid is the cause of this problem before the Model S. We’ll have to wait and see where this leads.

The problem, which caused one Tesla owner to be stranded nearly 100 miles from the nearest charging station, according to News in English, has now been blamed on the Tesla charging cables that the Model S ships with. The cables purportedly don’t hold charge in cold weather and prompted Tesla’s Norwegian head of communications, Esben Pederson, to comment that Tesla isn’t “saying there’s anything wrong with the Norwegian network,” only that it represents a “challenge” because it’s “different.”

Norwegian business tabloid Dagens Næringsliv has reported that 12 Tesla engineers had been sent from the USA to solve the problem with a software upgrade, with ‘most charging problems now gone’.

Posted by Richard Lane

Richard is a London-based automotive journalist specialising in future mobility and sustainable design. Having fallen for cars because of the virtues of a particular German flat-six, it's what we'll all be driving next that now interests Richard most. Dream garage: Alfa Romeo GT 1300 Junior and a Detroit Electric SP:01.

  1. old post yeah, but any electric designer can imagine that a connection resistance of 10-50mohm will need a dissapating of 16-80watt in heat when 40amps load. connection clamps/surface need to be greater and much more pressure on the surfaces, protected from dirt,fat, oil etc that incresase resistance.

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  2. Norway isn’t the only country that Tesla chargers aren’t charging are properly. A lot of US customers are also having problems with Tesla chargers, not charging properly. Customer support has been slow in the US to resolve these problems. Reduced range and charging problems are worse when it is cold.
    http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/showthread.php/25669-False-Positives-With-FW-5-8-4-Charge-Current-Reduction

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  3. Tesla sucks. So many Tesla customers were pissed off at the defective chargers and Tesla support, that there was no choice but to contact the media. There’s been several national news stories on Tesla’s charging problems and lack of customer support. Despite all of the customer complaints, management claimed they weren’t aware that there was a problem.

    http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&u=http%3A//www.vg.no/nyheter/innenriks/artikkel.php%3Fartid%3D10142719

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  4. BendOverTeslaShortsHereItComes January 26, 2014 at 5:30 PM

    Clearly this is uniformed and sensationalistic reporting. If the house wiring is inadequate, then the wiring needs to be brought up to code. The world changes, and the infrastructure needs to keep up. As it is, the Tesla charging system is probably detecting that the wiring is a fire risk and STOPS CHARGING rather than putting additional load on the antiquated, shaky, and unsafe wiring.

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    1. The article is pretty good. You are very wrong.

      The chargers in Norway are having problems because Tesla didn’t make its charging system compatible with the Norway power grid. It has nothing to do with faulty house wiring.

      In North America a lot of Tesla owners are having problems with defective Tesla charge connectors. Tesla has issued a recall for some of the defective charge connectors. They were supposed to be mailed out on Friday, but Tesla makes big promises and big claims and often falls short.

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  5. With all the problems Tesla has been having, it’s ridiculous to call them perfectionists. If Tesla were perfectionists they would have studied Norway’s grid and made more appropriate charging hardware and software. If Tesla were perfectionists, they would do more for customer support in Norway. If Tesla were perfectionists, they would have taken care of American Tesla’s charge connectors long ago. Tesla’s charge connectors have had documented overheating issues for about a year, yet it hasn’t been till recently that they issued a recall. If Tesla were perfectionists, they never should have made such lousy charge connections in the first place.

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  6. Tesla Motors & Elon Musk are idiotic crooks playing the blame game. If Tesla Motors & Elon were proactive, scientific and reputable; they would have tested the Norway electrical grid and done trial runs before opening up the Norway market. Tesla Motors & Elon Musk are selling expensive cars to customers that can’t use them because Tesla did not do proper testing and research.

    At least to the best of my knowledge Norway hasn’t had problems with charger fires, like in the US. I don’t think Tesla did proper testing and research of their charger connection designs. Allegedly there charge connections aren’t even UL listed/tested. Tesla should start acting proactively instead of reactively. If Tesla really cared about safety, they should have gotten their charge connectors UL certified/tested. Tesla Motors & Elon Musk play the blame game rather than manning up admitting to their problems, then fixing their problems.

    The haters will probably attack me and my post. They hate knowledge, honesty and safety. They are motivated by greed. That should be obvious since they side with corporate greed.

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    1. Actually, Tesla charger connectors are UL listed. The cause of the fire was due to improper wiring in the house.

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      1. Then what is the UL listed numbers for the charger connections that also melt and burn? What’s the UL number for the Tesla NEMA 14-50 adapter? What is the UL number for the UMC brick connector?

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      2. The fire department ruled that the Tesla charge connections were a possible source of the garage fire. I wouldn’t trust with a greedy corporation like Tesla says.

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        1. Actually, according to the fire report the Tesla cable was not melted. What was melted was the junction box. The fire department also claimed that they did not do an investigation and all they did was a preliminary ruling.

          It was also found that the house did not have a legal permit for that socket and the socket was not checked by the city to see if it met electrical code.

          As for the specific UL number for the NEMA adapter, let me see if I can find it.

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          1. I don’t know where you get your information from, but you are very wrong.

            The Tesla cable was very badly burned. The fire department said that Tesla’s universal mobile connector and junction box were so badly burned that they weren’t able to conclusively determine which was the source.

