The Tesla Model S has topped Norway's monthly sales charts before, but this time, it also broke a national sales record that was in place for nearly 30 years.
The Model S, which is in high demand in Norway for many reasons, landed 1,493 sales in March. That may not sound like a lot to Americans, but let's remember that Norway has a population of about 5 million. (The US population is about 63 times more that that, approximately 314 million.) March Model S sales actually beat a 1986 monthly sales record set by the Ford Sierra (1,454 sales).
Note that it hasn't even been a year since Model S deliveries began in Norway. Nonetheless, there is still a waiting list for the Model S. Tesla still can't produce enough vehicles to match worldwide demand, and it is splitting what it can produce amongst reservations in the US, Norway, and many other countries. But Norway is a top market, and one Tesla is trying to keep happy. On a recent trip to Europe, Tesla CEO Elon Musk and CTO JB Straubel spent 1.5 hours in Oslo answering questions from Tesla owners or soon-to-be owners.
Electric car sales have in some months gotten up to 12% of the automobile market in Norway. The Nissan Leaf has also held the #1 sales spot in some months. At an electric vehicle symposium in Barcelona in November (EVS27), I attended a presentation by Francisco Carranza, Manager of Corporate Planning at Nissan Europe, in which Francisco attributed much of Norway's EV sales success to basic consumer awareness. I do think lack of awareness is now one of the most critical barriers to EV sales in most countries — EVs are a better option today for many if not most US automobile owners, but only about 22% of Americans have heard of the Tesla Model S, and only about 31% are familiar with the Nissan Leaf.
However, it's worth pointing out that Norway also offers a range of broad incentives to EV owners. EV drivers can drive in bus lanes, get to use toll roads for free, get to park for free, get to ride ferries for free (which is apparently not just for fun but necessary in some regions), don't have to pay any purchase tax (which is very high in Norway), and more. In other words, you don't become the #1 EV country per capita by chance.
Getting back to the stunning March sales figures, here are some more facts:
- More than twice as many Tesla Model S's were sold in March than the #2 Volkswagen Golf (1,493 vs 624).
- The fully electric Nissan Leaf was actually #3 with 425 sales.
- Tesla has sold more cars in Norway than Ford this year (2,056 vs 1,825), despite only having the Model S on the market.
- The Tesla Model S accounted for 10.8% of the entire car market in Norway in March.
- For January through March, the Tesla Model S also topped the charts, with almost 500 more sales than the #2 VW Golf and #3 Nissan Leaf (2,056 vs 1,577 vs 1,559).