A country fuelled by hydropower has become the worlds electric vehicle leader
In 1995, the lead singer of the 1980 s party -Aha and the head of the Norwegian environmental group Bellona climbed improbably into a converted electric Fiat Panda they had imported from Switzerland and went off on a superhighway trip.
They drove around Oslo refusing to pay the city’s sky-high superhighway tolls, parking illegally wherever they could, and discounting every disadvantage notice they were given. Eventually, the authorities impounded their vehicle and auctioned it off to cover the fines.
But the stunt lured massive media attention, and the point was made. Soon after, electric vehicles were exempted from road tolls, one of a large raft of incentives that have, over the years, facilitated shape Norway the country with the world’s highest per capita electrical vehicle ownership.
Last month, in an economy hit by the coronavirus crisis, amply electric cars to be taken into consideration simply under 60% of Norway’s new automobile market, and plug-in hybrids only over 15%- signify three in four of all brand-new autoes sold were either utterly or partially electric.
It still has some way to go, but the country sounds on route to meet a government target- set in 2016, with full cross-party parliamentary support- of phasing out the sale of all brand-new fossil-fuel based gondolas and light-footed commercial vehicles by 2025.
” It’s actually pretty 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, majority decisions of Norwegians will say: my next automobile will be electrical .”
The story of how and why that has happened has a straightforward, if unexpected logic. First, despite has become a major oil and gas producer, virtually all of Norway’s domestic vigour comes from a single, and renewable, informant: hydropower.
That makes switching to EVs is a much greener option for Norway than for countries whose power is generated chiefly by coal bushes- and that if it wants to significantly reduce its radiation levels, it has little choice but to green its transport sector.
Driven by the environmental imperative, the government began offering incentives to buy and move electric cars as far back as 1990, first by introducing a temporary exemption from Norway’s exorbitant vehicle purchase tax, which became permanent six years later.
” This was an important step ,” Bu said.” Norway was a very poor country before we detected oil; automobiles were a luxury piece. They’ve always been levied very highly. Automobiles in Norway are a lot more expensive than abroad. Without the acquire excise, the cost of an electric car mostly descended to that of an ordinary gondola .”
Since then, electric car drivers have been given the right to park for free in some municipal parking lot, drive in bus corridors, take ferries without air tickets and, thanks to -Aha, drive toll-free. They are not required to pay VAT on their gondolas, or road tax, and company electric cars are taxed at a lower frequency than petrol or diesel vehicles.
Some measures have changed over the years: to be allowed to drive in a bus lane, for example, you now need to be carrying air passengers. A so-called 50% pattern adopted in 2017, giving local authorities to charge EV operators up to 50% of the parking fees, street tolls and ferrying proportions 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- gasoline, fees, parking, maintenance- of actually driving it, still includes up to a very powerful fiscal debate. Over its lifetime, you really save a lot of money with an electric car in Norway .”
That was certainly what persuaded Wenche Charlotte Egelund, 57, who purchased a VW Golf Electric with her partner two years ago when they moved out of central Oslo.” The incentives is of paramount importance ,” she said.” The charge and VAT exemptions, free municipal parking, free toll roads that mean we avoid the rush-hour traffic congestion .”