Features
4 jan 19

Record EV sales in Norway last year

Nearly one-third of all new vehicles sold in Norway last year were pure-electrics – a record both for Norway and the world.

Norway famously is the world’s most advanced EV market. Equally famously, the Norwegian model also shows its limits: large-scale automotive electrification at present is only possible thanks to massive, sustained public subsidies. 

VAT-exempt
Norwegian EV buyers are exempt from the country’s 25% VAT and from any purchase tax on their new vehicles. Thanks to its relatively small population and (ironically) its large oil revenues, Norway can afford such a policy. 

Even so, the Norwegian government is trying to reduce its subsidies for automotive electrification – hoping that they will become obsolete anyway by 2025, when it expects price parity between EVs and cars with internal combustion engines (ICEs). Many experts believe, however, that price parity will only be achieved by 2030. 

EV world leader
Until that moment – whenever it arrives – Norway seems stuck with its generous state aid for electrification. When the Danish government abolished its subsidies for EV purchases, sales dove by 60%. A similar crash in Norway would wipe out its status as an EV world leader, built up at great cost. 

But, as the latest figures released by Autovista indicate, the Norwegian government doesn’t have to worry about that just yet. In fact, its target for all cars to be zero-emission by 2025 is seeming more achievable by the year. That in itself creates another worry, though: how to raise enough taxes from a fleet that increasingly consists of tax-exempt vehicles?

Major step
According to OFV, the Norwegian Road Federation, sales of pure-electric vehicles rose from 20.8% in 2017 to 31.2% in 2018 – i.e. almost a third of all new cars sold in the country last year. That’s a record for Norway, and consequently also a world record. 

While it’s another major step towards Norway’s goal of total zero-emission car fleet by 2025, OFV president Oeyvind Solberg pointed out that despite the government’s considerable efforts, two-thirds of all cars sold in Norway last year were still ICEs or hybrids (i.e. ICEs with an additional electric battery).

Interesting tidbits
Some other interesting tidbits from Norway’s 2018 results:

  • After peak year 2017, new car sales declined by 6.8% last year, to 147,929 units (down 10,721 units). Still, 2018 was Norway’s sixth-best year ever in terms of volume. 
  • According to OFV, the decline was due in large part to delays in EV deliveries, and also to the effects of WLTP, which meant that some OEMs could not supply certain models from September 2018 onwards. 
  • The most popular brands in Norway last year were VW (20,071 units, 13.6%), Toyota (14,709 units, 9.9%) and Nissan (14,216 units, 9.6%).
  • The most popular car models were the Nissan Leaf (12,303 units sold, 8.3% market share), the VW Golf (9,859 units, 6.7%) and the BMW i3 (5,687 units, 3.8%).
  • The share of new diesel cars dropped sharply, from 23.1% in 2017 to 17.7% in 2018. 
  • More affordable family EVs with good range and space becoming available during 2019 should give the segment an additional boost. Sales of petrol cars were down by 17%, while non-plug-in hybrids fell by 20%. 
  • For 2019, OFV predicts sales of 146,300 new cars in Norway, virtually the same volume as for 2018. 

Reacting to the figures, the Norwegian EV Association (NEVA) said that a completely emission-free car market was achievable, although the lobby group admitted that “access to EV charging remains a real barrier”, as well as access to EVs themselves: they are now so popular that some customers have to wait for more than a year before their electric car is delivered. 

Authored by: Frank Jacobs