|The Norwegian electric car industry reached a milestone last year with 50,000 electric cars now registered in the Scandinavian country.|
By Anders Lorenzen
While electric cars struggle to take off in many European countries, it is an entirely different story in Norway.
While Norway is the biggest oil and gas producer in Europe, their electricity system is almost 100% clean as the majority comes from hydropower or cheap wind power imported from Denmark. Therefore electric cars make sense, and the Norwegian government offers some of Europe’s most generous electric car incentives and that is evident when you look at car sales in the Scandinavian country.
In 2015, almost one in five cars bought in Norway were electric cars. 26,000 zero emissions cars were registered with the majority of them being electric, apart from nine hydrogen cars. In total 157,000 cars were registered last year meaning that the Norwegian electric car market has grown significantly in 2015 compared to 2014, which already represented a high market share – growing from 12.5% to 17.1%.
Traditionally, in Norway cars are heavily taxed, but if you buy an electric car you are almost exempt from those taxes – making buying an electric car, not only good for the environment but also a good investment opportunity. While you’re on the road you also enjoy the benefits of driving an electric car like being exempt from many toll taxes as well as the allowed use of public transport lanes and enjoying free parking.
Car makers such as Volkswagen are benefitting from the Norwegian electric car market, with a staggering two-thirds of their electric Golf’s sold in Norway. Tesla is also faring well with only the US market being bigger for their model Tesla S.
But south of Norway, it is a different situation. In Denmark, the new Danish government are considering removing the incentives for owning an electric car. This has prompted the founder of Tesla, Elon Musk, to warn that if this were to happen it would no longer be viable for his company to operate there, also stating that Denmark is in danger of losing their green image.
In Holland and France, countries with decent incentives for electric cars, sales of electric cars only represented 2% and 0.9% of total car sales. But in the UK, the electric and hybrid car market almost doubled in 2015 growing from 14,532 into 28,188 – an increase of 94%. However, it is still only a fraction of the UK car market which is significantly bigger than the one in Norway, with 2.6 million new cars registered in 2015.
The UK also has weakened electric car incentives, prompting the question of whether 2016 will register a more disappointing electric car sales year.
As the economic viability of electric cars increases, Norway now plans to gradually roll back the incentives and benefits of owning an electric car. Green automakers will be hoping that this won’t impact their sales, as Norway has grown to be the only real European electric car market. As the electric car are struggling to make inroads in the rest of the European market, experts will argue that the Norwegian model should be copied – but that is far from a reality as many European countries are heading in the other direction.