There is something about Scandinavian that makes it especially conducive to electric cars, and Elon Musk knows it. The Tesla Model S has topped the sales charts in Norway, outselling even the beloved Volkswagen Golf to become the best-selling car in this very cold country.
The Tesla Model S only began European sales in August, opening a distribution center in Holland, and in September the electric sedan commanded 5.1% of the Norwegian car market. Granted, the country of 5 million people only bought 138,000 new cars in 2012, as buying a car is notoriously expensive due to heavy taxes on emissions and fuel consumption.
So even with a starting price of $110,000 to $117,000 in Norway, the Tesla Model S actually represents a performance bargain. Similarly powerful vehicles can cost upwards of $200,000 in Norway or more; a 556 horsepower BMW M5 costs almost $160,000 just in taxes, with the total price near $300,000.
That doesn’t take into account the free tolls and ferries electric car owners are granted, as well as their ability to drive in bus lanes. This is why the Nissan Leaf shot up the sales charts when it went on sale in Norway, and why well-heeled Norwegians are paying up to $20,000 over MSRP to avoid the five-month wait time for a Tesla Model S. With an extensive Supercharger network installed across Norway, and proof the Model S has no problem with the cold Scandinavian winters, there are plenty of incentives to buy a Model S. It is estimated that there are already more than 500 Tesla Model S sedans on the road in Norway.
While sales will eventually taper off, and there may come a day free tolls and ferries are no longer offered, right now electric cars are a hot commodity. The Nissan Leaf has garnered plenty of sales too, commanding 3.8% of Norway’s car market in August of this year, meaning two of Norway’s three best-selling cars are EVs; what can the U.S. learn from them?
Basically, if you want people to really choose electric cars like, right now, you have to bribe/extort them. Otherwise you just have to wait for the virtues of EVs to naturally (slowly) convert the population.