On a per person basis, Norway is one of the world’s leading oil producers. One might assume that with all of that oil, the Norwegian automobile fleet would be among the world’s least fuel efficient, but the opposite is true. Norway is the world’s most developed national market for electric cars. Last year, battery-powered cars and plug-in hybrids together accounted for 29% of all new car sales. Though the country’s fleet is still only 5% electric, the government says it is realistic to expect an end to sales of new cars powered by fossil fuels within the decade. The Economist has more.
TO JUDGE by the gleaming rows of Teslas, Nissan Leafs and other electric cars parked in the snow in central Oslo, Norwegians might already have given up on the internal combustion engine. Before long they probably will. Battery-powered cars and plug-in hybrids together accounted for 29% of all new car sales last year. The 100,000th battery-powered unit sold in December.
Norway first introduced tax perks to boost the electric-car market in the 1990s. But sales only sparked in the past five years or so after slicker vehicles with better batteries appeared. Now the country’s 5m citizens constitute the most developed national market for electric cars anywhere. Christina Bu, who heads the country’s association for electric cars, expects 400,000 electric-only vehicles on the roads by 2020, and predicts 70% of new sales will be of zero-emission cars. As range increases and price falls, demand will rise faster.
Though less than 5% of the total fleet of cars in Norway are electric, the country’s transport minister calls it “realistic” to expect an end to sales of new cars powered by fossil fuels by 2025. Fiscal incentives, not an outright ban, will bring this about. Eye-popping purchase taxes typically double the cost of a high-emission car, but these and other levies are waived for clean ones. Drivers of zero-emission vehicles also skip costly road tolls, cross fjords by ferry for free, park without paying in cities and use bus lanes to whizz by other commuters.
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