July 1, 2019 / 2:09 PM / 15 days ago

Electric cars grab almost half of sales in oil-producing Norway

FILE PHOTO: A 2018 Tesla Model 3 electric vehicle is shown in this photo illustration taken in Cardiff, California, U.S., June 1, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

OSLO (Reuters) - Almost half of new cars sold in Norway in the first six months of 2019 were powered by fully electric engines, up from just over a quarter in the same period last year, ensuring the Nordic nation retains its top global ranking in electric vehicle sales.

Tesla’s (TSLA.O) Model 3 was Norway’s top-selling vehicle, the Norwegian Road Federation (NRF) said when announcing the latest sales data on Monday.

In total, 48.4% of all new cars sold from January to June were electric, surpassing the 31.2% seen for the full year 2018, and making oil-producing Norway the global leader in per-capita electric car sales by a wide margin.

Seeking to end the sale of diesel and petrol engines by the middle of the next decade, Norway exempts battery-driven cars from the heavy taxes imposed on vehicles powered by fossil fuel. It also offers benefits such as discounts on road tolls.

The policy has boosted brands such as Tesla, Nissan (7201.T), Hyundai (005380.KS) and BMW (BMWG.DE), which all offer fully electric vehicles, rather than hybrids that use electric motors to drive the car but also have a combustion engine.

Brands without fully electric offerings, such as Ford (F.N) and Daimler’s (DAIGn.DE) Mercedes-Benz, have seen sales drop, although Ford and Mercedes are among several auto makers that have promised to offer electric cars in Norway from 2020.

California-based Tesla sold 3,760 vehicles in Norway in June, for a 24.5% share of all cars during the month, and was also the top-selling brand for the first six months.

Most of its sales were of the mid-sized Model 3, while the bigger Model S and Model X have seen lower year-on-year volumes.

The International Energy Agency (IEA), which includes the more widely-sold plug-in hybrids when counting electric cars, measured Norway’s share at 39% of sales in 2017, far ahead of second-placed Iceland on 12% and Sweden on 6%.

Reporting by Terje Solsvik and Gwladys Fouche; Editing by Edmund Blair

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