Norway denies holding up Tesla move to improve service

FILE PHOTO: A 2018 Tesla Model 3 electric vehicle is shown in this photo illustration taken in Cardiff, California, U.S., June 1, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway has rejected a suggestion it is holding up Tesla's TSLA.O efforts to improve service in its third-biggest market, saying the electric carmaker has not yet applied to use the mobile service vans it says it needs to solve its problems.

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk last week blamed a wait for government approval in Norway, its biggest market after the United States and China, for not being able to move faster in addressing growing complaints from consumers.

The Norwegian Consumer Council said on July 4 Tesla had climbed to fourth place in the first six months of 2018 in the list of companies Norwegians complain about the most, up from 24th in 2017.

Musk tweeted in response: “Norwegians are right to be upset with Tesla. We are having trouble expanding our service facilities in Oslo especially. Can solve quickly with Tesla mobile service vans, but awaiting govt permission to do so.”

But Norway’s public roads authority said it had not yet seen a formal application from the company.

“Tesla Norway has recently been in a dialogue with the Norwegian Public Roads Administration (NPRA) about regulations for allowing workshops or the possibility of so-called ‘mobile service vans’,” The Norwegian transport ministry said in a statement to Reuters late on Friday.

“The NPRA gave its answer on June 1, explained the rules that are valid and that they would welcome a potential application from Tesla Norway to allow mobile service vans. The NPRA has for the moment not received, as of today, such an application.”

Tesla Norway said media queries should be handled by its European press office, which was not immediately available for comment.

In 2017 sales of electric and hybrid cars accounted for more than half of new registrations in Norway, a record aided by generous subsidies.

Editing by Gwladys Fouche and Mark Potter