Angry Tesla Owners Go on Hunger Strike Over Quality Problems
Norwegian Tesla owners are fed up with their Teslas and are hunger striking to get the attention of Elon Musk.
Electric vehicles are taking Norway by storm, and the top-selling EV brand in the country has been Tesla year over year. However, that doesn't mean that its vehicles are without perceived problems, ones that some Norwegian Tesla owners say that they have been unable to remediate with Tesla directly. Some owners report that they are experiencing poor customer service, and others allege that they are ignored by the automaker with unkept promises of return phone calls.
Now, a group of these owners are fed up and have begun seeking out an alternative means to get Tesla's attention. The latest? A hunger strike.
Many of the owners' complaints aren't exactly new. For example, just a few of the major issues noted are poor paint quality, rust, inability to meet claimed battery life, failing heat pumps, stuck door handles in the cold, and yellowing infotainment screens (that Tesla told the NHTSA were only meant to last "5-6 years" anyway).
Other issues can be found easily on owners' forums. For example, issues with the car's lights, bubbling seats, water collecting in the trunk, loose trim pieces, and reduced power. Another complaint is simply that "autopilot does not work properly." While this statement is rather broad, it's something that many can understand given the number of recent complaints against Tesla's partially automated driving software. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration even opened up an engineering analysis on the technology, which is a prerequisite step to the agency asking an automaker to issue a recall.
If all of these complaints are fairly well known on the internet, why are owners escalating things to a hunger strike?
According to the group's website, another huge issue preventing owners from having their vehicles perform to their expectations involves the customer service side of the company. Owners say that they spend an inordinate amount of time waiting on hold to actually speak with someone from Tesla and that they never receive a call back when promised. The Drive has heard similar complaints from U.S. owners, specifically from one who recently was unable to drive their car for six months because Tesla's botched paperwork rendered them unable to register their vehicle.
The Norwegian owners believe that if they can raise the issue to the attention of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, all will be resolved.
After news of the hunger strike began circulating on social media, Musk tweeted about fasting. While this feels coincidental, some involved in the strike believe that it was meant to be a cruel subtweet, while others believe that the purpose was instead an SEO countermeasure against the news of a hunger strike. In any matter, neither Musk nor Tesla publicly commented on the matter prior to Musk's private jet taking off to Norway—whether that is related is unknown.
Tesla once tried to brand itself as the parent of the affordable electric car but has since pivoted its business model to selling premium vehicles that are meant to compete with the likes of the BMW 3-Series. Given its laundry list of user-reported problems, that premium selling point may be more than some owners are willing to put up with. And it's not like these complaints are new, either. Owners have been complaining about Tesla's after-sales service for some time to no avail, even resulting in untrained employees reportedly being sent to service centers to serve as warm bodies to improve the experience. While frustrated owners are still seeking a solution, some Norwegians believe they have found it by organizing a hunger strike.