Norway – The country of cars

While the overall use of passenger cars in the European Union has decreased, in Norway it is growing at full speed. 


A statistical report recently published by Statistics Norway shows that the use of passenger cars in Norway has increased substantially.

The total annual passenger distance has increased about twelve times since 1960. In 1960, the total amount of passenger-kilometres (pkm) measured in Norway was 5.1 billion. Around 1990, this figure had reached 43 billion pkm, and by 2013, it totaled 61.1 billion.

In the European Union, there is a different situation. While the total passenger distance measured in the EU is much bigger than in Norway (4,613 billion pkm in 2012), it has been declining in the past few years. According to Statistics Norway’s report, the passenger distance registered by the EU in 2012 was the lowest since 2005. Also, just between 2011 and 2012, the figure had decreased by nearly two percent.  

Big on electric cars
Norway’s average motorization rate (the number of passenger cars per 1,000 inhabitants) is close to the EU’s. In 2012, Norway registered 484 passenger cars per 1,000 inhabitants. The average rate in the EU is 487 cars per 1,000 inhabitants, although the differences among individual member states are considerable. Turkey, for instance, has a motorization rate of 114 cars per 1,000 inhabitants, while Italy has a rate of 621.

Over the last seven years, there has been a dramatic rise in the use of electric cars in Norway. In 2008, there were about 1,700 electric cars in the country, while in April 2015, the number reached 50,000. As previously reported by the BarentsObserver, the milestone of 50,000 electric cars was reached two years ahead of the estimated time.

car, cahicle, traffic, road, Patchwork Barents
The total annual passenger distance in Norway has increased about twelve times since 1960. Photo: BarentsObserver

In the Barents Region, the use of passenger cars is increasing as well, and also here Norway stands out. In both Nordland, Troms and Finnmark, the motorization rate exceeded 550 passenger cars per 1,000 inhabitants in 2014, figures from Patchwork Barents show (see visualizations below).

In the two Swedish counties, Norrbotten and Västerbotten, the respective rates are 560 and 499, while the Finnish Barents Region has a rate of about 450 cars per 1,000 inhabitants.

The Russian Barents Region has the lowest motorization rate, ranging from 245 (Nenets AO) to 359 (Republic of Karelia) cars per 1,000 inhabitants among the five subregions.  

This story is published in cooperation with Patchwork Barents.