Electric cars are parked in Oslo, Norway, Jan 2, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]

Drivers in Norway are in the fast lane when it comes to embracing electric vehicles, according to the Norwegian Road Federation, which said the environmentally-friendly automobiles are now outselling conventional gas-guzzlers in the country.

The federation said its research shows Norway is the first nation in the world to see more electric vehicles sold than the combined total of those powered by petrol, diesel, and hybrid engines.

It found electric vehicles comprised 54.3 percent of total sales in Norway in 2020, which was up from 42.4 percent in 2019.

When electric vehicles are lumped in with hybrid vehicles, they comprised 83 percent of 2020’s total.

Electric-powered vehicles made up only 1 percent of the total a decade ago.

Diesel vehicles, which comprised 75.7 percent of the total in 2011, only made up 8.6 percent in 2020.

The turn-around followed Norway declaring its intention to become the first nation in the world to outlaw the sale of petrol and diesel cars, something that is slated for 2025.

The oil-producing nation has encouraged Norwegians to embrace electric vehicles through tax concessions, resulting in 77,000 being sold in the country last year.

Ironically, Norway is the largest producer of crude oil in Western Europe and revenue from that industry helped create a $1.3-trillion sovereign wealth fund that is financing tax breaks that make electric vehicles cheaper than their conventional counterparts. People who drive electric vehicles in Norway also get other breaks, such as the use of bus lanes and exemption from tolls and ferry charges.

Oyvind Thorsen, the Norwegian Road Federation’s chief executive, was quoted by the Guardian Newspaper as saying: “We’re definitely on track to reach the 2025 target.”

And Christina Bu, the head of the Norwegian EV Association lobbying group, told the paper: “Our preliminary forecast is for electric cars to surpass 65 percent of the market in 2021.”

The most popular electric vehicles in Norway during 2020 were the Audi e-tron and Tesla’s mid-sized Model 3. Volkswagen’s ID.3 finished third.

Broadcaster CNN said Norway is clearly far ahead of most other nations when it comes to acceptance of electric vehicles, but some others are gaining ground fast.

The Next Web, a website that focuses on new technology and start-up companies in Europe, said the Netherlands is also a strong supporter of electric vehicles.

Analysis by Schmidt Automotive Research found there was a record number of registrations of vehicles with batteries in Western Europe during December 2020, with 69 percent of the total number of vehicles bought in the Netherlands during that month being electric.

Automotive News predicted early last year that global sales of electric vehicles will outstrip those of cars with combustion engines by 2030.