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This article was published on June 2, 2021

EV adoption: The UK is catching up with electric car lovers Norway

33 countries ranked: Scandinavia is great for EVs, Eastern Europe not so much

EV adoption: The UK is catching up with electric car lovers Norway
Matthew Beedham
Story by

Matthew Beedham

Editor, SHIFT by TNW

Matthew is the editor of SHIFT. He likes electric cars, and other things with wheels, wings, or hulls. Matthew is the editor of SHIFT. He likes electric cars, and other things with wheels, wings, or hulls.

Have you ever wondered which European country is outdoing the rest when it comes to supporting EV adoption? Me too! Seriously, sometimes it keeps me up at night.

Thankfully I’ll be sleeping easy tonight because the folks over at vehicle leasing firm, Select Car Leasing (SCL), have crunched the numbers ranking 33 European countries to find out who is the best at electric vehicles. Yes, I’m using that as a verb.

SCL ranked countries on 12 metrics including, how many EVs are on the roads, how many EVs each country has per 100,000 inhabitants, the state of public charging, ownership benefits, purchase incentives, and the cost of a Renault Zoe in comparison to the average salary of each nation.

We often look at overall sales figures and how many public charging points a country has, to gain insight into how well it’s supporting the switch to electric cars. So this ranking is quite comprehensive in comparison. Let’s take a look at who came out on top.

Norway is obviously winning

Unsurprisingly, those perennial EV lovers up in Norway top the list. They’re swiftly followed by neighboring Sweden, and third up is the United Kingdom.

uk, Ev adoption ranked, 33 countries
Credit: Select Car Leasing
It’s like Eurovision all over again, except there’s one major difference… the UK isn’t last!!!

While Norway’s love for EVs is well-known among the electrified community, the presence of the UK so high up is perhaps unexpected.

Subsidies are important

On one hand, the country’s EV charging infrastructure is developing at a good rate.  But on the other, the UK government has begun a slow wind down of financial support for EV buyers. It has cut its EV subsidy more than once, and early this year it removed it entirely for cars over £35,000 ($50,000).

In fact, the UK has the 14th best EV subsidies across all of Europe. Based on that metric alone, the likes of Estonia, Germany, and Slovenia, which are all offering substantial amounts towards the purchase of an electric vehicle, lead the charge.

European EV subsidies
Credit: Select Car Leasing
Which European country offers the best subsidies for EV buyers?

When it comes to the number of EVs per 100,000 inhabits, Norway comes into a league of its own. In the Nordic nation there are 8,250 electric cars for every 100,000 people in the country.

In the UK there are just 671 EVs per 100,000 by way of comparison.

EV affordability

One of the most illuminating metrics however is EV affordability. To calculate this, SCL looked at a country’s average yearly salary in comparison to the Renault Zoe, one of the most affordable EVs on the market.

As it happens, countries that have bought a lot of electric cars score favorable under this measure. What this really highlights, though, is that cost is still a huge barrier to entry for many when it comes to choosing an electric car.

electric cars are too expensive
Credit: Select Car Leasing
In many European countries EVs are too expensive for the average buyer.

Many in the UK are still critical of how much EVs cost up front, and maybe they have a point.

The UK didn’t score the worst in this measure, but  it’s far from the best. When the Renault Zoe — a supposedly cheap EV — costs 84% of the yearly average salary, it’s understandable that people say they cost too much.

Ranking 14th means there are 19 other countries where owning an EV is prohibitively expensive for the majority.

Switzerland, a country where people are clearly all pretty well paid, ranks best in this metric. A Renault Zoe costs just 29% of the average yearly wage in the country.

Indeed, we already knew that Norway is kinda of winning when it comes to the game of EV adoption. But this study shows that many other European countries are closing the gap.


Do EVs excite your electrons? Do ebikes get your wheels spinning? Do self-driving cars get you all charged up? 

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