Actor Will Farrell describes Norway’s EV leadership in one of the more amusing Super Bowl commercials, and how General Motors is looking to change all that here at home.
According to a Forbes.com article, in March 2019 almost 60 percent of new cars sold in Norway were electric vehicles (EV), in a country bent on stopping the sale of fossil-fueled vehicles by 2025. While unit sales of EVs are higher in China and the U.S., the percentage of EVs in Norway is higher than anywhere else in the world.
The reasons are numerous, not the least of which is Norway’s domestic hydroelectric production. With almost all their electricity coming from a renewable source, it’s easier and infinitely less expensive than it would be for a conversion to occur here. Add the financial incentives and charging infrastructure the Norwegian government has put in place, and it’s a near-perfect scenario you likely won’t see happening in the U.S. anytime soon.
Lowered road taxes, removal of toll road and ferry charges, and free parking were among the benefits of EV ownership in Norway as far back as 1990. A 25 percent sales tax on new EVs was lifted in 2001, and you could drive your EV in the bus lane starting in 2005. While the government started building charging stations, now private enterprise has taken over, and there’s even overseas interest in their construction and operation. All this for a country of 5 million Norwegians, or about the size of South Carolina, our 23rd most populated state.
Working with such a small base, it’s understandable why the government reached its goal of 50,000 zero-emission vehicles in operation three years earlier than they had anticipated. The used-car market in Norway remains gas-powered, so incentives for EV ownership are seen as nothing more than tax cuts for the wealthy. Many Norwegians argue it’s doing nothing to take gas-fueled vehicles off the road, but what would you expect in a country obsessed with electric-powered technology, in aircraft, boats, and other sectors?
You only need to look at Norway’s neighbor, Sweden, to see the folly in attempting to replicate what was done there. In 2010, Sweden had more new EV registrations than Norway. Today, Norway’s EV numbers are ten times that of Sweden. Why? The demand for electricity in cities increased faster than the availability of kW hours, especially in Stockholm, the capital. Just as they are recommending here, power companies and EV advocacy groups want to incentivize EV owners to charge only during off-peak hours so as not to overtax our power grid. Fascinating, no?
[Images: General Motors]