20210106_Norway_EV_IBT Share of electric vehicles in total new passenger car registrations in Norway* Photo: Statista/IBT

If you’ve had the pleasure of visiting Norway in recent years, you may have been amazed not only by the country’s breathtaking landscapes but also by the number of Teslas zipping around the streets of Oslo.

Having been a frontrunner in electric mobility for years, the wealthy Scandinavian country passed a major milestone in 2020. According to the Norwegian Road Federation (OFV), electric cars accounted for more than 50 percent of new passenger car registrations for the first time last year. Even more impressively, that number rises to 75 percent when plug-in hybrids are included. To put things in perspective, a look across the pond yields an entirely different picture: in the United States, electric vehicles including hybrids accounted for less than 2 percent of light vehicle sales in 2019.

So why is that Norway is so far ahead in terms of electric vehicle adoption? It’s a combination of policy measures and the country’s wealth (ironically obtained from its vast oil reserves). Norway imposes hefty vehicle import duties and car registration taxes, making cars significantly more expensive than in most other countries. By waiving these duties for electric vehicles, Norway is effectively subsidizing EV purchases at a level that other countries couldn’t afford. Add free parking to the mix and going electric suddenly looks like a tempting proposition.

What makes Norway’s electric vehicle boom even more notable, is the fact that the country’s electricity comes almost exclusively from hydropower. That way driving an electric car in Norway is even cleaner than it is in countries heavily reliant on coal.