Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 July 2019

Norway's car market shifts gear as electric vehicles outsell petrol models for first time

The Norwegian government is aiming to sell only zero-emission vehicles by 2025

A Tesla Inc. Model 3 electric automobile recharges at a charging station in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Bloomberg
A Tesla Inc. Model 3 electric automobile recharges at a charging station in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Bloomberg

Electric cars outsold fossil fuel vehicles for the first time in Norway last month, the Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association announced, marking the first time that more than half of the cars sold in the Norwegian market were fully electric.

Christina Bu, the organisation’s general secretary, said the 58.4 per cent share of sales in March was “historically high”.

“Norway shows the whole world that the electric car can replace cars powered by gasoline and diesel and be an important contribution in the fight to reduce CO2 emissions,” Bu said in a statement.

The Scandinavian country provided big incentives to boost electric car sales, waiving hefty vehicle import duties and reducing sales and registration tariffs.

Owners of electric vehicles are also allowed to circulate on bus lanes and are exempted from road tolls.

Norway is the world leader in the sale of electric vehicles (EVs). According to estimates by the International Energy Agency, in 2017 it accounted for 39 percent of the market share of EVs, far ahead of Iceland in second place with 14 percent.

In 2018, the market share rose to 49 per cent, above Iceland (19 per cent) and Sweden (8.2).

Tesla's Model 3 accounted for almost half of the 10,732 zero-emission vehicles registered in Norway in March.

The Norwegian government has outlined plans to see only zero-emission vehicles sold in the country by 2025.

"We are now aiming for 1.2 million BEVs on Norwegian roads by 2025, which is a little more than five times today's number," Mrs Bu said.

Other European countries are struggling to keep the same pace. The UK has pledged that half of all new cars will be hybrid or electric by 2030. In a move that has angered environmental campaigners but was welcomed by the car industry, the UK revised its “Road to Zero” plan and stopped short of a complete ban on the circulation of petrol and diesel vehicles in 2040.

Germany is trying to respond to a diesel emissions cheating scandal that has engulfed the auto industry in the last three years by boosting electric car sales. Government subsidy schemes have helped lift sales but even so, Germany accounted for less than 2 per cent of total EV sales last year.

The EU has agreed to cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from new cars by 37.5 per cent by 2030. Car-producing nations including Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark, have sought laxer time limits.

German carmakers called the EU's 2030 target restrictive and unrealistic and warned the move would damage Europe's standing in the international car market and endanger jobs.

Despite major renewable growth, CO2 emissions reached a historic high in 2018. Energy demand worldwide grew by 2.3 per cent last year – its fastest pace this decade – due to a robust global economy and stronger heating and cooling needs in some regions.

Fossil fuels meet nearly 70 per cent of the growth for the second year running, the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) latest assessment of global energy consumption found.

Together, China, the United States, and India accounted for nearly 70 per cent of the rise in energy demand around the world. The United States saw the largest increase in oil and gas demand worldwide. Its gas consumption jumped 10 per cent from the previous year, the fastest increase since the beginning of IEA records in 1971.

The largest source of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities in the United States is from burning fossil fuels for electricity, heat, and transportation.

Updated: April 2, 2019 06:09 PM