Amidst almost universal accolades for the Tesla Model S, an environmental minister for the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia has done the unthinkable. He has returned the Model S he used for official business, claiming it has several drawbacks that make it unsuitable for everyday driving.
The minister, Johannes Remmel, is a member of the eco-friendly Green Party. He selected the Model S as his personal car for government business because he wanted to find out for himself what driving an electric car was really like. But after just 43 trips, he returned it the government fleet operator. It should be noted that Remmel is now the former environmental minister for Germany’s most populous state, having been turned out of office by the voters. Whether his decision to ditch the Model S influenced the electorate is unknown. Let’s just say his karma was bad and leave it at that.
According to information revealed as the result of a freedom of information request, Remmel acknowledged that the performance of the Model S exceeded that of its nearest competitors. Nevertheless, he deemed it “ill suited” for the trips he was required to make to fulfill his official duties. Most of his unhappiness centered on the car’s range, the unavailability of suitable recharging infrastructure within North Rhine-Westphalia, and the time required to replenish the battery while away from the office.
Remmel complained the range of the Model S was far less than the 500 kilometers certified by the European Union. In fact, his car had difficulty going 400 kilometers without needing recharging. When depleted, it often took 90 minutes to return the battery to a 100% state of charge using the equipment available to him. The upshot was, he felt constrained to never drive more than 150 kilometers from his office in order to make sure he could get back to his starting point without wasting valuable time charging along the way. Holy range anxiety, Batman!
But lack of range and long charging times were not the only things Remmel found wrong with the Model S. He also slammed the car for its lack of refinement. “When it comes to comfort as well as the ability to perform work, the rear bank of seats leave much to be desired for a sedan of its class,” he wrote.
If he thought the Model S was smallish on the inside, one can only imagine how he felt about the other electric cars available to him, such as the BMW i3 and the Nissan LEAF. Remmel was voted out of office in May. The new environment minister has selected a Mercedes S 500 plug-in hybrid to ride in while on official business.
It’s easy to poke fun at Remmel for rejecting a car that many people would be delighted to ride around in, but his complaints do shine a light on an issue that will be critical to the widespread adoption of electric cars — charging infrastructure.
Tesla has stepped up to the plate in a big way with its network of Supercharger locations, but even its heroic efforts still leave large parts of the world not adjacent to major travel routes underserved. The rest of the auto manufacturers have no answer for the Supercharger network, even though they are all promising to have flotillas of electric cars available to the public in a few years time. Unless and until the charging infrastructure issue is resolved, the electric car revolution will be going nowhere fast.
Source: Automotive News via AutoWeek