One in two car sales in Norway are still electric, while sales of new petrol/diesel car are down by 60%, according to figures from the Norwegian Road Traffic Information Office (OFV).
The Norwegian market has led the way in the transition to electric vehicles and is the largest market, globally, for EVs by share.
Norway’s success in encouraging drivers to switch to clean, zero-emissions transport has led Chinese EV maker BYD to choose it for the first release of its Tang EV600, as it dips its toe into the potentially lucrative European car market.
Currently in Norway the best selling electric car is the Audi e-tron, followed by VW e-Golf, Nissan Leaf, the Hyundai Kona EV and the Tesla Model 3.
In April however, the total number of new car sales decreased by 34% compared to April 2019. Despite this, electric cars maintained a solid market share for the month, at 49.4% with 3,670 units sold compared to 7,425 across the market, bringing the year-to-date market share to 50.3%. Overall, electric and plug-in hybrids accounts for 70% of the entire Norwegian fleet.
While petrol and diesel car sales were down 65.7% and 57.4% respectively for the month of April compared to the same period in 2019, electric cars only suffered a 17.6% drop in sales.
Notably, plug-in hybrids rose by 31.2% compared to April 2019.
“The market share of electric cars and rechargeable hybrids now stands at 70 percent, and has never been higher. This clearly shows that the flow of electric cars and rechargeable hybrids will continue to increase and that the transition to new technology will influence car sales going forward,” said Øyvind Solberg Thorsen, director of the OFV in a statement (translated from Norwegian).
In March, Thorsen said it was too early to tell how much of the decline in sales was due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Much indicates that there has been a decline in contracts for many car dealers, and there is reason to believe that the number of deliveries in the coming months will fall,” said Thorsen at the time in a statement.
“It is too early to explain the fluctuations in new car sales in March with the Corona situation. We will first see the effect of that in the next couple of months.”
Now, Thorsen admits that the Covid-19 pandemic may be contributing to the drop in sales. “The fact that car sales went down in April shows a clear effect of lower activity in the Norwegian economy. The corona situation can be one of the causes,” he says, adding that the week-and-a-half Norwegian Easter break in April also contributed to a decline in registrations.
However, Christina Bu, secretary-general of the Norwegian Electric Car Association, says the April figures are still a disappointing result for all-electric vehicles.
“2020 was going to be the big electric car year, but after an uplifting start, the corona crisis has put a sharp blow in the market for new electric cars as well,” Bu said in a statement.
“Fortunately, there are positive signals about the reopening of factories in Europe, and that electric car production is prioritised,” says Bu.
Bu believes that two things are especially important for Norway to reach its target of selling only emission-free cars by 2025.
“Now it is important for politicians to ensure that people continue to buy electric cars. The crisis packages in Europe and Norway must not stop the positive development for electric cars, but there are no signals yet. Furthermore, building charging infrastructure can accelerate a crisis-hit economy,” says Bu.
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.