Norwegians are buying a lot of Nissan Leaf vehicles and have the most Tesla Model S reservations in the European market. While the US is a major market for electric vehicles, the sales numbers are proportionally huge for Norwegians. US electric vehicle sales look to be close to 50,000 for plug-in electric vehicles for all of 2012. According to Treehugger, that number reached about 10,000 units sold in Norway during 2012.
Norway's population is about 4,952,000, according to World Bank, and the US population is about 315,107,000, based on US Census data. While electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids make up only about 0.6 percent of new vehicle sales in the US, they're reaching 5.2 percent in Norway. How did plug-in electric vehicles become so popular in that country?
The short answer is price. In most countries, EVs tend to cost a good deal more than internal combustion engine cars. But, in a nation where high car taxes are the norm, the Norwegian government doesn't levy import taxes on EVs. The competitive pricing has helped the Nissan Leaf become 13th best selling vehicle in Norway. The country also has a long history with EVs, and it's common to see Revas, Kewet Buddies and many other EVs on the streets of Oslo, the capitol.
Government incentives are also increasing EV appeal with Norwegian consumers. In Oslo, EVs can drive down the bus lane, cutting commute time down significantly during rush-hour traffic. Other perks include free parking in city spaces and avoiding congestion charges that other car owners are subject to. The infrastructure is appealing, too – there are 3,500 charging posts and 100 fast-charging stations. Not bad for a nation with such a relatively small population.
Norwegians are just as concerned about limited driving range on a single charge as Americans. Still, a competitive purchase price and a number of perks – especially that bus lane access – make plug-ins more popular there than anywhere else.