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Can Norway’s Electric Car Success Be a Model for World?

Norway has emerged as the world’s largest electric cars market with over 11% of market share. The popularity of these environmentally friendly vehicles attracts international attention.
Can Norway’s Electric Car Success Be a Model for World?
Director of Norsk Elbilforening (Norwegian Electric Cars Association), Snorre Sletvold promotes their 100.000 EV in 2020 campaign. Photo : David L F Smith | Norsk Elbilforening

Thanks to supportive government policies, Norway has become the friendliest place in the world for electric cars. Actually, the country is the most successful market for electric car producers, with more electric cars per capita than anywhere else in the world. One of the biggest sensation of the yeaR, Tesla Model S even managed to be the best-selling car in September, while the Nissan Leaf climbed to top over all car models in October.

Many ask now what makes these cars so popular in the country and seek whether the same trend can be imported to other countries, considering environmental factors.

There are several incentives that promote electric cars choice in Norway. Availability of free public charging stations as well as toll-free roads, ferries and the ability of electric-car drivers to use bus lanes are important factors for Norwegian drivers to choose electric cars over conventional alternatives. Also conventional vehicles can be relatively expensive in Norway due to high tax regime, while plug-in cars are exempt from paying any tax until 2018.

While these new players of Norwegian roads are expensive relative to their size and luxury, but the free tax regime bring down their price to around the same as petrol and diesel vehicles, making them a viable alternative for many Norwegian households.

A Culture in Norway

 

Professor Marianne Ryghaug at Norwegian University of Science and Technology also points out there is a cultural dimension to the enthusiasm for electric cars in the country beyond their time and money saving features. According to Ryghaug, they are widely seen as comfortable and efficient due to their small size, and also provide the satisfaction of driving a less polluting car.

- Demonstrating environmental concerns by driving an electric car is important to some people. As more and more people choose them, it appears to be a more reasonable choice for others – particularly those with environmental leanings. This is at least true for countries like Norway where electricity is mainly produced from renewable sources, notes Ryghaug.

Yet it is Not Problem-Free

However, these encouraging promotions have potential to make the country’s road overcrowded. The country is already starting to have more electric cars than it can handle, according to Quartz (via Charged EVs).

Despite the growth of the charging-station network, Norwegians are having trouble finding places to plug in.

Estimated 15,000 electric cars are served by 5,000 public charging stations. Roughly 500 of those stations are in the capital city of Oslo, where the majority of the population is concentrated.

Also, using bus lane started to become a problem. During rush hour on December 3, electric cars made up 75 percent of the 829 vehicles in Oslo’s bus lanes, while actual buses made up just 7.5 percent.

Taking all thes factors into consideration,  Marianne Ryghaug says it’s not easy to replicate the situation in Norway in other countries.

- Other countries have much less tax on conventional cars, and might deem it too expensive to implement the other favours Norway bestows upon electric vehicle drivers. But there may be other lessons to learn from the Norwegian case, adds she.

FACTS ABOUT ELECTRIC CARS IN NORWAY

  • In 2013,  7,882 new passenger electric cars registered in Norway, which is twice as many as in 2012 when only 3,950 were registered. 
  • Last year, the market doubled and EVs now hold 5.5% market share on average in 2013.
  • According to the November and December results, with over 11% of market share, it is expected that 2014 has a big chance to double the share.
  • The fleet of plug-in electric vehicles in Norway is the largest per capita in the world, with Oslo recognized as the EV capital of the world.
  • As of 30 September 2013, a total of 14,902 all-electric vehicles have been registered in Norway, including 13,462 all-electric cars and 1,440 quadricycles.
  • Norway’s fleet of electric cars is one of the cleanest in the world because almost 100% of the electricity generated in the country comes from hydropower.
  • Norway was the first country in the world where electric cars have been listed among its top 10 best selling cars, and the first one to have electric cars topping the new car sales monthly ranking.
  • Among the existing government incentives, all-electric cars are exempt in Norway from all non-recurring vehicle fees, including purchase taxes, which are extremely high for ordinary cars, and 25% VAT on purchase, together making electric car purchase price competitive with conventional cars.
  • Electric vehicles are also exempt from the annual road tax, all public parking fees, and toll payments, as well as being able to use bus lanes.
  • These incentives are in effect until 2018 or until the 50,000 EV target is achieved.

This article was first published in The Nordic Page Magazine in January 2014.

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