What Does 40% EV Market Share Look Like? Hint: It Looks Norwegian
02.14.2018 - by Joel Levin
What Does 40% EV Market Share Look Like? Hint: It Looks Norwegian

I have just returned from attending the Nordic EV Summit in Oslo, Norway. Remarkably, more than 700 people attended from 33 countries to learn about what has been achieved with electric vehicles in Norway.

The conference was hosted by the Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association, TU, Electric Mobility Norway, and Nordic Energy Research and included representatives from electric car driver associations in Belgium, Costa Rica, Denmark, Germany, New Zealand, Scotland, and Sweden. Who knew that Plug In America had so many brothers and sisters around the globe?

Norway has been a leader on electric cars ever since Th!nk, a Norwegian all-electric car company founded in the 1990s. But the Norwegians have continued to push ahead as world leaders on electric cars and with that push, its market has grown steadily. In December, for the first time, more than 50% of all cars sold in the country were plug-ins or hybrids. They have now moved well beyond the early adopters phase and into the mass-market segment, the only country in the world to do so. And this has all happened relatively quickly.

Norway has achieved this, in part, through generous benefits for EV drivers. They are exempt from VAT (sales tax), import tax, parking fees, tolls, and ferry charges. Gasoline is also exorbitantly expensive. With all of these benefits, they have roughly equalized the cost of EVs and gasoline cars. In my discussions with authorities on the Norwegian EV market, they argued that there are two take-away lessons for other countries. First, when EVs compete on a truly level playing field with other cars, sales can quickly take off and move into the mass market, and second; the whole argument that EVs are not practical in a cold, northern climate is baloney.

First, when EVs compete on a truly level playing field with other cars, sales can quickly take off and move into the mass market, and second; the whole argument that EVs are not practical in a cold, northern climate is baloney.

The country has a goal to be the first in the world to eliminate sales of new combustion engine cars, by 2025, and it seems likely that they will succeed. Interestingly enough, Norway currently has no domestic auto industry. All cars are imported—and the importers have not been able to keep up with demand. Dealers are rarely able to keep vehicles on the lot, so Norwegians are used to ordering their EVs and waiting—sometimes a year or two—to get their cars. OFV estimates the waiting list for cars expected to be delivered this year is already 33,000, about the same as total sales in 2017, suggesting that 2018 will be another banner year for EVs in Norway and keep them on track for their gasoline car phase out.

Slide from Christina Bu (NO) Secretary General, Norwegian EV Association presentation at Nordic EV Summit in Oslo, Feb 2018

Check out this Norwegian EV Association presentation from the conference with more data on Norway’s electric car market.

 


Editor note: Corrections made to the name of the slide presenter in the caption and the abbreviation for Norwegian EV Association. Edits now include a full range of presenters, TU, Electric Mobility Norway, and Nordic Energy Research as well as Norwegian EV Association.

16 comments on “What Does 40% EV Market Share Look Like? Hint: It Looks Norwegian”
  1. Kell Petersen says:

    From horses, steam, combustion to electricity human technological evolution and behavior the shift from fossil fuel combustion to electrically driven vehicles -humanity’s fundamental problem remains our ambition is unlimited – Elon Musk, Tesla, Mars money. The problem is the resources to achieve our ambition is limited and has alternative uses and the time each generation currently 7.5 billion and growing exponential has available to achieve their ambition is short. Will we early enough invest in relevant research in our universities needed to increase the understanding early enough we need to solve the social, economic and ecological problem humanity are facing early enough as we faces the future -election has consequences

  2. Richard Matland says:

    I have lived many years in Norway and there are several aspects to why it works. One is the subsidies mentioned they do make EVs viable. On the other hand part of the reason to do this is because it internalizes the societal costs of the fuel source. In Norway 100% of electricity is generated with hydroelectric power, regular cars run on gasoline. Which is better for the environment, public health, and global warming?? Subsidizing EV nudges people towards those decisions.

  3. Alexander says:

    The conditions in CA for making the EV the preferred form of transportation do already exist: warm climate, density of population, commuter traffic, decent tax incentives for EVs. However, as long as people here believe they are defined by the size, brand and horsepower of their car it will be difficult to change their behavior. Norwayans seem to have other alternatives to express their character.

