Rapid Transformation in the Norway New Car Market and Japanese Car Makers’ Sales Strategy

Publication Type:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Paris (2018)


Key words: Transformation, Strategy, Renewable Energy, Powertrain, EV, PHV, FCV, HV

Norway is currently one of the front runners in the transformation from fossil fuel powered transportation toward zero emission transportation. The market share of eco-friendly cars (EV, PHV, HV) occupying Norway’s new car market has surged in recent years. In 2012 it was just 7%, in 2016 it reached 40.2%. The EV market alone was 15.7% in 2016.
This study aims to investigate how Norway has been able to evolve toward a zero-emission society and to clarify how Japanese car makers implement their product introduction strategy to adapt to this market change.
In order to achieve this purpose, we interviewed Nissan Nordic Europe (June, 19, 2017) and Toyota Norge AS and Toyota ASKER OG Baerum (June, 19, 2017). We also conducted fieldwork in Iceland (TICE , interview, June 16, 2017). Though Iceland is achieving its renewable energy goals, it is still struggling to reduce CO2 emissions, in contrast with Norway.
In this study, we analyzed the elements of Norway’s rapid transformation based on the domestic market, technological innovations, and social system in the new car industry.
Firstly, Norway’s new car market, which is 155,000 units per year, has been dominated by imported cars, despite having a number of promising domestic EV ventures including “Think” in the past. The top three players are VW, Toyota, and BMW. In other words, Norway is a consumer, not a producer, of new cars. Norway does not have to protect a domestic car industry. That is seen as one of the reasons why Norway’s government is motivated to push their aggressive CO2 emission reduction policy.
Secondly, our study suggests, in terms of technology systems, innovation and diffusion of infrastructure is important, as is the development of powertrain technology. The range of EV vehicles was 150-200km between 2010 and 2015. Now EV range is estimated to grow to 200—500km between 2015 and 2020. As a result, range anxiety is decreasing. Moreover, fast-charging battery technology is evolving. A number of car makers and charging station manufacturers have begun to offer 30-minute charging systems. Currently, Norway has almost 8000 EV charging stations.
Thirdly, in terms of social systems, we found both the government’s environmental policy composed of incentives and regulations, and the composition of power generation and its sustainability were key factors influencing the new car market. Norway’s government has set a goal to stop selling conventional (CO2 emitting) new cars after 2025. Since 2007, they have had an automobile tax system based on CO2 emissions and EV incentives including a zero-emission tax deduction.
In addition, we investigated whether Norway’s electric power generation methods are eco-friendly and stable. The answer to this is important to the spread of EVs. Hydroelectric and pumped-power facilities generate 94% of Norway’s electricity.
The rapid transformation in Norway’s new car market is forcing Japanese car makers to change their strategies. Nissan has been successful in adapting to market changes in Norway by introducing EVs in 2011. On the other hand, Toyota, which is the leader of HV technology, is facing substantial mid-term risk in losing its historically strong position in Norway. Toyota is considering intensifying production of EVs and fuel cell vehicles in response to this threat.

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