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IEA report draws lessons from rapid uptake of EVs in Nordic countries

In proportion to its population, the Nordic region—Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden—is strikingly ahead of the rest of the world in adopting electric cars. With almost 250,000 electric cars at the end of 2017, the five countries account for roughly 8% of the total number of electric cars around the world. Norway, Iceland and Sweden have the highest ratios of EVs per person, globally.

Further, the number of electric vehicles (EVs) in the Nordic region is projected to reach 4 million cars by 2030—more than 15 times the number currently in circulation, according to the International Energy Agency’s Nordic EV Outlook 2018 (NEVO 2018). The report outlines the key factors contributing to successful developments and identifies key lessons to be learned, providing insights for countries currently developing their electric mobility strategies.


The Nordic countries represent the third-largest electric-car market by sales, after China and the United States. Norway leads the way with a 39% market share of electric car sales—the highest globally. Sweden has more than 49,000 electric cars in circulation and accounts for 20% of the total Nordic stock.

This remarkable growth has been driven by strong policy support and ambitious decarbonization goals, putting the region at the forefront of the transition to electric mobility. In this context, IEA intends for Nordic EV Outlook 2018 to provide a useful benchmark and to highlight a series of best practices—and hurdles to avoid—for countries around the world.

Policy support has significantly influenced electric-car adoption across these countries, the main driver being measures that reduce the purchase price of electric vehicles. Other important measures that have proven successful in Nordic countries include a cut to circulation taxes, or local incentives such as waivers or partial exemptions on road-use charges, free parking or allowing access to bus lanes.

The market share of electric cars in Nordic countries tends to be higher when incentives are larger and when the price gap between electric cars and equivalent ICE models is smaller, with the exception of Denmark. Source: IEA. Click to enlarge.

In addition, support for the deployment of infrastructure has supported EV growth, in particular policy support for charging infrastructure. Though around 80% of EV charging takes place at home, wide availability of publicly accessible chargers can encourage consumers to consider the purchase of an electric car while also enabling longer distance trips.

The continued policy ambition across the Nordic region—demonstrated by commitments to decarbonize the energy system, targets for EV deployment and specific announcements on strengthening policy measures over the next few years—suggests that their electric-car fleet will continue to grow significantly. Norway, for example, has a stated ambition to sell only zero-emission cars by 2025.

Despite their relatively large number, electric cars in the region accounted for less than 1% of total electricity demand in 2017. Given the resilient Nordic power grid, this small share of power demand has not caused issues for electricity distribution networks to date. By 2030, the estimated power demand to serve 4 million electric cars is expected to be around 9 terawatt-hours (TWh) – or the equivalent to about 2-3% of projected electricity demand. This increase will need to be addressed through demand management to limit the need for grid upgrades.

Nordic EV Outlook 2018 is a result of collaboration between the IEA and Nordic Energy Research (NER).



With the same hydro/wind clean e-energy situation as Norway, our electrified vehicles sale account for about 1% instead of 39%.

Our huge current local hydro/wind electricity surplus (for the next 12 to 15 years) would be enough for close to 100% electrified vehicle fleet but we rather pollute with ICEVs and 100% costly dirty imported oil.

We do not make sense at all.

We should do as the European Nordic Countries but (except for a few cases) we don't.


@HarveyD, by "we" do you mean USA?

The article leaves out the most important incentive. Besides the various benefits listed these countries have a huge tax on cars based on their CO2 output which can double the price of the ICE car, so EVs are not just cheaper, they are for a majorportion of the people the difference between affordable and not affordable


I admit the bubble chart makes no sense to me. It claims to include all incentives including CO2 tax and, if I read correctly refers only to the Volkswagen eGolf presumably chosen because it is available in both EV and ICE versions.
If you look at Denmark, it shows that this car receives about $52k worth of incentives and is about 15% cheaper than its ICE counterpart so it looks like to me that you get the car for free and a large additional cash payment just for taking the car off the lot. Yet with all this less than 0.5% BEVs sold in that country! Norway shows about $22k incentive which apparently just brings the price of the eGolf to equal the Golf ICE version. Does the eGolf cost more than twice the Golf?


Sorry Roy, but we live North of the Border where low cost clean e-energy is 95% Hydro and 5% Wind. We sell about 10% of the surplus to USA (North Eastern States) and another 5% to Ontario.

Another 10% to 20% surplus is not used with the exception a very few very cold windy days due to electric heating and electric hot water heaters. New, fully controllable 3-elements hot water heaters, can/will reduce peak demands and increase surpluses. Secondly, installed new monitors/meters can/will soon control/regulate electric house heating to further reduce peak demands. Thirdly, weather change (warming) brings in more rain and wind = increased production from existing and future facilities.

Clean energy to charge 2+ BEVs/FCEVs per family will not be a problem.

Unfortunately (too bad), the local Provincial Government is using 2/3 of the $3B Quebec Hydro yearly benefits for general expenditures (health, education, security, justice etc) and not for public BEV charging facilities or H2 facilities for FCEVs.

Sales of BEVs and FCEVs will remain very low unless ultra quick charging facilities and H2 stations are multiplied.


Sales of BEVs in Sweden has stagnated in January-February this year.


Very high EV batteries price, poor performance (slow charge, too heavy etc), reduced performances in cold weather and not enough ultra quick charge facilities are keeping BEV's sales low in many places.

EV sales will/may pick up when:

1. Much better (4X or 5X) lower cost mass produced EV batteries are available.
2. Many more ultra quick charging (400 KW or more) facilities are installed.
3. When more ultra light weight materials are used to reduce BEVs weight
4. Subsidies are raised to cover close to 100% of the on board batteries.

Meanwhile, PHEVs and HEVs, with smaller more efficient ICEs, may be a good interim solution.

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