By Hugh Finlay
In Norway sales of electric and hybrid cars, have now overtaken sales of cars using fossil fuels. This now makes Norway the global leader in the movement to cut down vehicle emissions.
Although Norway is a major oil producer, it is nevertheless a champion of electric, cleaner-for-the-environment vehicles. Norway gives generous incentives to make electric vehicles cheaper to purchase, and additional benefits are provided once these electric vehicles are put onto the roads.
Other countries have also increased their promotion of electric and hybrid cars. China is trying to improve its air quality and break into the new vehicle technology. The government there wants 20% of cars sold in China to run on non-fossil fuel by 2025. By 2040, Britain and France will stop using gasoline, and diesel-powered cars.
But Norway is well ahead of the other countries of the world, with 52% of the cars sold in the country in 2017 running on non-fossil fuels, according the data from Norway’s Road Traffic Advisory Board (OFV). The market for diesel cars fell sharply. They were thought to be more friendly to the environment, but are now seen as polluting, because of their noxious fumes.
Said Oyvind Solberg Thorsen, the OFV director “This trend will only increase. This is good for both road safety and the environment.”
The Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association spokesperson, Christina Bu said that sales of electric cars could have been even higher, if some customers had not been waiting for new models, such as Tesla’s Model 3, to come out.
Electric vehicles comprise a small portion of the world market at the moment. But carmakers such as Tesla, which produces only electric vehicles, and big companies like Volkswagen, have invested large amounts of money in the growing electric car market, and say that will not be long before electric vehicles, are as ubiquitous and cheap as fossil fuel cars. More charging stations and other electric vehicle technology are being constructed.
Ford Motor and General Motors say that they will put more attention on electric vehicles, and other carmakers such as Volvo are getting rid of fossil fuel cars completely. James Dyson is an example of one of the businessmen who have plans for producing their own electric cars.
As the electric car market grows, the makers of electric vehicles are encountering challenges. Tesla is taking longer than expected in getting its new Model 3 out, their first car aimed at the mass-market. There has been a recent drop in car sales in the United States. This might slow down the expansion of the market for electric vehicles.
Nevertheless, Norway is planning to remove all fossil fuel cars by 2025.
Norway’s enthusiasm for electric cars has been aided by big government subsidies and tax concessions that make electric vehicles easy for Norwegians to adopt. The government is expanding the national network of electric vehicle charging stations. Also electric car drivers are offered other benefits such as exemptions from road tolls, cheaper parking, and use of bus lanes in rush hours.
So in Norway, electric cars, easily known by license plates that have the letters EK or EL, are numerous. Teslas are frequently to be seen in affluent parts of the capital, Oslo. Charging stations are easy to find in most cities.
“I had been wanting an electric car for a long time for environmental reasons, but they were expensive,” said Zanete Anderson Lilley, an adviser in the Norway branch of the World Wildlife Fund, an environmental organization. She eventually got a Kia Soul, a small 5 door electric car, which cost 200,000 kroner, or about $24,600, in 2017.
She added “If it wasn’t for the subsidies, I guess most people would still choose fuel.”
Last year, Norway’s conservative government proposed paring back the various forms of tax relief for electric cars. But the plans attracted criticism and have not moved forward.
Ms. Bu, of the Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association, said such plans would create “great uncertainty at a time when increasing numbers of Norwegians are convinced that electric cars are something for them.”