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Norway Masks European Electric Car Sales Stumble

“big electric car sales in Norway were enough to hide the fact that overall sales in Western Europe in February were actually lower”.

Norway, the oil and gas rich little Scandinavian country, continues to persuade its citizens to buy electric cars at such a rate it distorts the picture for all of Western Europe, according to Automotive Industry Data (AID).

Norway uses its massive revenues from energy sales to subsidize battery-only electric cars and penalize buyers of standard gasoline and diesel cars. It imposes a massive sales tax on regular cars, and uses the law to allow electric cars access to city centres and parking.

And big electric car sales in Norway were enough to mask the fact that overall sales in Western Europe in February were actually lower.

 Excluding Norway, sales were 10 per cent down, AID said.

In February, the latest period for which data is available, electric cars captured 12.3 per cent of Norway’s new car sales; that compares with 0.23 per cent in Europe’s biggest market, Germany. The overall numbers are miniscule though. February sales in Norway totalled 1,385, bringing the total for the first two months to 2,484 versus 671 a year ago for the two months. Germany’s sales in the first two months were 1,038 versus 911 a year ago.

For Western Europe as a whole, electric car sales in the first two months of 2014 rose to 5,894 from 3,810 in the same period of 2013 for a market share of 0.34 per cent versus 0.23 per cent. That includes the Tesla Model S, Nissan Leaf, electric Mercedes Smart, and Renault Zoe. Also included in the figures are Chevrolet Volts and the European version – the Opel-Vauxhall Ampera. The Volt-Ampera is a range-extended electric vehicle, which has a gasoline engine to generate electricity when the battery empties.

Not only are Germany’s sales still tiny, but come as two of the country’s most important car makers BMW and VW introduced new electric cars – the i3, and VW the electric Golf and E-Up, a battery version of the city car. (Some i3s are sold with range-extenders).

According to AID, car buyers are showing monumental disinterest, put off by high prices, lack of recharging infrastructure, and range anxiety.

The Nissan Leaf was the biggest seller in Norway in the first two months with 1,134 sales, according to AID, ahead of conventionally powered cars like the Toyota Auris and VW Golf.

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