Norway may have the most aggressive collection of electric car incentives of any country. Not only are electric cars and plug-in hybrids exempt from most taxes at the time of purchase, they qualify for reduced tolls on the nation’s highways, lower fares on its many ferries, and free parking in most cities. Charging infrastructure is also well quite robust. Although there is always room for improvement, there are more public chargers available for EV drivers than in most other European nations.
The combination works. Last month, 13,484 new passenger cars were registered in Norway. 29% of them were EVs. The numbers by manufacturer break down like this:
1. Volkswagen: 2.083 (- 0.0 percent)
2. Tesla: 2.003 (+ 136.2 percent)
3. Toyota: 1,355 (- 25.7 percent)
4. Volvo: 960 (+ 25.8 percent)
5. BMW: 872 (- 26.9 percent)
The numbers for Tesla are astounding. Almost 900 were registered in the last week of September alone! Sales of the Model S (1,007) were up more than 300 percent from the same month last year. Model X deliveries totaled 996, a 66 percent increase. The next largest manufacturer to score big in the electric car sales race was Volkswagen with 1.367 E-Golf sales, up 37 percent from last year.
“This is a development we have expected. Norwegians want big cars that are suitable for cabins and accommodate the whole family. Half of the car sales in Norway are large and medium-sized cars, and only Tesla offers electric car models of this size today. For many, this will still be the only electric car on the market that meets your needs for a while,” says Christina Bu, General Secretary of the Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association.
The increase in EV sales is matched by a nearly 25 percent decline in sales of diesel powered cars. That’s good news for Norway’s air quality. “The decline contributes to historically low emissions,” Bu says. “This is the right way. We know that Tesla has delivered an extra lot of cars this month, but at the same time there are also several who see that time is now ripe for switching to electric cars. We see the start of a mass market, but are still a little behind the necessary development to reach the goal of just selling zero-emission cars by 2025. ”
When Bu says the country is a little bit behind, she is talking about charging infrastructure. In Oslo, a new plan will add 600 public chargers and target more chargers for people who live in apartment or condominium buildings. Today there are about 22,500 electric cars in Oslo. That number is expected to grow to 40,000 by 2020.
The European Union suggests there should be one charger for every 10 EVs on the road. “The most important thing now is that the development of available chargers keeps pace with the sharp increase in the number of electric cars,” says Christina Bu. The city of Oslo plans to have 1,500 Level 2 chargers and another 520 higher power (22 kW) chargers in operation by next year.
“It’s a good start, but it’s not enough in the long run for what’s going to be a historic shift for road transport in the city,” Bu says. “It is also vital that the municipality collaborates with commercial actors to build more quick chargers. The public can not finance all charging infrastructure alone, and we rely on growing a commercial market that provides for the volume and spread of charging services throughout the country.”
Drivers in Oslo and other cities are beginning to experience lines of other cars waiting to access the available chargers, a situation that is further driving the push to expand the EV charging infrastructure in Norway.
Hat Tip to Are Hansen and Lief Hansen, who are not brothers, so far as we know!
Photo credit: Norsk Elbilforening