OSLO - Electric vehicles accounted for almost four out of every five new car registrations in Norway last year, setting a new record, according to figures released Monday.
Led by US carmaker Tesla, which topped the list with a 12.2 percent market share, 138,265 new electric cars were sold in the Scandinavian country last year, representing 79.3 percent of total passenger car sales, the Norwegian Road Federation (OFV) said in a statement.
In doing so, Norway, which is both a major producer of oil and gas, as well as a pioneer for zero-emission cars, comfortably beat the previous record of 64.5 percent set in 2021.
Comparatively, electric cars made up just 8.6 percent of new car registrations in the European Union over the first nine months of 2022.
In December alone, electric cars hogged 82.8 percent of sales as Norwegian households rushed to buy them before a tax change came into force in 2023.
Norway aims for all new cars to be "zero emission" -- in other words, electric and hydrogen -- by 2025.
"Eight out of 10 people choosing fully electric instead of combustion engines is a considerable step towards Norway reaching its climate goal of 100 percent BEV sales in 2025," said Christina Bu, Secretary General of the Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association.
"Our message to the rest of the world is crystal clear: Now there is no excuse for the internal combustion engines' unnecessary pollution when the climate crisis is so urgent to solve," she said in a statement
To promote sales, such cars have benefitted from being tax-free, as well as being charged lower fares for road tolls and public parking.
But with their popularity growing, and subsequent loss of income for the state, Norwegian authorities have started to roll back some of the benefits.
As of January 1, the 25 percent VAT exemption on the purchase of new electric vehicles applies only to the first 500,000 Norwegian kroner (about $50,500) of the price.
About one in five cars on Norwegian roads are currently electric.