            Tesla has had a lot of problems with their poorly designed connectors melting and burning. That’s part of the reason they are recalling the adapters. While house wiring that hasn’t been inspected is suspicious, that doesn’t mean it is the source of the fire. Tesla’s charge connectors are a known fire hazard.

        2. Brian, I have no clue where you got your information but it is severely flawed. I don’t blame you as sometimes the media does a poor job of reporting and misses a lot of facts.

          My information comes from directly reading the fire department report and I quote from the report:

          “The plug was removed by fire crews during the suppression and placed on the floor near the rear tire of the vehicle. The electrical cord was specific to the Tesla vehicles. The cord was not damaged between the plug at the vehicle end and the control box.”

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          1. Do you get paid to spread lies. Do you have a vested interest in Tesla in your prejudice and ignorance?

            You mindlessly cherry pick segments of the report, to misrepresent the report. You are bad as the media and Tesla.

            If you read the whole report you would know you are misrepresenting the report.

            The Tesla wires and connections on the other side of the control box are the ones that were burned and the ones that are known to have a design defect that leads to those Tesla connectors to melt and burn.

            Excerpts from Orange County Fire Authority’s investigation report.

            “The fire started at either the wall socket or the Universal Mobile Connector”

            “The most probable cause of this fire is a high resistance connection at the wall socket or the Universal Mobile Connector from the Tesla charging system”

            You should be ashamed of yourself for siding with a greedy corporation. Shame on you for covering up Tesla’s dangerous designs.

            There has been many cases that Tesla’s charge connectors have been documented melting and burning.

            http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/showthread.php/23212-Scary-issue-with-Nema-14-50-adapter-melting

            http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/showthread.php/15304-Plug-Adapter-on-my-Universal-Mobile-Connector-has-melted

            http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/showthread.php/18092-Schmelted-UMC-NEMA-14-50

    2. To attack your dumb post one does not have to be a hater. Any a person with a minuscule amount of logical thinking present would do – a quality that you obviously lack in any measurable amount.

      1) Exactly what “charging fireS” are you referring to? In the 2 years that Tesla Model S was on sale there was just 1 (one) notable fire originating CLOSE to the charger. The fault was determined to be with the faulty house grid – not the Tesla charger itself!
      2) Model S was tested extensively for over 2 years of field trials – including that in Europe
      3) Tesla charger connectors are UL liste

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      1. 1)
        There has been many cases that Tesla’s charge connectors have been documented melting and burning.

        http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/showthread.php/23212-Scary-issue-with-Nema-14-50-adapter-melting

        http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/showthread.php/15304-Plug-Adapter-on-my-Universal-Mobile-Connector-has-melted

        http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/showthread.php/18092-Schmelted-UMC-NEMA-14-50

        2)
        Tesla’s alleged “testing” has obviously fell very short. If Tesla did proper testing and science; they wouldn’t be having the problems they are now in Norway.

        A lot of Norwegian Tesla customers are very angry with Tesla because Tesla did not do proper research, testing or science. Tesla was not proactive, Tesla is being reactive. Tesla has an very bad reputation in Norway. Not only does Tesla have a bad reputation in Norway for its product, it’s customer support also has a lousy reputation.

        http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=&sl=no&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Felbilforum.no%2Fforum%2Findex.php%2Ftopic%2C11728.0.html

        3)
        Sure some of the Tesla Chargers allegedly have been UL tested and listed. The point being is the charger and its connections that have been melting and burning UL listed? If so what is the UL listing/numbers? Some claim they aren’t.

        Your response shows your true don’t you understand my post. Are you paid by Tesla to lie? Do you have a vested interest in Tesla?

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      2. 1)
        There has been many cases that Tesla’s charge connectors have been documented melting and burning.

        http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/showthread.php/23212-Scary-issue-with-Nema-14-50-adapter-melting

        http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/showthread.php/15304-Plug-Adapter-on-my-Universal-Mobile-Connector-has-melted

        http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/showthread.php/18092-Schmelted-UMC-NEMA-14-50

        2)
        Tesla’s alleged “testing” has obviously fell very short. If Tesla did proper testing and science; they wouldn’t be having the problems they are now in Norway.

        A lot of Norwegian Tesla customers are very angry with Tesla because Tesla did not do proper research, testing or science. Tesla was not proactive, Tesla is being reactive. Tesla has an very bad reputation in Norway. Not only does Tesla have a bad reputation in Norway for its product, it’s customer support also has a lousy reputation.

        http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=&sl=no&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Felbilforum.no%2Fforum%2Findex.php%2Ftopic%2C11728.0.html

        3)
        Sure some of the Tesla Chargers allegedly have been UL tested and listed. The point being is the charger and its connections that have been melting and burning UL listed? If so what is the UL listing/numbers? Some claim they aren’t.

        Your response shows your true don’t you understand my post. Are you paid by Tesla? Do you have a vested interest in Tesla?

        Reply

    3. Well, looks like someone is shorting Tesla and hoping to generate some FUD. Good luck with that.

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      1. Are you paid by Tesla? Do you have a vested interest in Tesla?

        Reply

    4. Hi Kettle. I’m Pot. You’re black.

      Reply

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