Norway powers ahead (electrically): over half new car sales now electric or hybrid

FILE PHOTO - An electric car is charged at a parking lot in Oslo
FILE PHOTO - An electric car is charged at a parking lot in Oslo, Norway, June 1, 2017. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

January 3, 2018

By Camilla Knudsen and Alister Doyle

OSLO (Reuters) – Sales of electric and hybrid cars rose above half of new registrations in Norway in 2017, a record aided by generous subsidies that extended the country’s lead in shifting from fossil-fuel engines, data showed on Wednesday.

Pure electric cars and hybrids, which have both battery power and a diesel or petrol motor, accounted for 52 percent of all new car sales last year in Norway against 40 percent in 2016, the independent Norwegian Road Federation (OFV) said.

“No one else is close” in terms of a national share of electric cars, OFV chief Oeyvind Solberg Thorsen said. “For the first time we have a fossil-fuel market share below 50 percent.”

Norway exempts new electric cars from almost all taxes and grants perks that can be worth thousands of dollars a year in terms of free or subsidized parking, re-charging and use of toll roads, ferries and tunnels.

It also generates almost all its electricity from hydropower, so the shift helps to reduce air pollution and climate change.

Last year, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said Norway was far ahead of other nations such as the Netherlands, Sweden, China, France and Britain in electric car sales.

By the IEA yardstick, which excludes hybrid cars with only a small electric motor that cannot be plugged in, electric car sales in Norway rose to 39 percent in 2017 from 29 in 2016, when the Netherlands was in second on 6.4 percent.

Norwegian car sales in 2017 were topped by the Volkswagen Golf <VOWG_p.DE>, BMWi3 <BMWG.DE>, Toyota Rav4 <7203.T> and Tesla Model X <TSLA.O>. The Tesla is pure electric and others have electric or hybrid versions.

In many countries, high prices of battery-driven cars, limited ranges between recharging and long charging times discourage buyers. Car makers say the disadvantages are dwindling over time with new models.

“We view Norway as a role model for how electric mobility can be promoted through smart incentives,” a spokesman at BMW’s Munich HQ said. “The situation would probably be different if these incentives were dropped.”

Other “good examples” of policies to spur electric-car demand include Britain, California and the Netherlands, he said.


Last year, Norway’s parliament set a non-binding goal that by 2025 all cars sold should be zero emissions. Among other nations, France and Britain plan to ban sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.

Christina Bu, head of the Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association which represents owners, said the 2025 goal meant that Norway should stick with its incentives for electric cars.

“It’s an ambitious goal only seven years away,” she told Reuters. Overall, sales of zero emissions cars in Norway rose in 2017 to 21 percent from 16 in 2016.

Electric cars have widespread support among Norway’s 5.3 million people. A plan last year by the right-wing government to trim electric car incentives, dubbed a “Tesla Tax”, was dropped in negotiations on the 2018 budget.

Sales of diesel cars fell most in 2017, to 23 percent from 31 in 2016. Some regions in Norway have started to charge higher road tolls for diesel cars than for petrol-driven vehicles.

Norway’s electric car policies are hard to imitate. Norway can be generous because high revenues from oil and gas production have helped it amass the world’s biggest sovereign wealth fund, worth $1 trillion.

Illustrating the supportive benefits, a Volkswagen e-Golf electric car sells for 262,000 crowns ($32,300) in Norway, just fractionally above the import price of 260,000, according to the Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association.

But a comparable gasoline-powered Golf, which costs just 180,000 crowns to import, ends up selling for 298,000 crowns after charges including value added tax, carbon tax, and another tax based on the weight of the vehicle.

Even in Norway, the benefits strain finances. Norway’s 1.3 trillion Norwegian crown budget projects a loss of tax revenues of 3 billion crowns a year because of electric cars.

($1 = 8.1026 Norwegian crowns)

(Reporting By Alister Doyle and Camilla Knudsen in Oslo, Andreas Cremer in Berlin, Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)

  • BillVA

    Gee, I guess there is no goal so lofty that an infinite amount of money can’t achieve it.

  • disqus_D87XRi0Gy7

    Better them than us, there will never be a power plant more efficient or cheaper than the combustion engine, if there was then they would have invented it a hundred years ago when electricity was more important than combustion engines. This is all about raping a national economy by a few people spreading more manure than fact. When you have to pay a ransom to replace a battery you need to rethink your brain functions, they already managed to get that useless over priced battery into all the new cars saying it is safer, they didn’t tell you it cost ten times more did they … Don’t ever think all these stories of how grand something is until you fully understand how much it cost. The US is not a nation that will use electric cars, now if you happen to be one of those Hollywood morons who have more money than brains I’m sure cost is not important.

    • TBird

      Not only is money not important (hollywood) but getting “THERE” isn’t either.

  • Al Robins

    “Norway’s electric car policies are hard to imitate. Norway can be generous because high revenues from oil and gas production have helped it amass the world’s biggest sovereign wealth fund, worth $1 trillion.”

    Look at what happens when you take advantage of your country’s resources and actually grow your economy and don’t throw money away on people who are not even citizens of your country. You don’t just squander away your country’s wealth for an unproven technology, but you gradually grow it AND you don’t throw money away on people who are not legal citizens. You invent in the legal residents of your country because THEY are responsible for economic growth. I am so glad we no longer have a Democrat in charge of the country and we have President Trump who is actually growing our economy and caring for its people. It is hard to buy electric, hybrid or anything when you have no job or no money to spend.

