In the world’s most successful electric car market, Norway, more half of all new cars sold are now zero or low emissions, and powered by electric drivetrains.
According to the Norwegian Road Federation (OFV), 58.4% of all new cars sold in Norway in the month of March were electric, with battery electric vehicles (BEV) and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV) accounting for 48.4% of all cars sold in the Scandinavian country in the first quarter of 2019.
For Norwegian automaker selling EVs, as they are known, the competition for sales is now heating up, since the arrival of the best-selling Tesla Model 3 electric sedan.
To date, the country’s most popular electric car has been the Nissan Leaf, which accounts for almost a quarter of all EVs on the road in Norway when another milestone – 200,000 EVs registered – was reached in January.
The next most popular electric car models in the Scandinavian country are the Volkswagen e-Golf (around 30,000 units total), the BMW i3 (around 20,000 units total), and the Tesla Model S, the Model 3’s more expensive cousin (also around 20,000 units total).
But since the Tesla Model 3 arrived in Norway in late January, it has made its mark, even before the cheapest version, the Model 3 Standard Range, comes on to the market.
In March alone, 5,315 Model 3s were registered (noting the statistics below have since been updated) – a record for monthly sales in Norway for any vehicle, and amounting in one month to one quarter of all BMW i3 or Tesla Model S vehicles sold in total.
Norway’s commitment to transitioning to electric mobility is paying off – a range of fiscal and financial incentives have encouraged Norwegians to make the shift to electric cars that could be instructive for Australia, where the Labor Party is proposing an EV target of 50% share of new car sales by 2030.
By bringing down the cost of EVs – by exempting them from the 25% GST among other measures – brings the upfront cost of EVs down to petrol and diesel cars, and the consumers – lured by lower operating costs and a great driving experience – do the rest.
By comparison, Europe’s next most successful country for EVs by market share is Iceland, where nearly 20% of newly registered vehicles were electric in 2018, followed by Sweden at around 8%.
“Norway has every reason to be proud of breaking more BEV records. The BEV policy is working so well that the larger part of consumers opt for a BEV when buying a new car,” said Secretary General Christina Bu of the Norwegian EV Association in a statement.
“Norway shows the whole world that fully electric cars can replace petrol and diesel cars and become an important contribution to combat CO2 emissions, as well as relieving local air from other harmful gases caused by burning fossil fuels”, Bu said.
The transition to electric vehicles in the country has been effective; the OFV reported in October 2018 that CO2 emissions from all new passengers cars in Norway reached a record low of 55 g/km, a reduction of 16 g/km from 71 g/km in September 2017.
Norway’s target for 100% of all new vehicle sales to be electric, and thus passenger transport emissions to account for zero, is 2025 – and although the Norwegian EV Association suspects EV market share will remain at 50% for the time being, Bu says that a growing secondhand market is also of importance.
“The fresh BEV records are also good news for the used car market, as ever more cars become available at reasonable price levels,” says Bu.
“We are now aiming for 1.2 million BEVs on Norwegian roads by 2025, which is a little more than five times today’s number”, says Bu.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.