Half of all cars sold in Norway in 2018 were electric

The ride of choice.
The ride of choice.
Image: Reuters/Brendan McDermid
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Norway got rich by selling oil—but it believes the fuel doesn’t have a future on its own roads. The country plans to end sales of all gasoline-powered cars by 2025.

Based on the latest data from 2018, it seems to be heading in the right direction. Half of all passenger cars sold in Norway that year were either all-electric or plug-in hybrids—a global record, according to the Norwegian Road Federation. The top-selling car in Norway in 2018 was the all-electric Nissan Leaf.

The country has come a long way in a short time. In 2013, only 6% of the cars sold in the country were all-electric or plug-in hybrids. By 2017, the year for which the most recent data is available for a majority of countries, that number had surged to 39%, making Norway the top-ranked country for electric-car sales. In second place was Iceland, where electric-car sales made up 12% of all cars sold that year, followed by Sweden, at 6%, according to the International Energy Agency.

Meanwhile, the total number of passenger cars sold in Norway in 2018 fell to about 148,000, from a near all-time high in 2017 of 159,000. The decline showed up in sales of plug-in hybrids, hybrids, and gasoline-powered cars. Sales of all-electric cars, however, made a leap—growing by 40%.

As Quartz reported previously, Norway “provides a slew of benefits for electric car buyers: no import tax, no sales tax, no vehicle-registration fees, free access to toll roads, and free parking in some city areas.” But even so, not everyone is sure if Norway can hit its ambitious 2025 goal.

That’s 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,” Lasse Fridstroem of the consultancy the Institute of Transport Economics told Reuters. More than 90% owners of electric cars in Norway charge their cars at home daily or weekly, according to the International Energy Agency.

Another barrier, according to Christina Bu of the Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association, is the availability of electric cars. Some customers in Norway have had to wait nearly a year to get their preferred car. That may soon change, as most large carmakers are planning to introduce many all-electric vehicles in the next few years.

That said, Norway (or Iceland or Sweden) has an easier task as a small, rich country to achieve the transition to electric cars. It’s worth noting that such a transition is much harder for countries like the US or China, where electric-car sales only made up between 1% and 3% of all cars sold in 2017.