Scandinavian EV sales – never better in Norway, dead in Denmark

Norway is the world’s undisputed EV capital (see the current issue of Charged for a feature on EV-spotting in Oslo), and plug-in sales figures there continue to balloon. However, her Nordic neighbors present a much more mixed picture.

Sales of EV and PHEVs set a new record in the first half of 2016, according to the industry publication Insero Quarterly. 15,418 new plug-in vehicles hit the icy roads in the first half of 2016, a 30% increase over the previous year. PHEVs represent about 60% of the total.

The growth is fueled by record sales in Norway, Sweden and Finland, whereas sales in Denmark have actually shrunk.


Norway represents 75% of plug-in sales in the region. Sweden also had an impressive second quarter, as sales increased by 80% compared to 2015. Finland is just beginning to plug in – it had a record quarter, as 281 plug-in vehicles were sold.

Denmark, alas, is heading back to the 20th century – it began phasing out all EV incentives in September 2015 (and eliminated several other anti-pollution measures). In these high-tax countries, tax breaks are a big deal – Denmark’s elimination of the EV exemption means that the price of a Model S has tripled, to around $265,000. Unsurprisingly, plug-in sales have plummeted, down 60% for the second quarter of 2016.


Source: Insero
Images: Charles Morris

  • Lasse Mikkelsen

    It´s actually quite simple. Lobbyisme (in the most untransparent form, well hidden from the public) thrives very well in danish politics. Danish politicians are, opposite politicians in many other countries, not by law required to inform/present any activities,support, talks with lobbyist of any kind. Effectively this means that people/companies of big interest in keeping the EV revolution at distance for as long time as possible, can do this quite easily….its all about money…unfortunately…

    • John McVicker

      If you look at the world economy, it is much like Bitcoin. It is based on the time-value of energy. Oil is the current commodity, labor is based on how they leverage oil for labor, transportation and shipping. There is no other way to “do world economy” without oil as the basis. And if it shifts, they seem to want to do it slowly, carefully and with the lobbying and industry “protectionism” that we see happening. We all want an EV “hockeystick” growth chart. I doubt it occurs. But oil itself will become less valuable – thus keeping its price down for a while even as more transportation evolves to be based on renewable energy.

  • Steve Withers

    Denmark is run by conservatives (the Venstre party) since mid-2015… of course they are rolling back environmental policies of the previous government.

    Conservatives everywhere are environmental and climate saboteurs. Denmark is sadly typical in this regard under their current government, pandering to global corporates at the expense of their own citizens….and the planet.

    • nordlyst

      Well, one flaw in that logic is that Norway also has a conservative government, and has had it for longer than Denmark. But the incentives for EVs had been around for much longer here when the conservatives took office.

      The official reasons for the EV policies in Norway are all to do with the environment. But the reality is we got these rules because of similarly corrupt phenomena, or, if you are more charitably inclined, through a mix-up of industrial and environmental policy.

      A startup in Norway called “Think” is what motivated politicians to move. They imagined this could become a huge industrial adventure. And it might have. It doesn’t look like much, and it’s not as easy a sell as a Tesla – but Think owners loved them. Many claim it was much more fun to drive than any of the current crop (with the i3 coming closest). Anyway, when EVs were way below one percent of the market here as well this was a relatively cheap way to help out Think. Thanks to EU rules they couldn’t make rules that favored the national champion, so they framed the issue as an environmental one.

      Of course, what motivated the rules have little to do with respect to the effects of them. Ford bought Think and quickly decided to take it nowhere. But none of the politicians could easily explain why the environmental reasons they used to vote in favor no longer applied, and since Norways public finances remain pretty healthy at least for the time being it’s easier to let it go than spend political capital on the issue.

      But as far as judging the morality and purity of intent of the Norwegian government… well, don’t read too much into it!

  • Ozzie Perch

    So, will there be a ‘getaway car’s ‘subroutine, like a cab, where you can say ‘go’ and then decide the destination once you have departed scene of the crime?!

  • bytrain

    So, in an era of climate change and rising sea levels, the country with an average elevation of less than 102 feet above sea level, and 4 of its 5 largest cities at or just above sea level, believes it unwise to continue to invest in efforts to combat climate change. Makes perfect sense.