A country fuelled by hydropower has become the worlds electric vehicle leader
In 1995, the lead singer of the 1980 s band -Aha and the head of the Norwegian environmental group Bellona clambered improbably into a converted electric Fiat Panda they had imported from Switzerland and set off on a superhighway trip.
They drove around Oslo refusing to pay the city’s sky-high road fees, parking illegally wherever they could, and rejecting every sanction notice they were given. Eventually, the authorities concerned impounded their automobile and auctioned it off to cover the fines.
But the stunt lured massive media attention, and the point was attained. Soon after, electric vehicles were exempted from road tolls, one of a large raft of motivations that have, over the years, facilitated construct Norway the country with the world’s highest per capita electric vehicle ownership.
Last month, in an economy hit by the coronavirus crisis, fully electric cars to be taken into consideration merely under 60% of Norway’s brand-new car sell, and plug-in composites precisely over 15%- gist three in four members of all new autoes sold were either wholly or partially electric.
It still has some direction to go, but the country ogles on trend to meet a government target- set in 2016, with full cross-party parliamentary support- of phasing out the sale of all new fossil-fuel based gondolas and light-footed commercial vehicles by 2025.
” It’s actually quite amazing how quickly the mindset’s changed ,” said Christina Bu of the Norwegian EV Electric Vehicle Association.” Even in 2013 or 2014, parties were sceptical. Now, a majority of Norwegians will say: my next gondola is likely to be electric .”
The story of how and why that has happened has a straightforward, if unexpected logic. First, despite being a major oil and gas producer, almost all of Norway’s domestic vitality comes from a single, and renewable, source: hydropower.
That signifies switching to EVs is a much greener alternative for Norway than for countries whose power is generated primarily by coal plants- and that if it wants to significantly reduce its release levels, it has little choice but to green its transport sector.
Driven by the environmental imperative, the government began offering incentives to buy and lope electric cars as far back as 1990, first by introducing a temporary exception from Norway’s exorbitant vehicle purchase tax, which became permanent six years later.
” This represents an important step ,” Bu said.” Norway was a very poor country before we detected petroleum; cars were a indulgence piece. They’ve always been taxed very highly. Autoes in Norway are a lot more expensive than elsewhere. Without the acquire charge, the cost of an electric car basically fell to that of an everyday automobile .”
Since then, electric car motorists have been given the right to park for free in some municipal parking lot, drive in bus corridors, take shuttles without air tickets and, thanks to -Aha, drive toll-free. They are not required to pay VAT on their gondolas, or road levy, and corporation electric cars are taxed at a lower proportion than petrol or diesel vehicles.
Some measures have changed over the years: to be allowed to drive in a bus path, for example, you now need to be carrying a passenger. A so-called 50% rule was introduced in 2017, letting local authorities to charge EV moves up to 50% of the parking fees, street tolls and ferrying charges applicable to fossil-fuel vehicles.
But overall, said Bu, the” combining of a big one-off saving when you buy the car, plus the substantially lower costs- ga, fees, parking, maintenance- of actually driving it, still adds up to a very powerful financial contention. Over its lifetime, “youve been” save a great deal of money with an electric car in Norway .”
That was certainly what persuaded Wenche Charlotte Egelund, 57, who bought a VW Golf Electric with her partner two years ago when they moved out of central Oslo.” The incentives were crucial ,” she said.” The taxation and VAT exemptions, free municipal parking, free toll roads that mean we avoid paying rush-hour traffic jams .”