Toothless Tesla: Norway’s record-breaking car is breaking in record numbers


“Å faen!”

What is the best-selling car in Norway? In the past, nobody would have cared who’s topping the list of a country that is good for 150,000 units total in a good year. Things are changing, and everybody knows: Of course, the best-selling car in Norway is Tesla’s Model S. Type “Best-selling car Norway” into Google, and see what that’ll get you. Click a little more, and you’ll be convinced that Norway is Europe’s EV-wonderland. Says Freakonomics:

“By most measures, Norway is among the greenest countries on Earth. It gets virtually all of its electricity from hydropower; it plans to cut its greenhouse emissions by 30% by 2020; and it has more electric vehicles per capita than any country in the world.”

Of course, the roads of that electric nirvana are filled with nothing else than beautiful blondes and even more gorgeous Model S.

Except that it’s not true. The Model S part, at least. The car is at the bottom of the list.

Norway’s best-selling cars
October 2014
October Share Jan-Oct Share
1 Volkswagen Golf 1,038 8.0% 7,819 6.5%
2 Skoda Octavia 483 3.7% 3,674 3.1%
3 Toyota Auris 480 3.7% 4,647 3.9%
4 Toyota Yaris 440 3.4% 3,218 2.7%
5 Nissan Leaf 372 2.9% 4,117 3.4%
6 Volvo V70 343 2.6% 2,256 1.9%
7 Volvo V40 337 2.6% 2,572 2.1%
8 Mazda CX-5 331 2.6% 3,262 2.7%
9 Volkswagen up! 326 2.5% 3,308 2.8%
10 Nissan Qashqai 296 2.3% 2,638 2.2%
11 Toyota Rav4 279 2.2% 3,116 2.6%
12 Peugeot 308 260 2.0% 1,696 1.4%
13 Mitsubishi Outlander 229 1.8% 2,595 2.2%
14 Volkswagen Tiguan 227 1.8% 1,933 1.6%
15 Audi A3 221 1.7% 1,960 1.6%
16 Suzuki SX4 208 1.6% 1,874 1.6%
17 Volkswagen Passat 169 1.3% 1,968 1.6%
18 Ford Focus 139 1.1% 1,732 1.4%
19 BMW i3 130 1.0% 1,764 1.5%
20 Tesla Model S 36 0.3% 3,571 3.0%
All cars 12,963 120,067
Source: OFV

Jalopnik said end of October 2014 that “the Tesla Model S is the #1 selling car in Norway.” Not even close. In October, the best-selling car in Norway was the Volkswagen Golf with 1,038 sold. The Model S was way down in #20. Ah, sorry, you meant year to date, January through October 2014? Also not true. Again, that would be that CO2-belching Volkswagen Golf.
In the same month the Model S was last on Norway’s list, Green Car Reports called it “one of the country’s best-selling vehicles.” As the Model S hit new lows in Norway, Revolution Green trumpeted: “The Tesla S was the biggest selling car in Norway last month. Norway has given a hint to the future what governments and private enterprise can do to assist in the uptake of electric vehicles.”


If it’s not true, how did the rumor start that the Norwegian green super-humans prefer Teslas above everything else? In all of 2014, the Model S was Norway’s best-selling car in only one month. In March 2014, a whopping 1,493 Model S rolled off the boa(s)t and were registered in the ancestral lands of the Vikings. In the month before, the count was 431, in the month thereafter, it was 171. Model S sales have been trending down ever since, in October, a grand total of 36 changed hands.

Elon Musk himself said in a recent conference call:

“Part of the reason why we don’t release the monthly deliveries number is just because it varies quite a lot by region and the media tends to read all sorts of nonsense into the deliveries. So, we’ll have 1,000 cars reach a country one month and none the next month or 100 the next month trickle in because those are the numbers that were registered one month versus the next. People will say, ‘oh, wow, Tesla sales drop by a factor of 10.’ ”

Actually, people do the opposite. People say Tesla is the bestselling car. Tesla did and does nothing to correct this erroneous impression. Usually, Tesla’s PR department is very quick to reach out when the slightest mistake needs to be corrected. Bigger boo-boos get the honor of a tweet by Musk himself. Did anyone see Musk tweet: “@Jalopnik: Model S not Norway’s best-selling car. Stop writing nonsense!” Instead, Jalopnik’s best-selling nonsense is quoted on Tesla’s own website.


In Norway, a gallon of gasoline costs around $8. Electric cars are heavily subsidized, no sales tax, no registration fee, you’d be stupid if you use an ICE. The Norwegians prefer to sell their oil elsewhere. Hypocrisy and NIMBY cubed, the Norwegians finance their green leanings by exporting oil and gas worth more than a million tons of CO2 per day. And yet, as the chart shows, the best-selling car in the alleged land of electric milk and honey is a boring, gasoline-powered Golf, followed by an even more boring Toyota Auris. January through October, Nissan’s Leaf is in place 3 of Norway’s best-selling cars, preserving the green honor of the Scandinavian country by a hair. The way the charts look, Tesla sales have peaked in spring, the tiny market for EV luxury in the tiny country already appears saturated. In Norway, Tesla is being displaced by global auto giants.

If it doesn’t work in the green paradise, how will it perform in the grey real world?

Tesla’s future in the green paradise doesn’t look so bright anyway. “Tesla owners in Norway are experiencing major engine problems,” writes Norway Today. A driveshaft is losing its teeth. 1,200 Model S need new motors. According to the report, “the production of engines with errors happens to coincide with a time when a large amount of Norwegian cars were produced.”

Looks like those record-breaking Model S from March are breaking in record numbers.

Tomorrow: Musk’s pants on fire