Hint: it's not in the Middle East.
We just reported that internal combustion engined vehicle sales may have peaked in 2018, and as automakers continue pushing battery-electric powertrains (due to global governmental pressure), ICE sales may soon drop. That’s already happening in some parts of the word, but perhaps no more so than in Norway. According to Reuters, the Scandinavian country is a hot-bed, so to speak, for EVs.
Last year, a third of all new vehicles sold there were electrics - not hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or fuel cell - but pure electrics. Ironically, Norway also happens to be an oil-rich nation. The Norwegian Road Federation (NRF) stated earlier this past week that electric car sales increased to 31.2 percent of all vehicle sales in 2018, up from 20.8 percent in 2017. In 2013, that figure was only 5.5 percent.
Meanwhile, sales of gasoline and diesel vehicles took a nosedive, with diesel sales down by 28 percent and gasoline cars down by 17 percent. Even non-plug-in hybrid sales dropped by 20 percent. "It was a small step closer to the 2025 goal,” by which time Norway’s parliament wants all new cars to be emissions-free, said Oeyvind Solberg Thorsen, head of the NRF.
That initial goal may have been a little too aggressive and optimistic, to say the least, but clearly Norwegian car buyers are more than willing to make a change. Still, Thorsen did add that some 148,000 new vehicles sold last year were still powered by fossil fuels or were hybrids. But just look at the yearly figures. In just one year’s time, the percentage of EV sales increased by an astonishing 10.4 percent.
To put that into perspective, approximately 6.3 million passenger cars were sold in the US in 2017. One-third of that is nearly 1.9 million. Barely 200,000 EVs were sold in America that year. So why is Norway so enthusiastic about EVs despite being Western Europe’s biggest oil (and gas) producer? A number of reasons, among them government tax incentives (which are reportedly hurting tax revenues) and a general population consensus for a greener economy. The best-selling EV in Norway last year was the Nissan Leaf, followed by other makes and models, including the BMW i3, and Tesla's lineup.