With a population of about 5,000,000, Norway is leading the world in the percentage of cars with plugs travelling on its roads. As of the end of April, the total stands at more than 100,000. Compare that to the number in far more populous countries — 450,000 in the US, 300,000 in China, and 150,000 in Japan.
Why are plug-in and elect cars so popular in Norway? Simple. Aggressive national policies that strongly favor electric and plug-in hybrid automobiles. Norway leads all other European nations in its commitment to lowering its carbon footprint and is backing that commitment with significant cash incentives. The national sales tax on automobiles is one of the highest in Europe, making the purchase of a new car in Norway an expensive proposition. But electric cars are exempt and plug-in hybrids pay much lower taxes.
Norway also favors drivers of battery and plug-in cars with reduced tolls on its many bridges, tunnels, and ferries. In cities, they are given preferential access to parking and allowed to use HOV lanes at all times. It says it wants all new cars to be zero emissions vehicles by 2025. It is spending more than a $1 billion to build a network of bicycle commuting lanes so people can bike to work rather than drive. It is also promoting plug-in hybrid electric ships to replace diesel powered vessels for coastal shipping routes. Norway gets more than 90% of its electricity from its abundant hydroelectric facilities, making its electrical grid one of the greenest of any nation.
Those national policies are working. In March, more than 60% of new cars sold in Norway were hybrids, plug-in hybrids, or battery electric cars, according to Dinside, a Norwegian news site. Norwegians much prefer pure electric cars to plug-in hybrids. Of the 100,600 total sold through April, about 81,500 of them were all-electric vehicles.
Norway is one of the best customers for Tesla automobiles in all of Europe. The Tesla Model S is a popular choice for taxis in the nation’s cities. Much of that has to do with them being price competitive with conventional cars due to their exemption from the national sales tax, but lower operating and maintenance expenses are also a factor.
Even the Norwegian national mail service is onboad with the electric car movement. Last year, it purchased 240 electric Renault Kango0 small trucks to use for postal deliveries. Posten Norway now has more than 900 electrified vehicles in its fleet. That speaks volumes about the country’s commitment to vehicles that are not powered by fossil fuels.
Source and photo credit: CleanTechnica