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56% of Norway’s new cars had a plug in 2019, Tesla Model 3 overall best-seller

Electric cars continue to dominate in Norway, as 2019 saw EV sales rise to 42.4%, up from 31.2% in 2018, according to OFV.  This represents almost a 1/3 increase in EV sales from year to year.

Adding in plug-in hybrid sales, about 56% of Norway’s new car sales in 2019 had a plug.

Sales numbers were buoyed by a record year for Tesla, whose Model 3 was the most popular car in Norway in 2019.

For some months last year, Tesla was the best-selling brand overall in the country.  However, by the end of the year Tesla ended just shy of Volkswagen.  Volkswagen took the number 1 spot, with Tesla trailing VW’s sales numbers by less than 1%.

But the Tesla Model 3 was the most popular single model in the country, dethroning the Nissan Leaf which led in 2018.  The Model 3 itself had an 11% market share in Norway, with 15,683 vehicles sold.  This is over 50% more than the second-place VW Golf.

Norway is an electric car sales powerhouse and has led the EU in EV sales since the Leaf started selling there in 2010.  This year, Germany finally edged past Norway in electric car sales at the end of the year, but tiny Norway still buys the most EVs per capita of any country in the world, by quite a margin.

Norwegian car sales were down 3.8% overall even as electric car sales were way up.  Plug-in hybrid sales were down by 27.3% last year, showing that Norwegians are more comfortable with going full-electric and dropping their gas crutch.  Diesel sales fell by 13.1%, and conventional hybrid (non-plug-in) sales rose by 7.5%.

The worst results came from petrol car sales, which dropped by 31.4%.  This is likely because petrol cars are generally small cars for which there are many electric alternatives.

Building on this success, Norway plans to ban new gas vehicles by 2025.  But if this rate of growth keeps up, they might not even have to bother.

Estimates from both OFV and Norway’s largest auto dealer network suggest that 50-60% of Norwegian new car sales could be electric in 2020.  This will be helped along by a glut of new electric models hitting the market next year.  Many new EVs are coming out, and most automakers are focusing their EV efforts on Europe to comply with strict new regulations intended to curb climate change.

OFV estimates that Norway electric car sales might have been even higher in 2019, except that many buyers are “on the fence” about purchasing a new EV, seeing that there will be better selection of more new models coming in the next few years.

Electrek’s Take

Whenever we encounter someone who tries to claim that electric cars aren’t ready yet, there’s one word which often easily disproves that claim: Norway.

“Electric cars aren’t good in the cold?”  Norway’s plenty cold, but the cars do fine there – even in the Arctic Circle where superchargers are already open and more are coming next year.

“If there’s too many electric cars, or not enough coal to power them, won’t the grid destabilize?”  Norway’s doing fine and they use zero coal.

“Consumers just don’t want electric cars, they won’t reach significant levels of market share because they’re different and people don’t like change?”  Well, an entire country seems crazy for them, why can’t other countries do the same?

“But won’t the powerful oil industry try to stop it from happening, won’t it ruin countries where there’s many traditional fossil fuel jobs?”  More than 50% of Norway’s exports are oil products, but that’s not stopping them from rapidly decarbonizing their own transportation sector.

In the last several years, since Norwegians have been buying more and more electric vehicles, their streets have gotten quieter and their air has gotten cleaner.  They’re driving great cars that people like and they’re doing it in a cheaper and more sustainable way than they were before and people’s lives are better for it.

50%+ of new car sales isn’t too much to ask.  Every country should be doing this, today.  We can’t afford to keep putting cars on the road which will continue polluting the Earth for decades into the future, adding to the millions of deaths from pollution per year, and using up the Earth’s carbon budget.

We need to stop it now, and Norway proves that we can.  And if we stopped giving $5 trillion per year in global subsidies to fossil fuels, like Norway has by instituting a price on pollution, maybe it might happen a little faster.

Photo: Thomas Nilsen/Tesla Supercharger in Skibotn, Norway

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Avatar for Jameson Dow Jameson Dow

Jameson has been driving electric vehicles since 2009, and has been writing about them and about clean energy for since 2016.

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