By on May 15, 2013

Last time I spoke with you, we went to our traditional monthly worldwide Roundup, spending time praising the ever-impressive performance of the Nissan Qashqai. This week I take you to Norway, the new land of the Nissan Leaf…

Contrasting with the rest of Europe, Norwegian new car sales are in great shape in April, up 29 percent year-on-year to 13,988 registrations which brings the year-to-date total back into positive at 47,684 units, up 4 percent on 2012.

If the VW Golf unsurprisingly flies above the competition with 903 sales and 6.5 percent share now that the Mazda CX-5 is out of sight at #16, the big event this month is the continuous progression of the Nissan Leaf, now #2 at 455 units and a 3.3 percent share.

This is by far the Leaf’s best ranking anywhere in the world, and no less than the fourth consecutive record month for the Nissan Leaf in Norway, after ranking #4 with 297 units and 2.8% in March#5 with 287 sales and 2.5% in February and #9 in January.

In fact, Norway is the only country in the world where the Nissan Leaf has managed to break into the monthly Top 10!

This is another proof (if we needed one) that government incentives are the key (for now) to success for electric cars. Norwegian buyers of the Nissan Leaf  benefit from priority lines to avoid congested traffic, similarly to what was done with the Toyota Prius in California.

You can be sure you’ll be the first to know if the Leaf manages the historical feat of taking the lead of the Norwegian models ranking in the coming months!

Matt Gasnier, based in Sydney, Australia, runs a blog named Best Selling Cars, dedicated to counting cars all over the world.

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13 Comments on “Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: The Nissan Leaf Found Its Home In Norway...”

  • avatar

    I’ve been told that in Alaska and Northern Canada almost everyone has a block heater and most locations: homes, apartments, hotels, office buildings, stores, etc. have plugs available at most parking spaces. Is that true in Norway as well?

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    This actually makes a lot of sense. First off, I believe all most all Norwegian electricity is generated by hydropower. So, unlike when it’s driven in, say, Washington DC, the Leaf driven in Oslo is a true zero emissions vehicle, even if you look all the way back to the power source.

    Secondly, although I don’t know this for a fact, I would expect that electricity in Norway is cheap because it does come from hydropower. The cheapest electricity in North America comes from hydro.

    Finally, if I am not mistaken, Norway, like the UK runs on 220v electricity, not 110v, so adding an outlet to charge your Leaf is not a big deal.

    While Norway has a long winter, I don’t know that its major cities are extraordinarily cold, in part, because they are adjacent to large bodies of water which tend to moderate the temperature. Certainly it’s not the optimum environment for the Leaf to operate, unlike coastal California. Also, I understand that the discharge of the batteries generates heat, so perhaps, once its operating, the Leaf warms its own batteries. Therefore, perhaps cold is a smaller problem for the Leaf than southern-Arizona style summer heat.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      How many amps does a typical eurosocket put out though? I think you’ll still need a dedicated 30A or greater circuit for EV use..

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, all of that is true! Norwegian costal cities (where most of the leafs are sold) don’t actually get that cold. In Bergen, where I spend a large portion of my time, it rarely drops below -5 degrees C in winter.

      I’m glad you wrote about this Matt, since I wondered why I see so many Leafs here! If I lived in Norway, i’m sure i’d think about buying one as well and I have never bought a new car. A Renault Twizzy would be great too, although only with doors.

      One thing that no body has mentioned is that Norwegian geography is almost perfect for electric cars. Since the country is so far from Europe and the speeds are so low (50mph MAX), nobody actually drives far from their home town. So an electric car is perfect for everything, except maybe the trip to the winter cabin. Also, Norwegians are rich and fuel is more expensive than even mainland Europe – makes for a very compelling purchase!

  • avatar

    The Volkswagen Golf starts from 242,300 NOK or 41,300 USD in Norway, and that is for the base 85 horsepower 1.2 TSI. You can get a Leaf cheaper, as those only cost 240,690 NOK or 41,050 USD – and it’s bound to be snappier than the base model Golf. Were you to buy a 105-horsepower turbodiesel Golf in Norway, the price for those is 284,000 NOK or 48,440 USD.

