From California to Oslo: foreign subsidies fuel Norway is the e-car-boom, for now

OSLO (Reuters) – On the outskirts of Oslo, a row of Fiat 500es imported from California are parked in the snow outside the Buddy Electric dealer, a part of a global flow of pre-owned electric cars to Norway powered by green subsidies elsewhere in the world.

Maiken Skram of Buddy Electric car dealer business shows the charging of a second-hand Fiat 500e, imported from California, USA, in Oslo, Norway March 15, 2109. Photo March 15, 2019. REUTERS/Alister Doyle

The production manager, Tor Einar Hanssen, said it had sold about 110 in the past year and a half, which makes a small profit on the cars, most of which was used for a few years by the AMERICAN leasing companies.

“They are surprisingly good in cold weather,” he said.

A shiny blue Fiat 500e is for sale at 129,000 Norwegian kroner ($15,000) with 24,000 km (15,000 miles) on the clock. It costs about 20,000 kroner($2,300) to import and to suit every Fiat, Hanssen said.

On AMERICAN car websites, similar Fiats in California are advertised for around $10,000.

Norway is the world’s highest rate of the electric car in the world, thanks to the long-term benefits like free or cheaper road tax, the parking and loading points, which boost the appeal of second-hand models unwanted elsewhere.

The government will also exempt electric vehicles from the tax on the traditional vehicles that are very high in a country that has no own fossil fuel car industry to lobby against them. Discounts are offered by other countries, other part of the equation.

In California, the residents who are owners of a new battery for electric car for at least 30 months can I get a discount of up to $4,500, said John Swanton of the California Air Resources Board.

The Fiats to show how different incentives around the world to promote electric cars encouraged by the efforts to combat climate change and reduce air pollution, can impact on trade.

They can also lead to a distortion of the national objectives for the shift from fossil fuels, although the US exports to Norway of 4,232 used electric cars in the past two years are small in comparison with the sales in the united states. The state of California only wants to have five million zero-emission vehicles on the roads in 2030.

The problem has a greater impact in some European countries, which can over-estimate of the greenness of their national car fleets, due to the export to Norway, where the top of the plug-in cars include Nissan Leafs, Volkswagens <Vow> BMW and Tesla.

“We get a certain amount of vehicle electrification free, paid for by other countries,” said Lasse Fridstroem, a senior research economist at the Norwegian Centre for Transport Research.

“But maybe it won’t be the last,” he said of the e-car imports. He and some car dealers say that the demand for electric cars elsewhere in Europe is picking up, and that Norway would swing to a net-exporter of used electric cars in the coming years.

(For a graphic on ‘second-hand electric vehicles in Norway’ click


At the time, long waiting lists for new electric cars in Norway means that people who obtain a new model in high demand, such as a Tesla Model 3 or a Hyundai, Kona, may re-sell above the list of prices that are already higher than elsewhere.

of the reason is a bottleneck in the new e-car imports. This is caused, to some extent, by incentives for car manufacturers to sell electric cars in the European Union, Norway is not a member, even if they can be directly exported to Norway.

To combat this problem, from January 2019, the sales of new cars in Norway are included in a broader EU-calculation of the greenness of each manufacturer’s European fleet, a goal of the car manufacturer must meet in order to avoid large fines.

This may lead to reduction of Norway is the demand for import, but can also mean that the EU neighbours record less sales.

Last year, plug-in electric cars good for 31.2 percent of the new car registrations in Norway, the highest in the world, and the share increased to 34.2 percent in the second-hand imports, according to the Norwegian Road Federation (OFV). The two figures rose to 40.7 and 43.5 percent in February 2019.

Statistics Norway said 11,913 used electric cars and vans were imported last year, an increase of 9,063 in 2017 when it began to compile data of the second-hand trade.

They are coming from countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, great Britain and South Korea, which a number of the benefits of cleaner air and less noise intended for their citizens to Norway, where the environment is already much cleaner than in many other countries.

Kicked Sandven, a Jaguar Land Rover dealer in the Mountains in the west of Norway, bought for 250 new Kia Soul cars last year in countries, including Germany. After registering them for a day, so they count for the manufacturers of’ green targets under the EU rules, he exported them to undriven to Norway to sell it as a “second hand”.

“They are brand new, plastic still on the seats. The only thing we do is the paperwork,” said Sandven. He said that he was not a German subsidies, because that would mean that possession of the cars for a couple of months in Germany.

“Now it is changing again, now we are exporting cars to other countries,” he said. “Norway is full of used electric cars, and Europe cries out for electric cars. It is changing every year.”


Stockholm strengthened subsidy rules in July last year after finding that about 10 percent of all electric and plug-in hybrids were carried out within five years. Eighty percent of the exports ended up over the border in Norway.

“It is a problem that some of the used electric vehicles, which are subsidised by the Swedish taxpayer, be exported,” said Jacob Lundgren, a spokesperson of the Swedish Environment Minister Isabella Lovin.

Under the new system, from July 2018, Sweden possession of a new electric car for six months prior to the receipt of a 60,000 Swedish crowns ($6,398.50) discount. Previously, they had 40.000 crown discount on the purchase of the car.

Lundgren said that there are still no data available to show when the rule change had made an impact.

With only five million people, Norway bought 46,143 new battery for electric cars in 2018, making it the largest market in Europe, ahead of Germany with 36,216 and France on 31,095, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association.

The EU rules come into effect from 2020-21 will force new cars sold in Europe, including Norway, on average, no more than 95 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre, the automobile manufacturers are faced with hundreds of millions of euros in potential fines for non-compliance.

Other countries tend to be the basis of grants of e-cars is cheap, but lag in the infrastructure, such as charging points. Norway wants all new cars to be zero emission in 2025. Among the other nations, Britain and France have similar goals for 2040.

Electric cars depreciate less rapidly in Norway than elsewhere, partly due to the ongoing benefits, such as the low cost, the ferry and the use of bus lanes to avoid congestion.

“Norway has become a magnet for the rest of Europe in order to ship the used battery electric vehicles,” Matthew Harrison, executive vice president of Toyota Motor Europe, said at the Geneva motor show this month. “To be honest, there is no used car demand for battery-electric vehicles” elsewhere in Europe, ” he said.

Between the sources of the second hand of the entry, the Fridstroem and other economists said they were baffled by that of great Britain. Norway imported 2,147 electric cars of great Britain in 2017, and 133 in 2018, according to the Statistics of Norway.

Second hand Fiat 500e cars, imported from California, USA are show on the Buddy Electric car dealer in Oslo, Norway, March 11, 2109. Photo taken on March 11, 2019. REUTERS/Alister Doyle

The steering wheel in British cars is on the right, the wrong side for driving on the mainland of Europe, making them unattractive in Norway.

A spokesman for the British Ministry of Transport said the main conditions for a plug-in car grants of up to 3,500 kilos ($4,624.55), were buyers of an address in great Britain and the registration of the vehicle in the country.

The Department has no comment when asked whether a number of dealers would be buying electric cars made in Britain, but designed for the mainland of Europe. That is maybe a loophole in the law allowing dealers in the pocket of the subsidy and the export of the car to Norway, but it was not clear why the number of exports had dropped.

With additional reporting by Nichola Groom in Los Angeles and Laurence Frost in Geneva; graphic by Nerijus Adomaitis; editing by Philippa Fletcher

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