The electric car industry is thriving in Norway, while diesel car sales continue to plummet.

Image in public domain.

Norway is the country with the most electrical vehicles per capita in the world but even by their standards, 2018 was an exceptional year. In March 2014, Norway became the first country where one in every 100 passenger cars on the road was a plug-in electric. By the end of 2016, the market penetration passed 5% and now, in 2018, 31.2% of all car sales in the country were plug-in electric.

Taking into consideration hybrid cars as well, half of all the cars sold in Norway were at least partly electric.

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“It was a small step closer to the 2025 goal,” said Oeyvind Solberg Thorsen, head of the Norwegian Road Federation. The 2025 goal is having all new cars electric.

Although there’s still a long way to go before reaching that goal, Norway is still miles ahead of the second place Iceland (12%) and Sweden (6%). The US lags severely behind, with only a 1.2% market share for electric vehicles. For comparison, China’s electric market is much higher, at 2.2%.

The reason why Norway sells so many electric cars has a lot to do with incentives: there’s no import tax, no sales tax, no vehicle-registration fees, as well as free access to toll roads. Another powerful incentive (although this is limited to some city areas) is free parking. Norway also offers a great number of free charging stations, and the infrastructure is, considering Norway’s geography, excellently suited for electrical cars.

However, despite remarkable progress, not everyone is convinced that Norway will be able to go full-electric by 2025. The Institute of Transport Economics (ITE) says that charging points are a strong limitation to this goal.

“Strictly speaking I don’t think it’s possible, primarily because too many people don’t have a private parking space and won’t want to buy a plug-in car if they can’t establish a charging point at home,” ITE economist Lasse Fridstroem said.

“We may be able to get to a 75 percent (market share), provided that the tax breaks are maintained,” he added.

Another limitation is the sheer availability — some clients in Norway had to wait several months and up to a year to receive their preferred car.

Whether or not Norway manages to attain its objective remains to be seen, but its progress is undeniable. The transition is understandably harder for more populous countries, but nevertheless, healthy policies are crucial. Switching to electric cars is essential for limiting man-made climate change.