Tesla's Model S overtakes VW Golf as Norway's best-selling car

Reuters

By Joachim Dagenborg

OSLO, Oct 9 (Reuters) - Tesla Motor Inc.'s all-electric Model S became the top-selling car in Norway lastmonth, with drivers in the country of 5 million people paying apremium to buy the award-winning luxury car second-hand to avoidhaving to wait five months for a new one, dealers said onTuesday.

The high performance Tesla S, which went on sale in Europein August, had a market share in Norway of 5.1 percent lastmonth, pushing the conventionally-powered Volkswagen Golf into second place with 4.6 percent, according to the latestofficial figures.

With a claimed top speed of 125 miles per hour andacceleration of 0-60 miles per hour in 5.4 seconds and a rangeof around 300 miles that far outstrips other all-electric cars,the Model S is already a best seller in the United States, withan estimated 14,300 sales made there so far this year.

Some drivers in Norway are now willing to pay as much as$20,000 extra to get the new Model S from existing owners.

"There has been an enormous demand for this car, and itdoesn't seem to stop. We have a lot of customers on the waitinglist right now," said Joar Tenfjord, the head of Tesla'sdealership in Bergen, Norway's second largest city.

Electric cars have been especially popular in Norway becauseof generous subsidies, free parking, government-providedre-charging stations, the right to use express lanes on highwaysand exemptions from tolls.

"You get great value for your money with the Model S inNorway," Tenfjord said. "It is a spacious car ... and it is alsoenvironmentally friendly."

A new Tesla Model S costs $110,000-$117,000 in Norway'snotoriously expensive car market, well above the $70,000 itcosts in the United States, but existing owners willing to partwith their car could get $130,000 for them, Tenfjord said.

Currently only 12 of the new Teslas are available onFinn.no, Norway's top classified website with asking prices ofup to $130,000.

"I have noticed that some people make a very nice profit onthese cars," Tenfjord said. "The demand is extreme."

One of those secondhand buyers, 27-years-old financialconsultant Anders Langset, said a regular car with similarperformance and engine size could have cost him up to 2 millioncrowns ($330,000) because of the punitive taxes Norway'sgovernment levies on cars with big, gas-guzzling engines.

"I paid more for a second-hand car than I would have paid ifI bought it when it was new, but the demand is so high that I amsure I would get my money back and then some if I sold it againtoday", Langset told Reuters.

"I made a bet with my brother and father about who could getthe car first, so I really enjoyed beating them," he said.

A BMW Series 5 sells in the $100,000-$115,000range in Norway, below the Model S, but its internal combustionengine is less powerful. Cars with conventional engines ofsimilar power would typically retail for $200,000 and above astaxes are levied on engine size and some car makers actuallysell their vehicles with smaller engines in Norway than the restof Europe to keep them affordable.

Meanwhile no immediate effect has been seen on Norwegiandemand for the Model S after last week's video emerged showing aModel S on fire after an accident near Seattle, which slightlydented this year's meteoric rise in Tesla's share price.

"We have had some questions from customers but it appears tohave been a one-off and it has in no way reduced demand,"Tenfjord said.

Tesla said the fire stemmed from a "highly uncommon occurrence" after the car was driven over a "large, oddly shapedmetal object" which punched a hole through the quarter-incharmour plate protecting the lithium-ion battery pack, and thathad it been a gasoline-powered car "the result could have beenfar worse."

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