Disgruntled Tesla owners have gone on hunger strike in Norway in protest over multiple faults with their electric cars.
The Norwegian group began their hunger strike at the weekend ahead of Tesla CEO Elon Musk arriving in Oslo, Norway, for an energy conference on Monday.
The Tesla owners are demanding action after they found a series of faults with their vehicles, from the car not starting to loose front seats and rust on paintwork.
They also criticised the quality of the vegan leather seats, with the material deforming and bubbling.
The drivers spelled out the word ‘help’ with their Tesla vehicles as part of their protest, with the hunger strike lasting for 24 hours.
After news of the hunger strike began appearing on social media, Musk tweeted about fasting, writing ‘On advice of a good friend, I’ve been fasting periodically & feel healthier.’
Although seemingly coincidental, some involved in the protest saw it as a ‘cruel subtweet’ in reference to their actions.
Spokesman Erlend Mørch, 27, from Oslo, explains: ‘We are hoping to get Elon’s attention so he will start to pay attention to his Norwegian customers.
‘Customers that love the car and many who want to continue being Tesla customers, but are plagued with endless repairs and an in many cases unresponsive support centres.’
In a speech at an event to mark the beginning of the protest, Mr Mørch said: ‘Dear Tesla owners, the day has come.
‘It is now our voices will be heard. It is now we reach our hands to the skies, and hope that the one who looks down on us – with his satellites – will hear our prayers.’
The Tesla Hunger Strike website lists 29 alleged problems owners have had with Tesla cars. It states: ‘Norway has the most Teslas per capita in the world. But a lot of customers are not happy.
‘Norway is by far the number 1 Tesla country in the world. We are the canary in the coal mine.
‘We are a group of dissatisfied Norwegian Tesla owners. We believe that if Elon Musk is made aware of our troubles, he will solve the situation.’
Norway, population 5.4 million, has the world’s highest proportion of electric vehicles, with Tesla the best seller.
Nearly two thirds of Norway’s new sales in 2021 were electric cars, and the country is aiming to become the first to end the sale of diesel and petrol cars.
The company has come under fire over the years for the quality of the Tesla vehicles.
Customers across the world have complained that the vegan leather upholstery has caused the seats and headrest to bubble.
Owners of the electric vehicles claim they have been told the bubbling is caused by the substitute leather reacting to lotions, hair sprays, hand sanitisers and other products used on the hair and skin.
As the cars are exposed to heat a chemical reaction with these products causes the vegan upholstery to expand.
Reports suggest that the reported defects are appearing most commonly on the headrest – which costs hundreds of pounds to replace.
Tesla owners have also complained that the auto-pilot system does not work properly.
In July, a court in Munich ordered Tesla to reimburse a customer most of the £97,312 ($112,884) she paid for a Model X SUV because of problems with the Autopilot function.
A technical report showed the vehicle did not reliably recognize obstacles like the narrowing of a construction site and would at times activate the brakes unnecessarily.
This could cause a ‘massive hazard’ in city centers and lead to collisions, the court ruled.
Tesla lawyers argued Autopilot was not designed for city traffic, according to Der Spiegel, to which the court said it was not feasible for drivers to switch the feature on and off manually in different settings as it would distract from driving.
U.S. safety regulators are investigating Tesla’s Autopilot function after reports of 16 crashes, including seven injury incidents and one death, involving Tesla vehicles in Autopilot that had struck stationary first-responder and road maintenance vehicles.
Tesla says Autopilot allows vehicles to brake and steer automatically within their lanes but does not make them capable of driving themselves.
Musk said in March that Tesla is likely to launch a test version of its new ‘Full Self-Driving’ software in Europe later this year, depending on regulatory approval.
‘It’s quite difficult to do full self-driving in Europe,’ he told workers at Berlin factory at the time, saying much work needs to be done to handle tricky driving situations in Europe where roads vary a lot by country.
In February, Tesla announced it was recalling nearly 54,000 cars and SUVs because their ‘Full Self-Driving’ software lets them roll through stop signs without coming to a complete halt.
The recall covers Model S sedans and X SUVs from 2016 through 2022, as well as 2017 to 2022 Model 3 sedans and 2020 through 2022 Model Y SUVs.