New Tesla Superchargers blocked by union efforts in Sweden: report

(Credit: Tesla Charging)

Tesla Sweden is seemingly facing its toughest challenge yet in its ongoing conflict with trade union IF Metall. As per recent reports, sympathy strikes from the Swedish Union for Service and Communications Employees (Seko) and the Electricians Union have successfully put a stop to Tesla Sweden’s expansion of its Supercharger Network. 

As per a report from Dagens Arbete (DA), Tesla Sweden currently has plans to build about 35 new Supercharger stations in the coming years, from Malmö in the south to Kiruna in the north. This 2024, the electric vehicle maker has been planning to open 20 new Supercharger sites. These plans appear to have been put on hold for now since Seko’s members have stopped connecting Tesla’s Superchargers to local power grids. Seko announced on March 4 that its members will no longer connect Tesla Superchargers to the local power grid, and on March 20, 2024, the Electricians Union expanded its sympathy strike to include new Tesla Supercharger installations. 

Janne Halvarsson, group manager at Seko Mellannorrland, stated that he was recently at a new Tesla Supercharger site just north of Sundsvall. As per Halvarsson, the Sundsvall site will probably be the last new Tesla Supercharger for some time, or at least until Tesla Sweden and IF Metall resolve their conflict. “It was connected the week before our blockade started. We had full control of it. I was there myself to see that everything went right,” he said. 

IF Metall and its allies have initiated a number of efforts designed to disrupt and stop Tesla Sweden, but the electric vehicle maker has so far been able to bypass the groups’ strikes and blockades. Halvarsson, however, noted that Tesla Sweden will likely find it much harder to deal with the unions’ initiatives against its Supercharger Network. As per Dagens Arbete, the electricity grids are run as local monopolies in Sweden. For example, in Sundsvall, where Tesla’s possible last Supercharger was activated, Sundsvall Elnät AB owns the power infrastructure.

Thus, there is usually only one power grid owner in each geographical area, and only these electricity grid owners are permitted to connect an installation like a Tesla Supercharger to the grid. If the network owner happens to have a collective agreement with Seko, then it would likely deny power to new Tesla Supercharger stations in their respective areas. “I see it as an impossibility to complete this. The signing of collective agreements among the electricity network companies is high. Many of the companies are owned by the municipalities and there are usually collective agreements,” Halvarsson said. 

Ann-Charlotte Kling, chairman of Seko Södra, stated that such a scenario has already happened to a Tesla Supercharger in Ljungby in Småland. The Ljungby Tesla Supercharger site features 20 stalls and is ready for activation, but it has not been connected to the grid yet. “The cables are buried, but there is no electricity in them. And there will be no current in them as long as this conflict continues. They simply will not be connected to the electricity grid,” Kling said. 

The local electricity company in the area, Ljungby Energi, has confirmed that it is not providing power to the Tesla Supercharger site due to the ongoing conflict between the EV maker and IF Metall. Network manager Jan Olsson described the situation as follows. “The cable is not connected either at their end or in our cables. It will be like this as long as the conflict lasts. Our electricians are connected to Seko,” Olsson noted. 

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Simon Alvarez: Simon is a reporter with a passion for electric cars and clean energy. Fascinated by the world envisioned by Elon Musk, he hopes to make it to Mars (at least as a tourist) someday.
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