    Now if we can just QUICKLY get rid of Gerry Brown and get a Republican governor who understands business like Travis Allen so the true potential of the CA economy can be unleashed. Gerry Brown is destroying our state with his push at every turn to be a sanctuary state which, BTW was NEVER voted on by the people. 🙁 #Blacks4Trump

  • James Nilsson

    When I travel an unknown route with few gas stations, I carry a jerry can of fuel. Just in case. With an EV and sparse charging stations, do I carry a spare battery ?

    • TBird

      The answer is you don’t go. Early in the obama administration one of his staff, I don’t recall who, said how can we get people to stay in one place?

  • Varangian Guard

    They provide tax breaks now, but wait for it……………..since they will be losing ALL the money they make from oil tax at the pump they will recoup the losses somehow. That will be to tax the schitt out of the e-cars.
    There is a reason Henry Ford abandoned this tech a century ago.

  • Lord Cornbread

    Cars without heat. Brilliant.

  • Impaler

    The automotive safety administration will not allow this here and make up reasons to ban them. Washington will also never allow it or give tax cuts and benefits,because the senators,governors and other “officials” would have more difficulties hiding their embezzling and misuse of public funds for first class travel and first class salaries and benefits, $100,000 remodels of their offices, free government vehicles and gas and so on.

  • Sheriff Bart

    people freak out when their phones run low or out of power, can you imagine their cars. No thanks

  • Mountainhiker

    Just look at Norway on the map and the US on the map and the SIZE difference alone should cause you to grasp that this kind of insanity would never work in the US and may well not work there once they stop the government from giving the FREE recharging. Socialism, great until it runs out of other peoples money.

    • weasel1886

      Norway has tons of oil money that is saved for the future

    • TBird

      when you have to get to the other side of the postage stamp it takes VOLTS!

  • Mountainhiker

    I see a REAL problem here “Norway’s 1.3 trillion Norwegian crown budget projects a loss of tax
    revenues of 3 billion crowns a year because of electric cars.” and “Norway exempts new electric cars from almost all taxes and grants perks that can
    be worth thousands of dollars a year in terms of free or subsidized parking,
    re-charging and use of toll roads, ferries and tunnels.” in other words, the government is PAYING people to use electric cars. No, in reality the the taxpayers are paying a huge extra tax to drive these cars. Clearly not sustainable in the long run..

    • Impaler

      LOL,ok, you’re either a troll for an oil company,or for the US government trying to convince people this is a very bad idea by pumping your false propaganda into their brains. Good old fashion communist tactics at their finest. It’s obvious,because you’re completely against people saving money and getting tax discounts. If people want an electric car,they can get one if they dam well please and there are HUGE benefits for them and the environment. Help people! Do something GOOD for people. YOU are against it. COMMUNIST.

      • turnipweed

        You obviously don’t understand physics and economics. In both disciplines, nothing is free. That money you and your idiot friends “save” is coming out of the pockets of hard working people.

      • Mountainhiker

        Sounds like you are the communist/ socialist, nothing is FREE, that FREE recharging is coming from the taxpayers pockets. At some point, the FREE recharging is going to vanish and the REAL cost of owning one of these cars is going to hit. Here in the states the problem of lack of recharging stations is the problem so people have to suck up the recharging cost on their home electric bills. As a result, people bought ONE found out how much it REALLY cost and also own a gas. The battery science has not caught up to extend the driving range, have to hope, but not there yet.. .

  • Chkitout1

    Norwegians have definitely had an impact on this “global warming” with their electric cars. I’m freezing my butt off in Washington DC.

    • turnipweed

      Yes, whatever they are doing, they need to stop. My fuel bill is going to be astronomical.

    • BillVA

      I moved to Central VA from Northern VA a while ago, and it was -4° here the other night.

      I’m boycotting Kipper Snacks until they stop it.

  • a voice of concern

    Hydroelectric is great to recharge the batteries and unlike stupid wind mills or solar panels works 24/7 but the tree huggers have blocked the construction of hydro in the USA for over 50 years.
    LNG is great and Toyota tried to market cars over 20 years ago ( I tried to buy one) but the government has blocked the sale because they were afraid of losing road tax revenue when everyone just made their own LNG at home.
    The only logical solution is to ban the government from making these decisions for us. remove all incentives and all taxes and all regulations and whatever is the most economical will be the most sustainable and we will have dozens of choices to fuel independent transportation devices.

    • Mountainhiker

      Lets face it when you exempt these cars for taxes, you have to get the road use taxes from another tax someplace else, liberal insanity at its best.

  • Joe Nobama

    How do the electric cars hold up in extreme cold? Is the radius of travel on a full battery charge reduced? How much energy is used just heating the car. What is the source of electricity, windmills or coal?

    • weasel1886

      They have vast hydro electric power

    • turnipweed

      Good call. Batteries of all types are much less efficient in cold weather. One thing seldom thought of is tires. On short commutes, mileage goes way down because cold tires have much higher rolling resistance. Your worst nightmare is getting stuck in the middle of nowhere at zero degrees in a government vehicle. “Government vehicles” is what everyone should call electric vehicles.

    • Varangian Guard

      Even if they function fine, the cold will reduce the effective lifespan of the battery. Disposal and replacement is very expensive. This is among some of the other cost prohibitive traits of this type of vehicle.

    • gabriel

      Im wonder the info in web about from where heating energy… come, battery or else.

  • Bloomquist

    So 5 out of the 10 cars sold were electric or hybrid. So much is missing from this article. Is Norway even considered a player in the car market? Things like that make a difference when pushing the green agenda.

    • turnipweed

      Ironically, the Norsk government is so oppressive to manufacturing, they have to import their electric vehicles.