If you like electric cars, there's no better place to be than Norway. Electric cars and hybrids exceeded half of all new-car sales in the Scandinavian country in 2017. But a unique combination of circumstances—including generous incentives—still makes Norway the exception to the rule.
Electric cars and hybrids accounted for 52 percent of new-car sales in Norway in 2017, according to the Norwegian Road Federation. That's up from 40 percent in 2016 and far ahead of other countries, where electrified vehicles make up a very small percentage of new-car sales. According to the International Energy Agency, the country with the second-highest level of electric-car sales (excluding hybrids) in 2017 was The Netherlands, at 6.4 percent.
"No one else is close" in terms of electrified-vehicle market share, Norwegian Road Federation boss Oeyvind Solberg Thorsen said in an interview with Reuters. That's thanks in part to incentives that include exemption from many taxes and tolls, plus free parking and charging in many locations. Most Norwegians also live in a relatively small area around the capital of Oslo, meaning they don't drive very far and thus they don't have much range anxiety.
While other countries offer electric-car incentives, Norway is by far the most aggressive. But even this electric-car loving country may be losing the political will to support sales with incentives. Last year, right-wing politicians proposed cutting some electric-car incentives, although the measure didn't make it into Norway's 2018 budget.
The Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association, a private electric-car advocacy group, said incentives are still needed in order for Norway to meet a previously-stated goal of ending sales of new gasoline and diesel cars by 2025. It's an ambitious goal, but it seems Norway is already halfway there.