Thanks to generous government incentives and nationwide perks like free parking and the ability to legally use the bus lane, Norway really loves its electric cars.
In September, the Tesla Model S sedan — sales of which only started in Norway in August — topped 616 cars, making it the highest-selling passenger car of September.
According to official new car registration data from Norway, Nissan sold 716 LEAFs during October, accounting for a total new car market share of 5.6 percent, beating every other car on the market.
In close second came the Toyota Auris, with 679 sales in October, followed by the Volkswagen Golf, with 646 sales. Meanwhile, only 98 Tesla Model S cars were registered, a tiny fraction of its previous months’ sales figures.
Lessons to learn
Here at TransportEvolved, we’re pleased to see electric cars dominating the sales figures in Norway for two months in a row. In fact, total plug-in sales during the month of October accounted for 7.2 percent of all new car registrations, up from 3.4 percent last year.
But in congratulating Norway, it’s worth understanding how and why electric cars really are so popular over there, when other European countries — especially the UK — are struggling so much to encourage EV adoption.
First, Norway has a sales tax which actively discourages people from buying large, gas-guzzling vehicles. When you buy a new car in Norway, the tax you pay is proportional to how efficient and environmentally friendly your car is. Buy a small, economical hatchback, and you pay a fairly small sales tax. Buy a large, powerful SUV with a V8 and single-digit economy, and you’ll pay up to 100 percent sales tax.
EVs, meanwhile, are exempt from any sales tax.
Second, by offering commuters the chance to drive in the bus lanes for free — as well as providing free parking and charging — Norway makes owning an EV a way to save time and money on the morning commute. We’re not sure about you, but if we lived in a cold, frigid winter wonderland, we’d want to do everything we could to spend an extra few minutes in bed every morning.
Finally, and leaving the flippancy behind, Norway produces almost all of its electricity from hydroelectric power plants. This makes electric car ownership in Norway clean — and cheap.
…So what about Tesla?
We know what you’re thinking: why did Tesla sell so many cars in September, but so few in October? While we don’t have any official reasons as yet, here’s what we think happened:
Like any new market, sales of the Model S were artificially high in September as supply outstripped demand. Since Tesla only started Norwegian deliveries in August, we suspect the first shipment of cars into Norway contained vehicles which owners had reserved months — maybe even years — earlier. October’s sales figures meanwhile, account for the few remaining cars from the original shipment, and we presume Norway now has to wait for another shipment of cars before sales pick up again.
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