Despite labor dispute, Tesla takes the crown in sales in Sweden, Norway

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It’s no surprise that Norway is leading the world in EV adoption, but 2023 saw the country reach new heights with electric vehicles taking a record 82% market share, and Tesla with a whopping 20% market share. And despite Tesla’s ongoing labor disputes in the region and blocks on imports, new car registrations for Tesla vehicles in Sweden grew by 9% in December.

In Norway, the American EV maker is leading the charge with 20% market share, a huge jump from last year’s 12.2%, according to Reuters. Five out of six new cars sold in Norway were BEVs last year, with Tesla beating out rivals for the lead market share.

Oil-producing Norway has been on the fast track in its transition to electric forms of transportation. Tesla has led the charge with its top-selling Model Y, boosted by the country’s generous tax exemptions for fully electric cars. Tesla was the best-selling car brand in Norway for the third year in a row, with almost one in four new passenger car registrations being a Tesla Model Y, Reuters reports.

Norwegians have enjoyed considerable incentives in transitioning to electric vehicles. But the country has started rolling back on those perks, partly due to the huge growth in EV ownership but also to encourage fewer private cars on the road (even electric ones) in favor of walking, cycling, and public transport. As of 2023, the country has implemented a 25% VAT on the purchase price from 500 000 Norwegian Kroner and over, but Tesla still saw huge gains.

Meanwhile, in Sweden, Tesla market share in Sweden grew by a more modest 6.1% from 4.6% in December, according to Reuters. Data from Mobility Sweden showed 1,789 new Tesla vehicles were registered in December, up from 1,645 in the same month of 2022.

Electrek’s Take

It’s all an impressive achievement for Tesla, which has been embroiled in a three-month-long labor dispute with Sweden’s IF Metall, a union representing a mechanics servicing Tesla cars in the country. The dispute has since expanded to involve 15 other unions taking action against the company until it negotiates a collective bargaining agreement, involving its Nordic neighbors who are joining in solidarity until Tesla signs the collective bargaining agreement with IF Metall. Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk is notoriously anti-union and has described the actions as “insane.”

But for now at least, all the drama doesn’t look like it’s putting much of a dent in Tesla’s sales. But as the strike drags on with no end in sight, and new EV rivals emerge on the scene, in addition to countries peeling back their EV incentives, it may still be too early to call it. For example, Norway’s largest pension fund, KLP, recently drafted a letter to Tesla, describing its “deep concern” over the conflict, saying it is about “fundamental human rights,” the New York Times reported. KLP holds Tesla shares worth about $210 million shares.

So, while it’s too early to know how it will play out for Tesla, the culture clash between the American automaker and Nordic way of life isn’t simmering down any time soon.  

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