  4. Mark Geduldig-Yatrofsky says:

    From my own experience with a 2012 and, subsequently, a 2015 Nissan LEAF, I would like to know how the Norwegians offset the dual battery drain — i. e., lower efficiency and greater use of heating — in very cold weather. Here in Southeastern VA, not exactly glacier country, we had a frigid late-December and January. Although my LEAF spent its overnights in an unheated garage, driving around in subfreezing temperatures dramatically reduced its range of close to 100 miles in less extreme temperatures.

    1. Mark Williams says:

      My guess is that Norway’s charging infrastructure is robust enough that Nissan LEAF drivers who need to plug in daily to address reduced range can do so.

  5. Stanislav Jaracz says:

    Norway has succeeded because they lifted the “discouragment” tax on a car if it has no emissions. Here in the US, having a car and driving many miles routinely is considered a birth right & entitlement. The whole society grew into car ownership as necessity to survive (except of big cities). So, to replace them with EVs, US has to resort to incentives. This is clearly inefficient. Unfortunately, taxing gasoline and gas cars in the USA is politically impossible.

  6. Jay says:

    Having lived in Norway for 5 years almost 40 years ago, it sounds like for all the advancement, some things never change. Car selection was extremely limited and very expensive, but the people accepted the system.

  7. Ira says:

    There’s no question that electric cars have a lot of “pluses”, but try driving a Tesla from Boston to Miami……. Every 225 miles or so, you have to stop for 3 1/2 hours to recharge.
    A gasoline car stops for maximum 10 minutes to gas up, and is on it’s way again.
    When electric cars have that problem fixed, they will outclass gasoline cars. Till then, plug-in hybrid cars are the best you can do for those long distance drives if you want to get there the same day you started…… But of course, once you have used up the electricity in a plug-in hybrid, you are driving a “gasoline car” till you have a spare 3 1/2 hours to recharge.

    Not everything in an electric car is a “plus”….. Using the heat or air conditioning in an all electric car (or a plug-in hybrid) cuts your electric mileage significantly, because heat is done by electric resistance heating (like a plug-in electric heater), which takes its power from the battery.

    1. Greg says:

      It is clear you have not driven a Tesla on a long trip and used Superchargers.

  8. Ira says:

    Regarding your article on Norway achieving a 50% electric car fleet……
    You brag that when electric cars compete “on a level playing field”, more people buy them.

    Do you really call “generous benefits for EV drivers. They are exempt from VAT (sales tax), import tax, parking fees, tolls, and ferry charges. Gasoline is also exorbitantly expensive.” a LEVEL PLAYING FIELD?!?!? I’d say the “deck is stacked” heavily in favor of electric vehicles.

    All the other drivers who don’t have electric cars are paying VAT taxes, import taxes, parking fees, tolls, ferry charges, and exorbitant gasoline costs so these electric car drivers can save money.
    How many electric car drivers would be electric car drivers if they had to pay all the REAL costs of owning and driving electric cars???? BTW….. I drive a Toyota Prius Prime, And I DIDN’T buy it because everyone else is subsidizing it for me.

  9. Joseph A Schmidt says:

    “Norway has achieved this, in part, through generous benefits for EV drivers. They are exempt from VAT (sales tax), import tax, parking fees, tolls, and ferry charges.” How is that a Level playing field?

    1. James says:

      Level = similar cost of ownership. Duh.

    2. G Thomas Poirier says:

      True, it is NOT a level playing field but one that is tilted significantly toward EVs. But that’s the point. With the superiority, in almost every facet of personal transportation, EVs should and will displace the far-less-efficient internal combustion engine (ICE) because it needs to for SO many, many reasons not the least of which is purely economic.
      In the US, by comparison, there is, of course, fierce opposition from the fossil fuel titans and embedded auto manufacturers. Way TOO much to lose so they are dragging their feet, creating obfuscation whenever they can and, obviously both the political and industrial will to make this happen.
      Just the same, it is only a matter of time but, in the meantime, the US will lag behind.

    3. michael zurakov says:

      Joseph, I agree that the list of perks and incentives do not sound like what we Americans think of as a level playing field; that said, what they may have meant is that, thru the perks, they have sought to equalize the total cost-of-ownership — making the EV choice a non-monetary one.

  10. Robert says:

    Simply. Amazing.

  11. Bill says:

    Wow! I hope So CA follows their example!

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