Tesla (TSLA) topped Norway’s car sales for a third straight year in 2023, extending its lead over rivals despite an ongoing conflict between the US electric vehicle maker and the Nordic region’s powerful labour unions.
Almost five out of six new cars sold in Norway last year were powered by battery only, with Tesla’s share of the overall market rising to 20.0 per cent from 12.2 per cent, registration data showed on Tuesday.
Electric vehicles accounted for 82.4 per cent of new vehicles sold in 2023, up from 79.3 per cent in 2022, the Norwegian Road Federation (OFV) said.
Seeking to become the first nation to end the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2025, oil-producing Norway exempts fully electric vehicles from many taxes imposed on internal combustion engine rivals, although some levies were introduced in 2023.
Tesla faces a backlash from unions and pension funds in the Nordic region as the automaker refuses to accept a demand from Swedish mechanics for collective bargaining rights covering wages and other conditions.
As a result, Swedish dockworkers, truck drivers, postal employees, electricians, cleaners and others refuse to service Tesla, and have won backing from unions in Norway, Denmark and Finland who help block imports of Tesla cars into Sweden.
Still, there is no sign that the conflict is hurting Tesla sales in Norway, said Christina Bu, head of the Norwegian EV Association.
“We see no signals indicating that,” Bu told Reuters.
The biggest brands by market share after Tesla were Toyota (7203.T) with 12.4 per cent, up from 8.0 per cent, and Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) with 10.8 per cent, down from 11.6 per cent.
The Tesla Model Y, a mid-size crossover SUV retailing from 452,000 Norwegian crowns ($44,250), was again the most popular model of the year, ahead of Volkswagen’s electric ID.4 and the Skoda Enyaq.
Bu said the market share of electric cars could rise to 95 per cent in 2024, a year before parliament’s 100 per cent goal is to be reached.
“It is a big jump but we’ve had a similar jump previously, from 2021 to 2022, where we had a jump of almost 15 percentage points, so I think we can do it in 2024,” said Bu.
Moller Mobility Group, Norway’s biggest car retailer which sells the Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda brands, predicted EVs would take a 90 per cent market share in 2024, leaving “much work” still to reach the 2025 goal.
Tesla did not immediately reply to a request for comment on its sales in Norway.
In Norway’s capital Oslo, more than one third of the city’s private cars are now fully electric, a number that could reach 50 per cent in the next two years, Bu predicted.
But while noise and air pollution have eased, not everyone is happy. Some electric car owners complain about a lack of street charging points and argue current policies favour those who can afford their own.
“An electric car should be a real option for anyone… no matter if you live in a building with parking or no parking,” said Oslo resident Inger Sophie Finch.
($1 = 10.2148 Norwegian crowns)