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Norway has fallen in love with electric cars – but the affair is coming to an end

Free parking, incentives and driving in bus lanes push Tesla Model S and Nissan Leaf to top of best-seller lists

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John Vidal in Tromsø, Wednesday 29 January 2014 09.48 EST
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Electric Cars in Oslo, Norway
A driver leaves a free car park reserved for electric vehicles in Oslo. Photograph: Alister Doyle/Reuters

Norway’s traffic jams are becoming the cleanest and quietest in the world due to a flood of drivers buying electric cars which now power around the country’s cities on hydro-electricity, competing for free charging points.

For three months at the end of 2013, the luxury electric sports car the Tesla Model S and Nissan Leaf family electric car were the best-selling models among all cars sold in the country, beating popular and conventionally-fuelled cars including the VW Golf.

The latest figures suggest that over 21,000 all-electric vehicles (EVs) are now registered in the country of 5 million people with sales running at over 1,200 a month, or over 10% of all sales. That compares with a total of around 70,000 EVs registered in the US with a population of 313 m, and just 5,000 in the UK with apopulation of 63m. Dealers expect there to be more in Oslo than in Los Angeles and San Francisco combined within a year.

The Nordic rush for zero-emission vehicles, which have a range of just over 100 miles in the case of the Leaf, is less inspired by concern for the environment than for the chance of free commuting in the bus lane and generous incentives, says the industry.


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