Nissan recently sent out a release to the automotive press touting the fact that the company had sold 1,000 Nissan Leafs in Norway in just six months. The company went on to claim that the Leaf became the second-best selling Nissan in Norway and the ninth-best selling passenger car overall in February, claiming almost 2 percent of the total car market in February.
Big deal. Auto journalists are inundated with non-news stories like this everyday. Scanning the headline, ignoring the contents and pressing delete becomes all too routine.
But dig a bit deeper into the Nissan-Norway connection and the Leaf’s success becomes a bit more intriguing: The Leaf is selling so well because the country of Norway actually seems committed to a serious alternative fuel transportation strategy and has taken concrete steps to make electric vehicles not only viable, but an attractive, common sense choice for consumers.
How did they do it? Infrastructure and incentives.
Norway has the highest level of support in Europe for electric vehicle purchases. There’s zero value-added tax (VAT) and no new car tax. EV drivers also get free parking, exemption from some tolls and the use of bus lanes in Oslo. The existing on-street charging infrastructure in Oslo currently has approximately 3,500 public charging points in Oslo, many of them free to use.
Olivier Paturet, general manager of Zero Emission Strategy at Nissan Europe noted, “We are very happy to see that the ambition of the Norwegian government has matched our own with strong support for the widespread introduction of electric vehicles. The Norwegian package of incentives is unsurpassed and the recharging infrastructure is established and accessible. We can see that Norway is leading the way with its proactive approach to encouraging its citizens to drive electric vehicles. We hope it will continue with the further development and upgrading of the charging infrastructure.”