    For the record, in Germany the base Golf is 16,975 eur or 21,830 USD. The Leaf costs 33,990 eur or 43,720 USD – so it’s actually cheaper in Norway, where everything is usually super expensive.

    • 0 avatar

      Cars are absurdly expensive in Norway. They have crazy high car taxes based on age and weight of the car, and it gets to be pretty expensive to buy new cars. Even something like a 5-year old Mercedes GL with 60-80K miles (100K-130K km, really) would probably still be in the $90-100K range in Norway, if not more.

      On various forums, I’ve seen people do some interesting stuff with their cars in Scandinavian countries because the tax system is so aggressive. They often will retrofit options, rather than buying cars with a lot of options. You will sometimes see some strange projects, but it means a lot of DIYs if you are so inclined.

  • avatar

    Norwegians can afford to be as flighty as they are because of oil revenue. They’re like Saudi princes sitting on gold camel saddles rimmed with Oyster Perpetual watch faces. They don’t have to be smart. Finding out that they’re driving electric cars is like finding out that Lynchburg, Tennessee is a dry county and everyone there is addicted to crack while the Jack Daniels is for export only.

  • avatar

    “Norwegian buyers of the Nissan Leaf benefit from priority lines to avoid congested traffic”

    And there you have it – the main explanation why the Leaf is such a success in Norway. Norway has grossly neglected its infrastructure for decades (all in the name of saving the planet, of course), with traffic congestions as a result, but the Leaf allows Norwegians to use the loophole that is the priority line (again in the name of saving the planet). When that loophole is inevitably closed in a few years’ time, expect new Leaf (and EV) sales to crash and resale values to plummet.

    • 0 avatar

      I remember seeing somewhere that Norway has some of the most spectacular road infrastructure anywhere, with tunnels and bridges connecting every half inhabited nook and cranny of the entire country. But perhaps the cities have been neglected in favor of fancy looking roadways primarily for tourist consumption.

  • avatar

    Norway give electric car buyers an exemption for new car taxes that otherwise double the price of a normal car versus low tax countries such as Germany or the USA. Then they get exemptions from annual road taxes of about $500 per year. They also are exempted from road tolls and get free parking and free battery recharging. There are also some further exemptions from business car taxes, plus of course free use of bus lanes to go around rush hour congestion. All totalled it can easily add up to benefits of $5,000 to $10,000 per year, of which about 90% goes to the wealthiest two suburbs in Norway just outside Oslo. For this gift from Norwegian taxpayers, environmental benefits are virtually nil, and surveys find that nearly all buyers have purchased the electric car as a second car that they would otherwise not have purchased, and use the car for trips that they formerly used mass-transit, bikes, walking or other clean methods of transport. I’ve done an academic study of this and the taxpayer return on investment using optimistic assumptions is -98% or worse.

    • 0 avatar

      Hey, 98% is at least better return on investment than the US is achieving by constructing bommbcraters in Afghanistan. In fact, it sound pretty average as far as government projects go.

      Your point about 90% going to the wealthiest suburbs (which I’m sure is where the political and media classes primarily reside), pretty much parallels the workings of the US government as well. New laws to giver jobs to lawyers, bailouts to banks, franchise laws to prevent anyone from competing with the already wealthy, zoning laws and rob-the-poor interest rates to keep barely improved plots of dirt valuable for their gilded owners, special lane access for Prius owners, until Priuses start showing up on the used market for the less priviliges – the it’s special lane access only for the newest, most expensive Prius plugin,…….. Heck, at least government is working. The only way it possibly could work.

  • avatar

    Carlos Ghosn’s master plan at work. Now he has three Leaf car and battery assembly plants worldwide.

    The new Leaf assembly addition to the Nissan plant in Sunderland UK is just a short ferry ride across the North Sea to Norway.

    Yup, Ghosn nailed it. The Brits themselves couldn’t figure out why Nissan expanded their plant to make more EVs, but welcomed the investment and 474 jobs. After all, everyone usually forgets Norway. But not our canny Carlos.

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