The epicenter of the world’s burgeoning trade in electric cars is Norway, which is drawing record shipments of Teslas and other models from the U.S., South Korea and transshipment ports like Antwerp and Rotterdam, according to import and export statistics published by Trade Data Monitor.
The Nordic nation of 5.3 million imported $3.8 billion in 2018 and $1.01 billion worth of electric vehicles in the first quarter of 2019, roughly doubling amounts the previous year, and outpacing much bigger economies like China, France, Canada and the U.S.
Norway’s top sources of electric cars over that 15-month period were the U.S. ($1.24B) and Germany ($793.3M).
The world’s top exporter of electric cars in the first quarter of 2019 was the U.S., with $2.16 billion worth shipped out. Its top destinations, in order, were Belgium, China, Canada, South Korea and the Netherlands. A big portion of the exports to the first and fifth countries were reexports to Norway, trade data shows.
The second and third top exporters of electric vehicles in the first quarter of 2019 were Germany and South Korea.
The latter’s shipments of electric cars increased almost 300% in the first quarter of 2019 from the same period a year before, to $499.9 million, heading mainly to the U.S., Netherlands and Norway.
Despite its massive gas industry, Norway has gone full force into the adoption of zero-emission cars, enacting a range of subsidies to promote their use. Zero-emission cars don’t pay the 25% Value Added Tax (VAT) and are exempt from Norway’s carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide and weight taxes imposed on gas and diesel vehicles. They also get discounts on parking, toll roads and ferries.
The results have been dramatic: Of the roughly 18,000 new cars registered in the country in March 2019, 10,732, or over 55%, were zero-emission vehicles, more than double the number of zero-emission vehicles sold in March 2018.
The star of this movement is Tesla: 5,315 Model 3 sedans were registered in March, setting a record for sales of a single car model in a single month. Meanwhile, the number of gas and diesel vehicle sales dropped to a record low.
John W. Miller is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker who covered trade, mining and global economics as a foreign correspondent for the Wall Street Journal.