Norway is ahead of the game in EV sales, with gasoline’s share of the new car market vanishing more and more every month, faster than almost anyone outside of Electrek‘s Slack channel could have predicted. This has led Norway to have the earliest target for the phaseout of new gas vehicle sales in the world – 2025.
But gas cars might not even last that long. According to an analysis printed by the Norwegian Automobile Federation’s magazine, Motor, the downward trend in sales for gas cars has been so consistent and steep that the last new gas car sale in Norway could happen just seven months from now, in April 2022.
Norway’s Road Traffic Council reports monthly sales figures for all cars sold in the country, so we have accurate reports on just how many new cars of each powertrain choice get sold. In the most recent accounting, cars without any type of electrification made up less than 10% of new car sales, down from about 21% the year prior.
If the trend present for the last few years continues, the trend line will hit zero in April 2022. This is a lot earlier than their 2025 target (which, to be clear, is not a legal requirement yet, more of a soft target agreed upon by Norway’s government).
These statistics do count conventional hybrids as “electrified” – somewhat of a strange designation, since they still get 100% of their energy from gasoline – but all of the top vehicles can run at least partially on electricity. And conventional hybrids make up less than 10% of new car sales anyway.
As Motor acknowledges in their article, the very last gas car probably won’t be sold in April 2022. Not every car segment has a good selection of vehicles yet, and there are always some exceptions.
But there is a clear trend that outside of these few exceptions or niche vehicles, there will probably not be many mass-market sales of non-electrified vehicles. Norway might even allow limited numbers of gas car sales to continue past 2025, with the expectation that numbers might be small enough that a legislative ban really won’t matter either way.
Since the start of this year, 14 of the top 15 cars in Norway are all-electric, with the RAV4 Prime, in second place, as the only plug-in hybrid in the top 15. 16th place goes to the Toyota Corolla hybrid, and we have to look all the way down to 38th place to find the first car without an electric motor in it, the VW Tiguan diesel.
Much of the credit for Norway’s head start can be credited to strong tax incentives for electric vehicles. Gas vehicles are subject to a significant tax, and electric vehicles are exempt from that tax. As a result, you can get a much better EV, at any price, compared to price-competitive gas cars.
But that tax exemption has stayed the same for a long time, and electric car sales just keep going up. In fact, EVs have even lost some of their perks in recent years, like free parking and toll road fee exemptions.
What’s driving the rise in EV sales is greater variety in available vehicles and just a general cultural trend toward EVs. Since it’s becoming clear that gas cars are on the way out, nobody wants to be saddled with a vehicle they won’t be able to fuel in 10 years. Some Norwegian gas stations are already replacing pumps with chargers, after all.
We’ve mentioned several times that we think gas car phaseout targets are not only too conservative to beat climate change, but that public opinion will likely change more rapidly than many people expect. Governments and automakers all have their own target for when they think the internal combustion engine will be retired, but many of these targets are just plain unrealistic.
For example, Ford, GM, and Stellantis recently announced a 40-50% EV sales goal by 2030. Our question was: Who is going to buy the other 50%?
Norway shows us what happens when the ball really gets rolling. At some point, it just doesn’t make sense to buy a gas car anymore.
But the same thing happens with just about every new technology. When a new technology is introduced, adoption starts off relatively slowly among early adopters until an inflection point is reached and mass adoption starts. Think about film and digital cameras for instance. Then the new technology is adopted rapidly across a population, and at the end only a few stragglers are left using the old technology. This generally follows an “S-curve.”
EVs will likely follow a similar curve everywhere else they are introduced. EV sales have been growing rapidly in the US and EU, but that growth will probably continue to accelerate. Not only will existing models see increasing sales (as long as automakers build enough of them), but new models will keep hitting the market with “surprisingly” high demand right off the bat.
Automakers, consumers, suppliers, gas station managers, governments, and so on, who aren’t prepared for this change will be caught by surprise. The shift is happening faster than you think. Be ready.
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