Despite cutbacks in May to generous incentives, Norway’s love affair with cars that can run on electricity means plug-in electrified vehicles (PEVs) now account for 22.9 percent of new cars sales.
Comprised of battery electric cars and plug-in hybrids, if the same thing were to happen in the U.S. on a percentage basis, it would have meant 1,943,177 new PEVs on American roads since January.
Chances of that are about nil, but in Norway, the microcosm of PEV adoption has the oil-producing state shipping off its petroleum, while its citizens turn to cars that run on the grid at a higher rate than anywhere in the world.
For calendar year 2015, the website elbil.no reports 18.4 percent of new cars sold in Norway were battery electric, and 4.5 percent were plug-in hybrids.
This almost 23 percent of all new car sales compares to the same period last year of 12.9 percent, but there is still a way to go, as most existing vehicles on Norway’s road still use internal combustion engines. According to global sales tracker Mario R. Duran, today PEVs comprise 2.4 percent of the total with 62,500 PEV passenger cars out of 2.6 million.
In any case, the country of around five million people may buy 25,000 plug-in cars if the present rate continues, topping last year’s 18,090.
Nor are we the only ones to notice, but Norway has become a veritable poster child of plug-in vehicle adoption thanks to incentives that nearly make it a no brainer for many.
To see the historical changeover closer up, elbil.no reports the Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association has hosted delegations and journalists from places including Taiwan, South Korea, and the U.S.
Notable statistics are all over the place in this phenomenal case example, but one is Volkswagen’s e-Golf was the top-selling PEV, and comprised 71 percent of all Golf models sold.
That’s over 4,829 e-Golfs from January to June whereas the U.S. and its population of 320 million has spoken for 1,518 of the limited-market car.
Of course other PEVs are selling well too, including Teslas, Nissan Leafs, Renault Zoe, and more.
Battery electric cars have been more popular, but the plug-in hybrid selection has grown. Elbil.no reports top PHEVs are the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV as number one, with the Audi A3 e-tron and Volkswagen Golf GTE following closely. Volvo’s V60 is the fourth-best seller.
What Are They Doing Differently?
Norway, like other European countries, does not suffer deeply divided politics over the climate change question, as is the case in the U.S.
Making it a priority to cut emissions and clean up energy – today nearly 100-percent hydroelectric – the tiny country 14 years ago set a goal of 50,000 plug-in cars it did not know whether would hit, but gave the early glorified golf carts a leg up with perks galore.
While they were at it, they made it more financially painful to keep driving gas guzzlers – or anything that runs on gas and diesel.
Incentives for PEVs included free access to bus lanes, free tolls for highways and ferries, free municipal parking, and zero Value Added Tax (VAT).
Want a new Porsche 911 in Norway? VAT is 100 percent over sticker. Want a Nissan Leaf – no VAT has to be paid.
In April the country hit its 50,000 PEV goal. It has created momentum, and gotten a lot of peoples’ attention – including local critics who said free access to bus lanes had EVs clogging up the road system in rush hour, among other complaints.
In May, Norwegian legislators agreed to curtail benefits that were also depriving state tax coffers of revenues.
As of January 2018 PEV owners will have to start paying half of yearly road fees, and by 2020 they’ll be required to pay the full rate.
Local authorities now have the right to decide on other perks like whether EVs should get free parking or have access to bus lanes.
Still Full Speed Ahead – For Now
Meanwhile, PEV growth continues in Norway, and whether it will continue to produce double-digit year-over-year increases will remain to be seen, but elbil.no reports it’s not likely.
Sales have now begun to stabilize and, for the first time in a long time says General Secretary Christina Bu of the in Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association, sales will not be doubling year over year.
That is, unless they surprise us. Again.