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’.