Norway: electric vehicles lead the car market
4th February 2014
In Norway, electric vehicles are out-selling conventional cars, giving the country the world's highest rate of EV ownership, writes Sophie Morlin-Yron.
By the end of February we expect to be the first country in the world where 1 in 100 cars on the road are electric.
Norwegians are buying more electric vehicles (EVs) than conventionally fuelled models. More than 1,200 EVs are now being sold every month in Norway
And in the last three months of 2013 two EVs - the electric sports car Tesla Model S and the family electric Nissan Leaf - outsold all other cars.
Norway, a Scandinavian country of 5 million people, currently has around 21,000 electric vehicles (EVs) on its roads - giving it the world's largest per capita EV ownership.
This compares to 70,000 EVs among 313 million Americans and only 5,000 among 63 million Britons.
Aiming for 1% penetration
"A boatload of Nissan Leafs arrives in Norway each week and is sold almost immediately", said Snorre Sletvold, president of the Norwegian electric vehicle association.
"It is astonishing. We did not expect this. Electric cars started as an Oslo phenomenon but they are now selling all over Norway.
"By the end of February we expect to be the first country in the world where 1 in 100 cars on the road are electric."
Government incentives driving the boom
Along with environmental concerns, Norwegians are also taking advantage of generous government incentives, estimated to amount to £5,000 per vehicle.
These include free electricity for recharging, reduced VAT rates, waived tolls, free parking, insurance discounts, and the chance of avoiding queues - the EVs are allowed to use bus lanes.
"You can buy a Nissan leaf for 280,000 NOK ($44,400) which compares with 300,000 (£47,600) for a VW Golf.
"Over 10,000 km, it costs about 1,800 Nok ($285) to run, but the same for a petrol car would be 8,000 Nok ($1,270). On top of that I save save 35Nok ($5.50) a day on tolls but some people are saving far more."
Incentives to roll back once 50,000 cars sold
Dealers expect there to be more EVs in Oslo than in Los Angeles and San Francisco combined within a year.
But the governmental incentives will not go on forever. Once 50,000 EVs are bought, likely to happen by the end of 2015, the government will roll back the scope and scale of the incentives.
Sophie Morlin-Yron is a freelance journalist.
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