Surprise! Norway’s Best-Selling Car Is the Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

While Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) and its cars have made quite a splash in the auto industry by merely being present, the company has yet to hit a milestone that indicates the company is a genuine contender with the automotive giants in Michigan, Germany, and Japan, rather than just a boutique manufacturer spitting out fancy, tech-laden toys for the affluent.

While the latest news may not speak volumes about Tesla’s sales, uh, volume, it certainly shows that the company is well on its way: The Tesla Model S sedan was the best-selling car in Norway in September.

That’s certainly an impressive feat for any manufacturer, let alone one with the production capacity of the Fresno, California-based EV maker, which is expecting to yield around 21,000 Model S sedans this year. By comparison, Ford (NYSE:F) sold more than 60,000 units of its F-Series pickup last month alone, and although the two vehicles are barely comparable — beyond the fact that they both feature four wheels and a windshield — those numbers put Tesla’s production run into some perspective.

And yet, the Tesla Model S, with its presence in Europe still on the thin side of minimal, has managed to become the best-selling model in the Scandinavian country for September. As John Voelcker at Green Car Reports points out: “Not the best-selling electric car. Not the best-selling car with a plug. … the Tesla Model S was the best-selling car, period.”

Tesla model-s-blue-rear_960x640_0

While this statement is in fact the case, there are a few grains of salt to be taken with the news, as there always are. Firstly, Norway saw new car sales of just 12,168 during that period, of which 616 were Teslas. That number would be a minuscule drop in the domestic market. “The comparable figure for the U.S. is less than 1 percent,” Voelcker notes. But in Norway, that’s a pretty big deal.

“While Tesla was only 20th out of 40 brands in total sales, all of its sales were of one single model,” Voelcker wrote at Green Car Reports. “Other brands, including the leader Volkswagen (at 1,512 total sales), had sales spread across multiple models.”

Moreover, the fact that Norway is a strong market for Tesla is not a coincidence or an accident. Norway offers some of the most generous benefits to owners of electric vehicles of all makes, the publication pointed out in March. At the time, the country’s various subsidies for electric vehicles amounted to as much as $8,200 per car, per year.

Tesla Model S Red

“That’s partly down to Norway’s heavy taxation, which sees the prices of regular cars pushed significantly higher than they are elsewhere. A basic Volkswagen Golf, that costs the equivalent of $24,600 in the United Kingdom, can cost $42,000 in Norway,” Green Car Reports explained at the time.

However, the subsidies may actually be more accurately described as tax credits, as EV buyers in Norway are reportedly exempt from the stiff taxes that the country crowns other products with. So instead of subsidizing EVs, the hefty tax found on gasoline vehicles is simply not there.

It would appear that this combination of favorable circumstances led to Tesla’s dominance in the region, though it can’t be ignored that the pricey Model S still beat out its cheaper, fellow EV in the Nissan Leaf. Together, the two accounted for 85 percent of all of Norway’s plug-in sales. Moreover, Tesla’s sales there provide some optimistic insight into the company’s foray into the international markets — Tesla delivered its first Model S in Norway back in July.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this post misspelled the name of John Voelcker.

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