OSLO (Reuters) - Electric cars accounted for a 44.3% share of Norway's new car sales in January, rising year on year but falling short of the 50-60% range the industry forecast for 2020, data from the Norwegian Road Federation showed on Monday.
In January 2019 electric cars made up 37.8% of sales in the Nordic country and climbed in subsequent months to an overall 42.4% market share for the full year.
As it seeks to phase out the sale of combustion-engine cars by the middle of this decade, oil-producer Norway has exempted battery-powered vehicles from taxes imposed on those running on petrol and diesel.
As a result of the policy, Norway has the world's highest rate of electric vehicle use, making it a valuable testing ground as car makers seek to promote new models.
In January, German auto maker Audi's <NSUG.DE> fully-electric e-tron sports utility vehicle was Norway's top-selling car for the second time in four months, hitting a market share of 9.4%, registration data showed.
Audi delivered 902 electric SUVs, ahead of Renault's Zoe with 533 cars and Volkswagen's <VOWG_p.DE> Golf with 511.
In 2019, Tesla's <TSLA.O> mid-sized Model 3 was by far the most popular car in Norway with some 15,700 vehicles sold for the full year, racking up an 11% share of the market.
The California-based firm last week announced it would start early deliveries of its Model Y, a crossover utility vehicle, amid rising competition from the likes of Volkswagen, Ford <F.N>, Audi, Volvo and Daimler AG <DAIGn.DE>.
(Reporting by Terje Solsvik; Editing by David Goodman, Kirsten Donovan)