March 22 (UPI) -- The number of electric vehicles registered by Norwegian drivers has increased by more than 40 percent from the previous year, the government said.
Statistics Norway, the government's record-keeping agency, reported there were 142,490 total electric cars registered in the country at the beginning of the year, up more than 40 percent from one year ago. Passenger vehicles made up 97 percent of that total.
Data for members of the European Union show the market share of hybrid and battery-powered electric vehicles make up about 1 percent of the total market, though trends are accelerating as consumer interest grows.
The Norwegian government said electric vehicles make up about 5 percent of the passenger fleet, compared with 3.7 percent at the end of 2016.
"The increase seems set to continue at about the same rate in 2018," the agency stated. "In January and February this year, 4,324 electric cars were registered, 4.2 percent more compared to the same period in 2017."
The government said tax exemptions, extended range and more access to charging stations are in part behind the trend.
With $11.6 million in funding from the European Commission, German utility company E.ON and service provider CLEVER plan to link the countries connecting Norway to Italy with a network of 180 charging stations for electric vehicles. Charging stations will be spaced every 90 miles or so across Italy, France, Germany, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Norway during the next three years.
British energy company BP reported in an annual forecast that it expected 180 million electric vehicles on the world's roads by 2035. That could crimp global oil demand in the coming years as about 30 percent of total miles driven in 2040 will be fueled by electricity.
There were 3.3 million cars registered in Norway as of Dec. 31, a 1.9 percent increase from the previous year.