Norwegians are buying a lot of Nissan Leaf vehicles and have the most Tesla Model S reservations in the European market. While the US is a major market for electric vehicles, the sales numbers are proportionally huge for Norwegians. US electric vehicle sales look to be close to 50,000 for plug-in electric vehicles for all of 2012. According to Treehugger, that number reached about 10,000 units sold in Norway during 2012.

Norway's population is about 4,952,000, according to World Bank, and the US population is about 315,107,000, based on US Census data. While electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids make up only about 0.6 percent of new vehicle sales in the US, they're reaching 5.2 percent in Norway. How did plug-in electric vehicles become so popular in that country?

The short answer is price. In most countries, EVs tend to cost a good deal more than internal combustion engine cars. But, in a nation where high car taxes are the norm, the Norwegian government doesn't levy import taxes on EVs. The competitive pricing has helped the Nissan Leaf become 13th best selling vehicle in Norway. The country also has a long history with EVs, and it's common to see Revas, Kewet Buddies and many other EVs on the streets of Oslo, the capitol.

Government incentives are also increasing EV appeal with Norwegian consumers. In Oslo, EVs can drive down the bus lane, cutting commute time down significantly during rush-hour traffic. Other perks include free parking in city spaces and avoiding congestion charges that other car owners are subject to. The infrastructure is appealing, too – there are 3,500 charging posts and 100 fast-charging stations. Not bad for a nation with such a relatively small population.

Norwegians are just as concerned about limited driving range on a single charge as Americans. Still, a competitive purchase price and a number of perks – especially that bus lane access – make plug-ins more popular there than anywhere else.


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  • 14 Comments
      Marcopolo
      • 7 Months Ago
      Norway has certainly embraced EV's to a much larger extent that other Europeans. A lot of reasons have contributed to the proliferation of EV's including very high gasoline prices, cheap electricity, the size and shape of the country. (20% live in the capital Oslo). Vehicle tax and other benefits. The Norwegian government also permits the registration of Quadracycle EV's. These flimsy little EV's are not tolerated in most nations for safety reasons. Norway is very coy about the accident statistics for these little vehicles, and subsidizes insurance rates. Most of these EV's sold are cheap not because of government taxes, but because the Buddy, Reva, Th!nk were inexpensive little vehicles anyway. Annual motor vehicle registration in Norway is nearly $600 per year, but an EV is $50 . The majority of EV's,are second cars, used for convenience in the capital where they can park in specially reserved parking, often for free. Although the Tesla Model S should find a strong market among the affluent in Norway, the Opel Ampera doesn't qualify as an EV for tax purposes. .
      Brody
      • 7 Months Ago
      I wonder if we can learn from Norway's EV impact - or lack there of- on their electrical grid?
        Spec
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Brody
        Not many lessons that can be learned from Norway that will apply to other places. Norway is blessed with an abundance of hydropower which most places do not enjoy.
      Grendal
      • 7 Months Ago
      I believe I've heard from Norwegian commenters that ICE cars are taxed based on their weight. So a luxury car like a BMW 7 series is almost double the price of a Model S which is exempt from that tax. That's why there are over 800 reservations and growing daily for the Model S in Norway.
      costeau
      • 7 Months Ago
      True dat. Historically, Norway has been the world's highest consumer of electricity per capita in the world, at a time even before EVs became commonplace there. Today, the country utillizes multiple resources for generating electricity, but hydropower remains the most common form, mostly gained from exploiting waterfalls, but to some extent also wave power along the coastline. Hydropower is believed to account for about 85 percent of Norway's homegrown electricity. Natural gas is the second biggest source of electricity, accounting for the majority of the approximately 15 percent remaining. I've seen some windmills too, but they're still pretty rare there. There are drawbacks to hydropower too, like when there's little rain, the water reservoirs don't fill up, and the country must get power from other sources to meet the demands, at times including importing the power from other countries.
      Spec
      • 7 Months Ago
      Norway . . . the drug dealer smart enough to know not to get addicted to its own product.
        brotherkenny4
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Spec
        Norwegians are also not TV addicts, and thus are not as likely to be brainwashed as americans. Seriously though, what is our product? I guess we are not too smart. What is our plan, oh yes, to burn up all the saudi oil so china can't get it. Great plan.
          Spec
          • 7 Months Ago
          @brotherkenny4
          We've switched from Saudi to Canadian oil. But we are still too reliant on imported fuel, spewing too much pollution, and spewing too much CO2.
          Joeviocoe
          • 7 Months Ago
          @brotherkenny4
          We may get our oil from Canada... but the Saudis still have the largest global share, and thus have a big effect on prices. Oil is a global commodity, so a production hold in Saudiland means Canadian Oil will be diverted for the better price to Europe or elsewhere, thus requiring the U.S. to bid higher per barrel.
        Giza Plateau
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Spec
        If they were really clever they would stop selling the oil and wait. they have plenty of money to wait with
        HVH20
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Spec
        Big +1 Not only do they charge an arm and a leg for their own product, they save the drug money so they will still be wealthy once the oil dries up.
        Electron
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Spec
        LOL +1!
      ElectricAvenue
      • 7 Months Ago
      I like the article on the whole, but it would help if specific figures were given. What is the import tax on cars? What is the price of a Leaf and a Model S (85 kWh, say) versus reasonable ICE competitors? What is the cost of electricity and gasoline in Norway? I can no doubt look all these up, but as the author of an article making all the claims, it would be nice if you provided some evidence for your claims. For the benefit of others who are wondering: a quick web search suggests that the price of electricity in Norway is the equivalent of about 15 cents per kWh, while the price of gasoline works out to about $10 US per gallon. Surely that's a factor! A bigger factor than being able to drive down the bus lane, I would think!
        Spec
        • 7 Months Ago
        @ElectricAvenue
        The price of gas in Norway is among the highest in the world due to taxes. Their electricity is pretty cheap, especially for Europe, due to their vast amounts of hydroelectric resources.
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