Norway becomes first country where electric car sales outsell combustion cars

In 2020, 54.3% of new cars sold in the country were pure electric, compared with 6.6% in the UK.

Norway has become the first country in the world where the majority of new car sales are pure-electric cars, spurred on largely by demand for Volkswagen Group EVs.

In 2020, 54.3% of all new cars sold in Norway were fully electric, up from 42.1% in 2019. This marks the first time such cars have comprised more than 50% of new car sales in a country across a full year.

Norway’s EV sales now make up more than 10% of Europe’s as a whole, where just 4% of new cars are fully electric. The Nordic country claims a similar advantage over the UK, where EVs comprise just 6.6% of new cars currently.

A key driver of Norway’s EV uptake has been demand for new-for-2020 Volkswagen Group EVs, of which Audi’s E-tron and E-tron Sportback models were the most popular. Overall, EVs accounted for 76 789 of 141 412 new cars in 2020, with Audi’s SUV making up 9 227, more than a tenth of all new EVs sold.

Volkswagen’s ID 3 electric hatchback was the third most popular car, with 7 754 units sold, despite only being launched in September 2020, just below the Tesla Model 3 (7 770 sales) and above the Nissan Leaf (5 221 sales).

The rapidly increasing popularity of EVs in Norway comes courtesy of the country’s generous tax breaks for zero-emission cars, imposed as part of a goal of becoming the first country to end the sales of combustion-engine cars by 2025.

The CEO of the Norwegian Road Federation (OFV), Oeyvind Thorsen, told a news conference that Norway is “definitely on track to reach the 2025 target”. According to current plans, this would be five years before the same milestone is reached in the UK.

In 2020, 108 205 pure-electric vehicles were registered in Britain. Although this is just 6.6% of all new car sales, it is a substantial increase over sales of the same cars in 2019. That year, EVs made up just 1.6% of UK new car sales, with 37 850 finding buyers.