OSLO (Reuters) -- Tesla Motor's all-electric Model S became the top-selling car in Norway last month, with drivers also paying a premium to buy the sports car second-hand to avoid having to wait five months for a new one, dealers said.
The high performance Tesla S had a market share of 5.1 percent in Norway last month, accounting for 616 of the 12,168 new cars sold and pushing the conventionally-powered Volkswagen Golf into second place with a 4.6 percent share, according to official figures.
"There has been an enormous demand for this car and it doesn't seem to stop. We have a lot of customers on the waiting list right now," said Joar Tenfjord, the head of Tesla's dealership in Bergen, Norway's second largest city.
Electric cars have been especially popular in Norway because of generous subsidies, free parking, government-provided re-charging stations, the right to use express lanes on highways and exemptions from tolls.
"You get great value for your money with the Model S in Norway," Tenfjord said. "It is a spacious car and it is also environmentally friendly."
A new Tesla Model S costs $110,000-$117,000 in Norway's notoriously expensive car market, well above the $70,000 it costs in the United States, but existing owners willing to part with their car could get $130,000 for them, Tenfjord said.
The Tesla S went on sale in Europe in August. The model has a top speed of 200 kph (125 mph) and acceleration of 0-100 kph (0-62 mph) in 5.4 seconds. Its 483 km (300 miles) range outstrips other all-electric cars.
Tesla has already sold 14,300 units of the Model S in the United States 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. Currently only 12 of the new Teslas are available on Finn.no, Norway's top classified Web site with asking prices of up to $130,000.
"I have noticed that some people make a very nice profit on these cars," Tenfjord said. "The demand is extreme."
One of those secondhand buyers, 27-year-old financial consultant Anders Langset, said a regular car with similar performance and engine size could have cost him up to 2 million crowns ($330,000) because of the punitive taxes Norway's government levies on cars with big engines.
"I paid more for a second-hand car than I would have paid if I bought it when it was new, but the demand is so high that I am sure I would get my money back and then some if I sold it again today," Langset said.
A BMW 5 series sells in the $100,000-$115,000 range in Norway, below the Model S, but its internal combustion engine is less powerful.
Cars with conventional engines of similar power to the Tesla model would typically retail for $200,000 and above as taxes are levied on engine size. Some carmakers sell their vehicles with smaller engines in Norway than the rest of Europe to keep them affordable.
Meanwhile no immediate effect has been seen on Norwegian demand for the Model S after a video emerged last week showing a Model S on fire after an accident near Seattle, which slightly dented this year's meteoric rise in Tesla's share price.
"We have had some questions from customers but it appears to have 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 shaped metal object" which punched a hole through the quarter-inch armor plate protecting the lithium-ion battery pack, and that had it been a gasoline-powered car "the result could have been far worse."