The Audi e-tron was the most popular electric vehicle for March in Norway, where more than seven out of ten new cars sold were either battery electric (BEV) or plug-in hybrid (PHEV).
Electric vehicle sales reached nearly 7,000 in March, according to numbers released today by EV Sales, of which 1,681 were the Audi e-tron SUV (which is expected to arrive in the third quarter of 2020 in Australia). It took Norway’s total EV sales to nearly 300,000.
It was not Norway’s best month for EV sales however – that accolade was claimed by March 2019 when the Tesla Model 3 arrived on Scandinavian soil to fill a long wait list of reservation holders. That month, Model 3s alone accounted for 5,315 sales, according to EV Sales.
While the Audi e-tron has now pulled ahead of the Tesla Model 3 in monthly totals, the Model 3 still remains a popular choice for Norwegians with 997 delivered in March, although the calendar year-to-date numbers (1,216) put it at number 5 after the VW-e-Golf (1,902), Nissan Leaf (1,368) and Hyundai Kona Electric ((1,252).
All in all, battery electric vehicles now account for 56% of the Norwegian market against a backdrop of falling petrol and diesel sales which suffered a 45% decline compared to March 2019 and a 35% decline quarter to quarter.
While the strong electric car sales against the wider auto market slump is encouraging, secretary general of the Norwegian Electric Car Association Christina Bu says it is too early to tell if the Coronavirus pandemic will also affect EV sales.
“The fact that the electric car share in new car sales continues to rise is a preliminary glad news,” Bu said via the Norwegian Electric Car Association website.
“It is good for the car industry and the environment. It is too early to say how the corona pandemic will affect sales of new electric cars in the future. We know more when April is over,” she says (translated from Norwegian).
She does not believe the slump in fossil fuel vehicles sales can be attributed to the pandemic, but rather tightening vehicle emission standards in the EU.
However, the economic pressure caused by the Coronavirus pandemic has brought forth calls from European auto lobby groups to postpone of tightening restriction on CO2 emissions.
This in turn has drawn criticism from European clean transport lobby group Transport & Environment.
“While the overall economic recovery is crucial, we shouldn’t let some opportunistic carmakers use the crisis to shamelessly roll back the EU climate targets for car,” said Julia Poliscanova, clean vehicle director for T&E in a statement.
Bu says the government should continue support for the transition, such as turning car parks into charging stations. This would not only create jobs and add value for the environment in the long-term, but also create more confidence in consumers to switch to electric vehicles.
“Development of charging infrastructure is a great way to get green speed in a crisis-hit economy quickly,” Bu says. “More people will be able to choose an electric car and it keeps people with technical expertise at work.”
The Electric Car Association proposes that NOK 250 million ($A37.8 million) be put towards a scheme to install Ev chargers in the country’s 14,000 housing cooperatives, and another NOK 50 million ($A7.5 million) to install rapid-chargers in areas that are not deemed commercially profitable.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.