Last year, the auto world watched Tesla CEO Elon Musk carry out a very public feud with New York Times writer John Broder, who'd published a damning story about his travels in a Tesla Model S. Musk claimed that negative publicity generated by the piece cost Tesla $100 million in revenue.
Among other things, Broder's article suggested that cold weather adversely affected the battery in the Model S, drastically reducing its driving range. (It's an issue that had been raised before.) But one Norwegian man wants to set the record straight.
That man is Jens Kratholm, an ophthalmologist who lives in the town of Narvik, some 136 miles north of the Arctic Circle. The average temperature there is 39 degrees Fahrenheit. If electric car batteries fare poorly in chilly temps, Narvik would be a bad place to own a Tesla.
And yet, Kratholm owns a Tesla Model S. He also owns six Tesla Roadsters. Yes: six. According to a post on the Tesla Motors blog, Kratholm owns more Teslas than anyone else on Planet Earth.
He ordered his first Roadster sight-unseen from a dealership in Denmark -- much to the chagrin of his wife, Ellen Røsnes, who is a self-proclaimed car nut and longtime Mercedes-Benz fan. Røsnes chided Kratholm, saying "Are you crazy? This car doesn’t have an engine! It’s just a play car."
As you might've guessed, Røsnes was quickly hooked by the Roadster's handling, especially in icy conditions. The family's collection grew, until the couple had enough Teslas to share with their children when they came home for visits.
To Kratholm, Tesla's biggest selling point is its performance in cold weather:
"We found out that [the Tesla is] a super winter car,” says Jens. 'It’s so fantastic. It’s much easier and better than an ordinary car.' He likes that you can heat the Model S remotely via an app, so that there’s no ice or snow on the car when you’re ready to drive it. He also says the winter range is almost the same as the summer range. In December, he and Røsnes took the Model S to an ice hotel in Sweden, 200km from Narvik. The temperature dropped to -40 degrees Celsius. It was so cold that the trains couldn’t operate and the diesel in the buses froze. But the Model S was just fine."
Kratholm is the kind of superfan that CEOs dream about. He and his family are passionate about Tesla products, so it's not surprising that Tesla ran a post about them on its corporate blog.
That being said, it would be hard to imagine that the family's claims are fabricated, or that Kratholm would continue buying Teslas if they performed poorly in Narvik's harsh winter weather.
Bottom line: there's a lot more research to be done on electric car batteries, their strengths, and their shortcomings, particularly in extreme temps. At the very least, however, Kratholm's family show that Teslas are viable vehicles, even for folks living north of the Arctic Circle. At best, they suggest that Broder's reports were either misguided or inaccurate.